A Note from Fatty: If you want to jump straight to the 100MoN registration page, just click here.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a week.
Last Monday morning, I was almost giddy to reveal what I was certain would be the fastest-selling, most swag-laden 100 Miles of Nowhere ever.
By Monday afternoon, I was perplexed. Confused even. Not sure what I had done wrong. Registrations were down. Way down. Like, not even close to sold out.
By Tuesday morning, registrations were still not sold out. Nor by Tuesday, for that matter.
I don’t want to be too dramatic, but I also don’t want to be dishonest, so believe me when I say that “despair” is what I was feeling by Wednesday morning when we still weren’t close to selling out.
Have I done a bad job explaining this fundraiser? Have I worn out my welcome? What have I done wrong?
Then I tried to get over myself, stop taking it so personally, and I started thinking. Which resulted in my theories and questions I posted on Thursday.
Your responses have been incredible: instructive, uplifting, and constructive. I’ve bookmarked the page and will come back to it not just for next year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere, but for every fundraising effort I ever do.
Thank you for that.
Knowing what I’ve learned in the past few days, I realize now I probably should have led with what I’m going to be talking about today: something I had thought about as being a cool surprise to spring on 100MoN racers after registration was over.
Which is this.
Riding 100 Miles of Nowhere…in Michigan, With Camp Kesem Leaders
The good folks at Camp Kesem have invited the twins and me over to their leadership summit, which just happens to be November 7, the same day as the 100 Miles of Nowhere.
Almost as if we had planned it that way.
Now, normally, when you hear the term “Leadership Summit,” you think long speeches and conference rooms.
But this is Camp Kesem. And so the Leadership Summit is going to be happening at Camp Copneconic, and it’s going to be chock full of college kids — the same amazing kids who spend their summers being Camp Kesem counsellors.
We’re going for three reasons. First (but not foremost), I’ll be presenting to Camp Kesem leadership and counsellors on what Team Fatty is and how the way we raise money for great causes is a reflection of who we are. The fact is, Camp Kesem and the 100 Miles of Nowhere is a match made in heaven: great cause, silly execution.
Originally, I planned to mostly be presenting on how to have fun when fundraising. This last week, however, has been eye-opening and I’ll be adding a lot of key learnings from it, too.
Second, I plan to do my 100 Miles of Nowhere on rollers or a trainer or a bike or whatever I can figure out (under a covered porch if the weather’s bad, on dirt roads if the weather’s good) the day before the big summit, as the counsellors arrive. It’ll gie me a great chance to talk with people individually about what the 100 Miles of Nowhere is, who Team Fatty is, and why I’m proud to raise money for Camp Kesem.
And if they would like to put in a few miles themselves, that’s even more awesome.
Will I be taking video? You bet I will.
Third and most important: The twins will be on a Q&A panel answering questions about what kids love about Camp Kesem and what it means to them. This is in fact the thing I care most about.
Final Big Ask
Tuesday September 29 is the final day of the 100 Miles of Nowhere registration. I have to close it then in order to get all the shirt, socks, and jersey orders nailed down.
I’m excited to tell these people about your generosity and the ridiculous things you do for good causes.
I’d love to be able to say, while I’m there, that for the fourth year in a row since I’ve done this race as a fundraiser for Camp Kesem, that it’s sold out.
If you haven’t registered and you can, please do.
PS: If you live in Michigan and can help me get set up with a bike or two or three (and some rollers or a trainer) — and better yet, if you can join me November 6 and do your 100 Miles of Nowhere right in front of the Camp Kesem leaders — please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure your subject says, “100 Miles of Nowhere in Michigan” so I don’t miss it.
This is a strange and somewhat uncomfortable post for me to write, but I’m going to anyway. I hope you’ll stick with it.
For the first year since I’ve started doing the 100 Miles of Nowhere, it hasn’t sold out. Isn’t really even close, to be honest. Which leaves me with one big question: Why?
I have some theories, which I’m going to get into. And — honesty above all here — I hope that if you haven’t yet, these theories (and what I’m going to do about them) will be enough to get you to sign up.
Theory 1: I Emphasized the Wrong Things
I am justifiably excited about and proud of all the cool stuff you get when you join the 100 Miles of Nowhere. A cool event t-shirt, event socks, an event KEG (gizmo to hold your stuff in a bike cage), an event musette bag, a jersey at a crazy-good price, a free trial membership to TrainerRoad, a screener video of Inspired to Ride, a SufferFest video, GU product, CarboRocket product, and of course a race plate.
My problem is, I treated that as the reason you might want to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere, and it isn’t. Not really.
The reason you do the 100 Miles of Nowhere is because it’s a fun and strange way to do something good for Camp Kesem, an organization that does a remarkable amount of good for kids who’ve been affected by a parent’s cancer.
This organization matters to me because it’s helped my family; it’s made a difference in my life and in the lives of my twins. And it’s made an enormous difference to thousands of other kids who’ve had to worry about cancer instead of just being a kid.
Camp Kesem makes a practical difference to kids who’ve had to worry too much. And it makes a practical difference to parents, who worry about the fact that their kids aren’t getting to have a fun childhood.
I’m fundraising for Camp Kesem because I believe in and have seen the good they effect in both parents and children’s lives.
That’s what I should have emphasized in my pitch.
Theory 2: I Ask a Lot of My Readers
It hasn’t been very long since I wrapped up the Grand Slam for Kenya, and now I’m asking for money again?
I never stop asking, do I?
Well, for what it’s worth, I never ask for donations without also donating to the same cause. That said, I know I ask a lot. Maybe I ask for too much.
But in this case, I think I’m asking for the right thing, and for the right cause.
Theory 3: I Didn’t Give You Much Heads-Up
I don’t have a “why what I did is ok” excuse for this one. I think I posted something about having the 100 Miles of Nowhere in November a couple months ago, but I haven’t given you much heads-up since then.
So I worry that your calendars have filled up and now it’s too late — that’s why you haven’t signed up.
That’s on me. I’m an idiot.
But — but! — the good thing about the 100 Miles of Nowhere is that you can sign up now…and then do it whenever. You don’t have to do it November 7. You can do it over Christmas break. Or when the Spring thaw comes.
After all, it’s not just a race without a place…it’s a race without a time or day.
Theory 4: Race Guest-Reporting Needs to Be More Consistent
One of the things I love about the 100 Miles of Nowhere is the incredible race reports I get from racers. Sadly, I get so many at once I panic at the editing job ahead of me. As a result, I tend to release a lot of the 100MoN reports in a flood, then those that come in after my big editing push…never see the light of day.
I’m going to be doing something a little different this year to enable this “wherever, whenever” aspect of the event.
On Fridays, for the whole year, I’m going to post 100 Miles of Nowhere guest race reports. Yep, instead of just releasing them all in a big clump — so that many of them never get noticed because there’s a sudden deluge and nobody has time to read that many all at once — I’m going to use what has generally been an unblogged day for me and post your writeups.
Camp Kesem and what it does matters to me. This fundraising event matters to me.
I’m holding registration open ’til this Tuesday, or ’til we hit 500. I hope that between now and then, you’ll sign up.
A Note from Fatty: There are still quite a few registration slots for the 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere available. Please sign up for the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done, while simultaneously raising a ton of money for Camp Kesem. Click here for details, and click here to sign up.
The best way to plan is to have a plan and then plan for that plan to unravel. Then have a plan for what you’re going to do when things go pear-shaped.
You should expect, however, that even your contingency plan is likely to discombobulate.
Hence, there’s rarely any point in having any plan at all, apart from planning to adapt and improvise.
This, as you’ll find out shortly, is pretty much my top takeaway from crewing for Lisa and Lindsey at the 2015 LoToJa race.
A Generously-Sized Gap
As I may have mentioned at some point early in this story, When I left you in part 4 of this story, The Hammer had taken off with the lead women’s group, followed fifteen minutes later by an exhausted-sounding Lindsey.
If you were to go back further in this story, you’d see that at the previous checkpoint, Lindsey had been ahead of Lisa.
As far as I knew, the only way they had not ridden in this race was together, which was kind of the whole point of why they signed up.
Nothing we could do about that now. Blake and I just needed to hotfoot it (at a safe and legal speed, thankyouverymuch) over to our final location to crew for Lisa and Lindsey: the Alpine aid station.
Which we did.
Knowing that we’d need to hurry once we got there, Blake and I talked about what we’d grab and bring with us. Blake filled the bottles along the way.
[Note from Fatty: There are several text messages in this section. Please note that while they were to me and I was driving, it was Blake who read the messages aloud and did the replying for me. I don’t text and drive, ever. And neither should you.]
And then, as we neared the Alpine checkpoint, I got this text message from Lindsey:
The temptation was to flip a U and go help…but if we’d done that, we’d have left Lisa — who’d be arriving at the aid station within a few minutes — high and dry.
So I replied:
She didn’t call or reply to this text immediately, which I saw as a positive sign; she was likely fixing her tire and not able to see that we had replied. So we sent the following message:
Then we parked, jumped out of the truck, grabbed everything we needed, and ran to the checkpoint.
We had made it.
Cory — Ben’s dad — came through (Ben had come through before Blake and I got there) at 3:01pm. At which point he apologized for his behavior when he was stung by a hornet at the last aid station, causing him to shout several words I would ground my twins for using.
“That’s a nice apology, dude,” I said, coolly. “But that outburst is still going in the blog.”
Lisa came through at 3:03, her position in the lead group of seven women now a solid fact. They were going to stick together right to the end.
Lisa was way happier and energized than someone who was 3/4 of the way through a 200+ mile bike ride had any right to be.
“We’re just having so much fun,” The Hammer said.
“Lindsey’s not having any fun at all,” I replied. “She just had a flat.”
Another racer in Lisa’s group heard me saying this and said, “Actually, Lindsey has bailed out.”
“What?” I replied. “That doesn’t sound like Lindsey.”
“That isn’t like Lindsey,” Ben’s mom Lynne affirmed.
“The guy on the motorcycle was really clear about it,” the rider said.
Then, at that moment, almost as if to affirm that in fact this was not like her, this text from Lindsey arrived:
I was glad Lindsey had gotten her bike to the point that she could limp it to the aid station. But I was bummed to hear she’d need to do more work. But I was mostly just glad that she wasn’t out of the race.
A quick reloading of GU and swap-out of water AND AN OPEN COLD COKE RIGHT NOW, and Lisa was on her way — her day going almost as well as Lindsey’s wasn’t.
And now Blake and I had a problem: in addition to the fifteen-minute gap that already existed between Lisa and Lindsey, there would now be the additional gap caused by Lindsey doing a field repair, and then evidently needing to do another tube replacement when she got in.
By the time Lindsey got going, she’d be at least half an hour behind Lisa.
So: what do we do? Let Lisa finish the race without anyone to cheer for her? Or bail on Lindsey?
Neither was an acceptable solution, and luckily we had a third choice: have one of us go on with Lynne, while the other took care of Lindsey.
I thought about it for a second: which of us would Lisa rather have at the finish line?
Well, me of course. That’s obvious. OK, maybe it’s not that obvious.
And Lisa does in fact see me and ride with me pretty much every day. And I see her at lots and lots of finish lines. While Blake doesn’t.
And also, Blake is a pale, pale man who doesn’t get outside much; he was starting to burn pretty thoroughly.
So I sent Blake ahead with Lynne and family, and went back to waiting.
And it’s a lucky thing we went with that decision, or things could’ve gotten a lot worse.
I stood and watched the road, expecting every rider to be Lindsey.
None of the riders, however, were Lindsey.
I let ten minutes go by. And another ten. I checked my phone constantly, thinking maybe I’d call or text her to see if everything was all right. Glad she had brought her phone with her on the race — something I have never once done.
And then: a call.
“I’ve had another flat,” Lindsey said. “I don’t have anything to repair another one.”
I wasn’t surprised. Flats come in twos and threes. I don’t know why, but they do. You know it’s true.
“Hang on, I’ll be right there, I said, even as I grabbed and packed up all my stuff and began running the approximately half mile back to the truck.
I threw everything into the truck bed and took off — at a safe and legal speed — down the road, my eyes peeled for Lindsey.
And in a few miles, I found her at the side of the road. Already putting a tube in, with a car pulled over and helping her.
As it turns out, it was the mom of one of Lindsey’s old boyfriends. I’m sure that was a fun reunion, and I’m glad I had no part in it.
I finished changing the tire, got Lindsey another tube and a couple CO2 cartridges (because flats come in twos and threes), set her up with food and water, and asked how it’s going.
“Not great,” she replied. Which was shorthand for “I’ve been throwing up a lot.”
I mentally blame the poptarts, but say nothing. I am not a fool (though I can play that role).
Lindsey continues on, on her own. Not having a good day, not in contention, but not giving up.
I admire her. And soon — very soon — I will think about her as I am not having a good day, am not in contention, and am contemplating giving up.
I’m now free to fly to the finish line, and fly I do. At a safe and legal speed, mind you.
But I don’t fly fast enough.
I park and call Blake, who tells me, “Yeah, [Lisa] just finished.” I find them and get a picture:
Lisa hasn’t just finished, she’s finished third in the women’s Cat 4 division, with a 10:09:28 (all seven of the women in The Hammer’s group would wind up getting a podium spot in their various categories.)
Yeah, 202+ miles, in 10:09. You wonder why I call her “The Hammer” on this blog?
We load Lisa up. She’s tired, but happier than I’ve ever seen her at a finish line. Happier than anyone who’s just maintained a 20.1mph average for more than ten hours has any right to be.
We head to our hotel. We’ll meet up with the rest of the gang after we wash up and eat; that’s our plan. But a few miles after we head out, we see Lindsey; she’s found a group to ride with, she’ll be in soon. And she is:
She’s just finished Lotoja — finished it strong — after having a rotten day on the bike.
I’d say that’s worth a victory salute.
A TL;DR Note from Fatty: If you already know what the 100 Miles of Nowhere is and want to get on with the registering before it fills up, just click here to go register.
Here is a sad fact: I have never played “Jungle Ball.” Ever. In fact, I have very little idea of what it is (I know it is played in a pool and that there is a ball involved, but little else). I don’t know what the rules are (very few, I am told).
But my twins know, thanks to Camp Kesem. And in fact, one of them tells me playing Jungle Ball is one of the things she likes best about Camp Kesem. The other twin tells me that making so many friends — fellow campers and counsellors — is what she likes about it.
Both of my twins have been to Camp Kesem for each of the past four years, and both want to be counsellors at Camp Kesem someday.
Camp Kesem has helped defined who my girls are, has made a huge difference in their lives.
And that’s why, for the fourth year running, The 100 Miles of Nowhere (#100MoN) will be to benefit Camp Kesem, a nationwide community driven by passionate college student leaders, supporting children through and beyond their parent’s cancer.
That said — and very much in keeping with Camp Kesem philosophy — the 2015 100MoN will be the most ridiculous, awesome fundraiser ever, both in terms of swag and participation.
Let me tell you what I mean.
What Is The 100 Miles of Nowhere?
The 100 Miles of Nowhere is a race without a place. It’s an event in which hundreds of people participate . . . all by ourselves. (Or with a friend. Or with 20 friends.)
It’s a very strange thing where you pay $99.95 (shipping is free) for some awesome swag and the privilege of riding your rollers, trainer, or a very small course (like around the block or up and down a hill) for 100 miles.
And then the profits from your entry go to Camp Kesem — camps all across the U.S., dedicated to giving kids affected by a parent’s cancer a week of carefree fun, at no cost to them.
I did the first 100 Miles of Nowhere by myself, back before I knew it would be annual at all. The next year — and every year after that — a bunch of us have done it. In fact, now every year the 500 available spots sell out in no time.
Then, after the event, I ask you to send me your stories — like your awesome videos, or descriptions of your completely insane courses — and I post new ones every day (this year, I plan to posted a new story from a reader every couple of hours. I plan to carry on that tradition this year, as well.
Please, let me know what your 100 Miles of Nowhere idea is in the comments. I don’t care whether it’s a simple, straightforward, brutal session on your trainer, or 3000 laps in your circular driveway (yes, really).
Your crazy needs to be shared.
What 100MoN Gear Do Race Participants Get?
I’m pretty sure that each year I ask my readers if you’d be OK with a simplification of the 100 Miles of Nowhere, including much less swag.
Each year, you overwhelmingly say, “Sure, that would be fine. This isn’t about the swag.”
And then I have such a rush of gratitude toward your generosity that I say to myself, “My readers are so generous, how could I not dig up a whole bunch of amazing swag for them?” So here’s what you’re get with your $99.95 registration.
First, the must-have item: the event t-shirt:
This will be available in Small – XXXL for men’s sizing, and XS – XL for women’s sizing. One of these shirts is gonna fit you, and they look great. The back looks like this, although we still need to lay out the sponsor logos:
’Til now, the t-shirt or the jersey (keep on reading for info about the jersey, ok?) has been the only wearable item you get for the event. And as far as I know, there’s no other event that gives you multiple wearables.
This year, everyone who registers for the 100 Miles of Nowhere will also get these awesomely loud 100MoN socks:
These go with everything, but especially with the 100MoN jersey (yeah, keep reading for info on that). These socks are the same make and fit as the 5” Fat Cyclist socks I’ve been selling with DNA, and I love them. These are seriously nice socks. When you register, be sure to specify your size (S/M, or L/XL). For what it’s worth, I wear a size 10 shoe an wear the S/M. If my feet were any larger, I’d go with the L/XL.
Is that it for the 100MoN gear you’re gonna get? Nope, not even close.
A lot of events give you a cheapo bottle, which I find pretty annoying at a couple of levels, mainly because cheapo bottles suck and have to be repurposed.
I am not going to give you a cheapo water bottle. No. I am going to give you something you’ll actually use: a K.E.G.
Front and back view shown — you get one of these, not two.
These ingenious things hold everything you need to fix a flat or a chain, neat as can be, in a watertight container. Even the lid is ingenious, securing a patch kit and a masterlink. Then pop it into a bottle cage for easy retrieval whenever you need it, and move it between bikes as easy as can be. Plus, you’ll have the extra benefit of not having a dorky-looking saddle bag hanging between your legs.
Am I done? No, still not done. You also get a 100MoN musette bag, great for slinging over your shoulder the next time you need a handup at a race.
Once again, front and back shown. You get one of these, not two. You don’t need two.
Or the next time you want to carry a musette. Or just to hold other stuff. It’s like a purse, but lighter and more cycle-y.
But what if you want a jersey? Well, how about this:
Now, you do not get this jersey with your 100 Miles of Nowhere registration. This is what we call an “upsell.” However, this jersey — the same fit and fabric as I use in the Relaxed-Fit Fat Cyclist jersey — is only $69.95 (that’s $15 less than I sell the regular jersey). You can buy this as an add-on when you register, or you can buy it separately (it comes in both men’s and women’s sizing) for family members who are going to be riding with or supporting you.
Yeah, I know. Pretty great. But wait, there’s more!
What ELSE Do 100MoN Racers Get?
The official 100MoN gear is only part of the swagfest 100MoN riders can expect to receive. You’ll also get all of this:
1 Month of TrainerRoad: I love TrainerRoad. I truly believe that a big part of the reason I raced my fastest LT100 at the age of 49 was thanks to this amazing suite of training workouts. I’m going to be using TrainerRoad again — even moreso than last year, in fact. And now you can try it out for a month, too, for free.
Inspired to Ride: I think Ride the Divide is one of the best cycling movies that’s ever been made. And now Mike Dion — creator of Ride the Divide — has produced a new movie, Inspired to Ride, about a small group of unsupported cyclists in their quest to get from the West Coast to the East, as fast as possible. Watch the teaser here, and also be assured — because I’ve seen it — that this is an incredible, inspiring, and fun film. 100MoN racers will be given a code to stream this video…maybe something fun to watch as you ride your rollers for six hours?
Sufferfest video, “Extra Shot:” I love and use Sufferfest videos in my training. Not only are they brutally hard, but they’re clever and entertaining, plus they feature great cycling footage (Plus, Sufferfest plays well with TrainerRoad!). “Extra Shot” is a great video to get a short, intense workout in…whether you’re using it on its own when you don’t have time for a long ride, or as a bonus workout, for a day when you feel like you deserve to be punished.
2 GU Energy Gels and and 1 Single-Serve GU Hydration Drink Mix: I don’t even know what I could say about GU that I haven’t said before. Their energy gels just work. As in, you take one, and you find you have the energy to keep going for another half hour. I train with GU anytime I’m out on my bike for more than ninety minutes, and I never ever race without it.
2-Serving Packet of CarboRocket RocketLytes and CarboRocket Rehab Single-Serve Stick Pack (Chocolate/Coconut flavor): If you ride long enough, you’re going to need electrolytes to keep from cramping. You’ll definitely want to use these while you ride your 100MoN. And after the 100MoN, you should use the chocolate/coconut recovery drink. For one thing, it’ll make you feel better. For another thing, it’s delicious.
Race Plate, provided by BikeMonkey: Hey, it’ not a race if you don’t have a race plate, is it? No sir/ma’am, it is not. And you are going to get yourself a race plate you will be proud to put on your bike as you race around your block / in your basement / up and down the steepest hill you can find for 100 miles. And then you’re going to want to frame that race plate. Luckily, it’s a nice-enough-looking race plate that it’ll look good when it’s framed.
When Do Racers Get Their Stuff?
You get it during the first week of November. Unless you’re not inside the United States, in which case it’s going to take a few weeks longer to get to you, obviously (like, you’ll get it in late November).
When Is the 100 Miles of Nowhere?
This year, the “official” date of the race is Saturday, November 7. This brings the 100 Miles of Nowhere back to its roots, making it an event that’s great to do indoors. That said, if November 7 is still good outside weather for you, by all means take it outside and make it a fun, strange thing to do with friends, rather than a solitary form of torture you inflict upon yourself.
And, thanks to the flexibility of the event — i.e., it’s just you, really — if November 7 doesn’t work for you, you can do it another day.
Like in October, if you feel like it. Or December. Or later this afternoon if you just don’t have anything else to do. It’s your call, really. (But your 100 Miles of Nowhere race plate and swag will arrive around Halloween, regardless of when you do it).
How Long Is the 100 Miles of Nowhere?
The “100 Miles” part of 100 Miles of Nowhere is more a guideline than a rule. For example, if you would rather ride 50 miles, that’s fine with me. So is 25. One person wrote me asking if she could walk 100K — and of course the answer was, “You bet, and please take pictures and send me a writeup of your story.”
Or if you’re a runner and you want to do a marathon on the treadmill, that would be awesome. If you’re a swimmer, swim five miles. I’m not picky.
And of course, the very best thing about the 100 Miles of Nowhere is that you are going to win your division. You just need to make sure your division is specific enough that there’s no chance anyone else is in it.
And once you’ve won your division, send me the story of what your 100 Miles of Nowhere was like. I pick my favorite write-ups and publish them here in the blog. In fact, for a week or so after the event, I generally put up several stories per day.
Weirdly, the 100 Miles of Nowhere has become an odd community event, even though we all do it alone.
How Many People Race the 100 Miles of Nowhere?
500 people can register and race. That’s it. I need to limit the registration to 500 so my sponsors aren’t bled dry by their generosity.
This is important because if you don’t register pronto, you aren’t going to get in. This will sell out, generally within 20 – 24 hours.
In other words, you shouldn’t sit on the fence. And considering the cause and the swag, why would you?
Go register now.
Questions? Comments? Ideas?
I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas for what you’re going to do for your 100 Miles of Nowhere; please leave a comment saying what you’re thinking you’re going to do.
And if you have questions, please leave those in the comments. I’ll be paying close attention to comments and answering as frequently as my day job allows.
Good luck in registering, and have a great race!
A Note from Fatty About the 100 Miles of Nowhere: I’ll be launching registration for the 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere this Monday, September 21. Be sure to check this blog on Monday at 10:00am MDT, which is when I’ll be revealing details and opening registration.
By way of hint, this will be a fundraiser for Camp Kesem, with registration strictly limited to 500. I think you’ll love the awesome level of swag I’ll be revealing. I think you’ll also love that this year everyone will get the 100 Miles of Nowhere t-shirt (and a lot more), with the option to also get the 2015 100 Miles of Nowhere jersey (which I’m going to be selling at an extremely nice price):
I’m really excited for this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere; it’s going to be a really special one. Check back Monday for details on why.
A Note From Fatty About the Levi’s GranFondo Valley Fire Relief Effort: I’m a big fan of Levi’s GranFondo. I’m also a big fan of finding ways to make the world a better place. So it stands to reason that I’m a big fan of the way Levi’s GranFondo has pivoted its fundraising toward disaster relief efforts for victims of the Valley Fire. They’re directing 80% of their donations toward housing, food, clothing, and other immediate needs of the people and animals whose homes were taken from them in a literal flash.
Whether you’re going to Levi’s or not, why not make a donation? I’m going to.
Crew Report: Lotoja 2015: Standing on Tiptoe
I don’t know if I’ve ever spent so much time standing on my toes.
Blake and I had made it to the second pit stop, lugging our balloons, ice chest, and box of food from our cleverly-distant parking space a few blocks away from where everyone else had parked, hence putting us in a good spot for a quick getaway once Lindsey and Lisa came through.
We stared, anxiously, down the road, looking for the right combination of jerseys and helmets that would tell us our riders were here.
The thing is, though, everyone else in the area was doing the same thing, looking down the road, craning their necks, some crowding into the street.
Blake and I stood on our toes, watching down the road. It had been two hours since we had seen our racers last, and by Lisa’s prediction we still had twenty minutes ’til we’d see them again. They’d be 126 miles into the race. More than halfway, but with lots of riding (about 74 more miles) left to go.
But they had come through the first pit stop ten minutes earlier than projected. They were obviously doing this race fast.
“Do you think Lindsey will still be ahead of Lisa?” Blake asked.
“It could go either way,” I said, and I meant it. Lindsey had been faster at the Cedar City Fire Road 100K, Lisa and Lindsey had essentially finished together at the Crusher in the Tushar, and Lisa had finished ahead of Lindsey in Leadville.
So it could go either way, though I knew that The Hammer is a little bit unique in that she seems to get stronger and faster the longer a race is — a fact that helps make sense of Lindsey and The Hammer’s relative positions in the races they’ve done this year.
Some racers stopped their bikes perpindicular to traffic, clogging the road. Some crews would cluster around their rider, making it impossible for other crews to work. I tried not to get snotty about this. We were all just families helping family. Everyone doing the best they could.
When it was my turn, I’m sure I’d be completely unaware of whether I was blocking the road or obstructing another crew.
Chill, Fatty. Chill.
First Racer, Second Racer
Blake and I kept standing on our toes, staring down the road.
And then, there was a racer in a Fat Cyclist kit.
But even from far away, it was obvious this was a tall, thin man. Ben. He pulled up and Lynne and her family took care of him. Ben ate a pop-tart while his family swapped out his bottles.
“A pop-tart, Ben?” I chided. Then I wondered to myself, “When did I become so hoity-toity about race food?”
Then Ben was gone.
Next, Ben’s dad, Cory, came through — happy, relaxed, having fun.
Until, all of a sudden, he was howling in pain, tearing and swating at his jersey.
Evidently, a hornet had gotten in Cory’s jersey and was upset about not being able to find its way out.
Cory knows some interesting word combinations, which he demonstrated for us. (At the next pit stop, he would apologize for his language, which to me seems a lot more peculiar than using such language when being stung by a hornet.)
With Ben and Cory gone, we knew we’d be seeing Lindsey and The Hammer soon. We stayed on our toes, staring down the road. Looking for a Fat Cyclist jersey and a black helmet — Lindsey.
And at 1:35, the first of the two women pulled up.
But she had a black-and-red helmet, not a black one. it wasn’t Lindsey.
Somewhere between the Montpelier and Afton pit stops, The Hammer had caught up to Lindsey. So why weren’t they riding together now? I had no idea, and this wasn’t the time to ask. I’d hear the racer side of the story later.
Right now, Blake and I had a job to do.
The Hammer told us she was having a great race. She was riding strong, was with a good-sized group of women that were working well together, one of whom was also being crewed for in the picture below:
And also, she wanted Coke. Not water, Coke. When would we ever learn?
The day had gotten hot, so I took the backbottle I’d filled with cold water and put in my back pocket (just in case The Hammer had wanted more water than would fit in her cages) and squirted it through her helmet and down her back.
Then, as a show of solidarity and good will and stuff, I also hosed down her riding partner.
I probably should have asked first. You know, out of politeness or whatever.
The Hammer and Ellie pulled away, joining the rest of their group.
And Blake and I resumed standing on our toes, expecting Lindsey immediately.
Lindsey did not arrive immediately, if you define “immediately” as “this very instant.”
She also did not arrive immediately if you define “immediately” as “within five minutes or so.”
Still we stood on tiptoe, Blake’s 5’8” not much better at seeing past the crowd than my 5’7”.
Ten minutes went by. We became concerned.
Fifteen minutes went by. We became a little freaked out. Or at least I did. (Blake would argue that he did not become freaked out; I would argue that Blake is always freaked out.) While a good case could be made for Lisa being the person you’d expect to see out front this far into a very long race, I would not have expected Lindsey to be very far behind at all. These two women are about as close to each other in terms of speed and power as I’ve ever seen.
So what was going on?
And then Lindsey rolled in, and Blake and I began to bustle wth alacrity.
“What can we get you?” I asked, simultaneously service-minded and expeditious.
“Oh, I don’t care,” Lindsey replied.
That…was not a good answer. Which is to say, it is not the kind of answer you give when your race is going well.
But I — apparently — am not the kind of crew that takes verbal and body language clues. I — apparently, again — am the kind of crew who is 100% business.
In the absence of direction, I set Lindsey up the way I’d want myself set up. New bottles. Take some electrolytes with a slug of water. Gel wrappers out of the right jersey pocket, new gels in the left jersey pocket.
OK, fine, here’s your pop-tart too. For crying out loud.
And — since I suspected that heat and dehydration were playing their role in this — I emptied a bottle of water over her head. No, it wouldn’t keep her cool for long, but it would feel nice for a few minutes. And sometimes, a few minutes is all it takes to punch your physical, mental, and emotional reset button. For your race to reboot, so to speak.
Lindsey was on her way, and Blake and I ran to the truck. Or at least, we did the best approximation of a run that we could, considering all the stuff we were carrying.
The Hammer had a fifteen minute head start on us toward the next pit stop: Alpine. We needed to hurry, or we weren’t going to be ready in time.
Hey, even when I’m crewing, I’m racing.
And this seems like a good place to pick up (and likely conclude) in the next installment (which will be Tuesday since on Monday I’ll be launching the 100 Miles of Nowhere).
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