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Saturday, May 8, 2010

FatCyclist.com 271.5 Miles of Nowhere

I had this brilliant idea last year of selling miles at $5 apiece and letting donors pick my poison: stationary bike at the gym. road bike on my trainer in the garage, or a .15-mile loop at the top of the hill. I almost reached my goal of raising $1000, the .15-mile loop won and I rode 176 miles around and around and around for 11 hours.

For the 3rd annual FatCyclist.com 100 Miles of Nowhere, I upped the ante. This year, I asked for $10 a mile, hoping again to hit $1000. Thinking 100 miles was a reasonable expectation and more would be awesome, I started promoting and begging. Going into Wednesday of the final week of donation for mileage, I was worried I wouldn't hit 100.

Thursday morning, while eating breakfast, a big donation dropped in my email box. Then another one. Suddenly, I was staring down 250 miles. Then a couple more donations came in and the final total was an eye-popping $2715, or 271.5 miles.

A deal is a deal and I said I would go 200 on Saturday for sure and finish on Sunday. The plan was to drop the resistance to nearly nothing and just go crazy. It worked for a couple of folks last year and my confidence in completing all those miles otherwise was a little low.

I packed up the Jeep Friday night with a lighter version of the outreach booth I had at the Iris Festival last year. I loaded up brochures, wristbands, and the vertical Team Fatty sign I had made for the events last year. I tossed in a table and the trainer. As an afterthought, I threw in a piece of plywood. Turns out that was amazing foresight because the ground at the park was so soft.

Once the Jeep was packed, I prepped bottles for water, sports drink and protein drink, filled a bag with all the food items and extra drink powder, and drug out the cooler. I grabbed layers, shoes and extra gear and stuffed it all in a duffle bag for the transition times in the morning and evening, figuring I'd be there for a LONG time.

The morning started slowly as I filled bottles while Grandma and Grandpa came over to watch the girls so I could spin and my wife could go work. I loaded the cooler and the bike into the Jeep and rolled out a little after 8:00 a.m., a later start than I intended but such is life with little ones and leaving home for this insanity.

I stopped for a breakfast smoothie and oatmeal from Jamba Juice before getting to Riverfront Park to set up. I planted myself near the playground so the girls could have some fun when they came to visit. Setting up the table, the awning and the bike took some time so I got started at 9:16 a.m.

The first few miles involved troubleshooting the Garmin which suddenly was giving 100+ mph speed. Turns out it was automatically setting the wheel size at nearly 10 meters in circumference. This was what it looked like:

Once I got it set back to 2.1 meters, I restarted the recording. Things went smoothly until I decided to wind it up at about mile 18. The magnet on the spoke flipped outward and smacked the arm of the speed/cadence sensor for the Garmin, so I was without any way to measure distance. I pulled the bike off the trainer and pedaled over a block to my favorite local bike shop, Scott's Cycle. I knew they had a sensor in stock if we couldn't get the other one working. After a few minutes of fiddling and troubleshooting, no luck so we cracked open the new one, set it up and tightened it down (a little more firmly than before to prevent a repeat performance).

I rolled back over to the park and set up on the trainer to resume spinning and forgot to restart the timer for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, that was the end of major problems for the day. It also meant the first 30 miles were the slowest of the day.

I'm not entirely sure the reason for this particular look, but I was over one-tenth of the way to the end. (And it's the first picture I have of myself where I wasn't moving the camera which made a slight funhouse mirror effect.)

The day was gorgeous. I watched the arthritis walkers go by in the morning as the dew evaporated from the grass. The slight breeze made the ride bearable. I caught a pretty good groove about mile 50 or so and it lasted through mile 100.

The cheering committee arrived with lunch a little before I hit the century mark.

I also had a couple of friends come down with their dogs to enjoy the sunshine, chat and play and a colleague from school drop by with his son with snacks. I appreciated the company very much.

Don't they look comfy? I decided to push hard to 100 miles, a decision I would regret shortly after.

The numbers on the Garmin don't lie. The rear wheel travelled 100 miles.

Sure, I was a little tired but feeling strong.

The girls left for nap time and my iPhone was running low on batteries so I couldn't use Facebook to distract me. I had another couple of friends stop by to see how I was doing. She lost her dad to cancer earlier this year and they have always been very supportive. They had another batch of snacks from Great Harvest (yum) but didn't stay long.

I hit the doldrums at about mile 110 - the hind end was hurting and I was slowing down. Fortunately, the teacher in the classroom next door and her husband dropped in with a bag full of orange slices and an hour's worth of chit chat. I was distracted enough to power through to the halfway mark, looking cool (or something).

At this point, my iPhone was almost completely dead, so I stopped updating online. I also missed the words of encouragement from Facebook-land as I posted updates. It died right after mile 175 so I was stuck, alone, and not knowing when dinner and the support crew were going to arrive. It's hard to be 7+ hours into something like this and to be surrounded by people but totally alone. I found myself trying anything to avoid thinking about the pain coming from the seat.

As I crossed into thinking about the reasons why I was out there, I got caught by a wave of emotion. I shouldn't be doing this. I shouldn't have to do this. This is stupid (in so many ways). We have to beat this thing, cancer. No one should have to live with the uncertainty cancer brings. We should be able to fix it and leave patients and their families as whole as possible.

One of the best moments was crossing the 200 mile mark. I was hurting, for sure, but it was a moment where I knew I could keep the wheel turning and finish in one day.

At 200 miles, this face isn't screaming, "No more!"

Finally, the girls got back to the park with another big Jamba Juice. I had pretty sour stomach at that point and Jamba is the one thing I know I can put down no matter how lousy I'm feeling. (Almost sounds like an endorsement and they did give me some BOGO coupons that morning, but I paid for both of the ones I had.)

And here it is...
It's the face that says, "Ow!", in so many ways. This was around mile 236. I was figuring if I really cranked on it, I could finish in about and hour.

As I got closer to the finish, I distracted myself with Facebook updates, since my wife also brought my fully-charged backup battery. Friends of ours, who brought their kids, were there, so the girls went to the playground and carousel with them.

As I counted down on Facebook, I spun the wheel about as fast as I could go. I finished just a little before everyone came out of the carousel, with an extra mile for good measure. We took the obligatory finished photographs and, in a moment of irony, I didn't want to get off the bike.
My wife, knowing there was the real potential for me to be completely useless on Mother's Day, supported the effort and was excited that I was able to raise so much money and ride so far.

After 9 and a half hours, we packed up all the gear and handouts and headed to Applebee's (girls' choice) for a post-ride meal. I ran into a couple of students, one of whom remembered what I was doing and asked how it went. I think it can be summarized simply - it hurt, but it was good.

(And the students, well, they took second in the state choir competition, so good for them.)


Jenni said...

Great great ride report. You're such a rockstar.

Lindsay said...

Totally awesome! You rock :)