Forgive me for the delayed posting here. Work has become… work. Back to Portland, back to CM, back to Portland, back to… you get the picture. Anyway, the 2012 100 MILES OF NOWHERE:
Prior to the weekend of this ride, I always felt like – I don’t mind century rides at all… never stopping to think that I’ve really only ever completed… one.
I guess for anyone reading this who was not around last year, it’s best you take a moment and read exactly what happened to me during the 2011 100 Miles Of Nowhere.
Read about the epic fail here. Go ahead. We’ll all wait.
Dum dee dum dee dum…
Okay, finished? Got the picture? Not pretty on its own, and horrendously ugly with the whole Gordon Lightfoot thing.
So this year I decided to return to that same route in Agoura Hills and take my revenge. I knew where I’d made my mistakes, both in food/drink and music. This year I would fuel myself better and more regularly. I would not go “Contador” on the hill early, but rather “Schleck” it the entire way.
Contador = out of the saddle, dancing on the pedals. Schleck = sitting and spinning.
And the music… no Gordon Lightfoot within a hundred kilometers of my iPod. (I use kilometers for our readers across the pond)
The night before, I created an entirely new playlist – 4 and a half hours of music, no Lightfoot, and lots of Rapha music.
I had Gu’s, I had energy bars, I had a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I had fruit, I had Gu Brew, and I had water. Where you ask did I have this plethora of cycling fuel?
I had something this year that I did not have last year… a SAG Wagon.
That’s right. Support and Gear. Mostly support. My trusty planet-destroying SUV would serve as the official 100MON SAG Wagon.
Last year I rolled right out of the place I was living and began riding the Loop. This year, I drove over to the Loop, parked the SAG Wagon and then began with a warm up. And for the first ten miles everything was working like a perfectly tuned Swiss watch. Or German rather. Say a Lange & Sohne Datagraph.
I warmed up for about six or seven miles around the neighborhood, spinning lightly with a little climbing. In the true spirit of the 100 Miles of Nowhere I found a tiny circle approximately 200 meters ’round, and rode around it again and again until I had done one mile. That was a lot of circles.
Then it was off to the Loop – site of last year’s epic fail.
Around and around I went, my music playing, my legs spinning up each climb and cruising down each descent. Then, on one of my loops I noticed some large trucks rumbling up the street. Another loop around and suddenly I was dodging all sorts of debris and trucks and humans in orange vests.
They had decided to trim trees on this very street on this very Saturday morning. They set up a detour that was no big deal for cars, but really took the teeth out of the climbing part of my Loop. Crap. How can I do my MacArthuresque return if I can’t ride the same Loop?
Find another one.
And I did. From mile 18 to mile 22 I rode around a loop that did not have quite the same elevation gain, but would still be quite adequate for the 100MON. Why you ask, did I say only to mile-22?
Because at mile-22 my chain broke.
No, it didn’t drop. It broke. As in… in half.
I have a video of me walking back to the SAG Wagon, The Goat over my shoulder, whining about my broken chain. I won’t pain you with those sounds and images.
I drove about 30 minutes to All Pro Bikes – where I purchased The Goat, and saw the amazing Gina. Let me pause here to tell you about the amazing Gina…
Imagine one part Marisa Tomei, one part Rebecca Rusch, and one part the Angie Gennaro character from Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie/Gennaro novels, and you have the amazing Gina. Gina and the stellar folks at All Pro commented that they had never seen a chain break like this. Ever.
They promptly gave me a new chain, lubed and checked The Goat and I was ready to roll again for the price of $0.00.
I love the amazing Gina and All Pro Bikes.
But after the 30 minute drive-time, the 30 minutes at the shop, I knew that another 30 minute drive back to Agoura Hills was going to severely cut into my riding time. And I did not want to spend all day on this stupid 100MON <<foreshadowing!
I made an executive decision. I decided I would continue the 100MON in the truest spirit of the ride and just start riding right there in the parking lot of All Pro Bikes. So I did. Around and around the parking lot. Then around and around the neighborhood streets surrounding All Pro Bikes.
Around and around and…
I pulled up to the SAG Wagon at one point and checked the mileage. 42 miles down. I was feeling great. Like really great. I’m sure the hour rest during the broken chain mishap and the lack of any climbing over the last 20 miles helped. I knew this wasn’t right. I knew this wasn’t in the true spirit of the 100MON.
The 100MON is about suffering. We don’t ride in annoyingly tiny circles or climb unclimbable heights or put ourselves through day-long Sufferfests for fun. We do it to raise money and awareness of what true suffering really is. To try and help those with cancer.
I was not suffering enough.
So I went in search of hills. I found one just a few miles from All Pro Bikes. It was perfect – almost no traffic, and a nearly straight half-mile climb up, and half-mile descent down. Only about a 4-5% grade on the climb, but doing it over and over and over would eventually make it feel like Mount Washington. Right?
I rode this thing again and again from mile 40-something to mile 60-something, and I was still feeling great. Feeling no pain as they say. I started pushing it up the hill and down the other side. Faster. Faster. Eventually, I had completed 2/3 of the 100MON and felt like I’d been on a 40-mile ride. I was feeling too good. There was only thing to do.
I loaded up the SAG Wagon and headed for Rock Store.
Rock Store. Probably the most famous climb in all of Cycling Mecca. Two and half miles with an average grade of 7.3% with a few pitches to 10%. The fact that it doesn’t ever pitch up to 15% or 18% doesn’t mean it’s easier, it means that the average rarely dips below 7.3%.
My best time up Rock Store is about 21 minutes. And that was when I was in my very best riding shape. And that was without 2/3 of a 100MON tacked on the front of the ride.
I drove over to where my cycling club meets for our weekend rides. From there the ride to Rock Store arrives after about 12 or so miles of rollers. I SAG’d up, and started riding. Shadows were growing longer, and after cranking up and over the rollers, I was beginning to get that feeling of suffering I’d been wishing for.
Be careful what you wish for.
I hit Rock Store and started climbing. 75 miles into the 100MON. It hurt. I suffered. I remember thinking – during one particularly painful switchback – “Why the hell didn’t I just keep riding the little half-mile climb over by All Pro Bikes? Oh yeah, because I wasn’t suffering enough… oh, yeah, and I’m a complete idiot.”
Thank God for music. And – yes, I’m about to say it – thank God for George Michael.
There I said. And I ain’t taking it back.
Because let me drop some science on you, peeps. As bad as The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald is when you are suffering on a bike, and it is disastrously, colossally, magnificently bad — that is exactly how good George Michael’s FREEDOM is.
Yes. Freedom. Yes. The one with the video of Linda Evangelista and Christy T and Cindy and all the SuperModels (back when there still were SuperModels) singing the tune. This one:
Uh, huh. Try it. I’m serious. Put it on your playlist and go climb a mountain or ride at a 20+mph pace for a while and see what it does to your legs.
So, yeah, back to Rock Store. Pain. Suffering. Freedom.
Glory through suffering.
I made it up Rock Store. I was done, right? WooHoo!
I descended as fast as I could with my brain and body turning to mush – which was not fast at all. It was one of the scariest descents I’ve ever done because, quite frankly, I was in a complete FF.
I remember starting the descent – passing the dude on the side with the yellow Ducati – and then the next thing I remember is… being back at the SAG Wagon. I don’t even remember riding back over the rollers.
I ate an apple at the SAG Wagon and checked Hal 9000 again… 89 miles.
Shut up, George.
11 miles to go. I was going to fail again.
The sun was setting on Cycling Mecca and on my 100MON. I was freezing now – yes, freezing in May. I thought, “Just get to 95 miles. Go farther than last year.”
I started riding. Turned right out of the parking lor, rode down a ways, turned right again, rode, turned right again, rode and turned right again. I was back where I started and…
I had gone exactly one mile.
Once around this place is one mile… all I need is to ride around it ten more times. I started pedaling.
I had removed the iPod after returning from Rock Store. I don’t know why. Like I said, these last miles were completed in a total fatigue fog.
I rode another lap. 9 miles to go… another 8. Then another… 7 miles to go. The sun nearly down now, and shivering on the bike.
I rode back to the SAG Wagon and grabbed my rain jacket. Not a cycling rain jacket, mind you, but an actual regular rain jacket. I didn’t care. I was freezing. I zipped up and started riding again.
Another lap. 6 miles to go. Then another. 5 miles. I had broken last year’s epic fail! That inspired me and I stood out of the saddle and cranked it. Another lap. Then another.
At 97 miles in I must have looked like an absolute crazy person. Riding as fast as I could, in a full rain jacket in 60 degree weather. And I think I was laughing.
The laughter of the criminally insane.
2 miles to go.
One mile left to COMPLETE my first ever 100 Miles Of Nowhere.
I did it. Epic success. Okay, not epic, but take a look at this freaking elevation profile:
And here’s the proof:
Special thanks go out to the following:
the SAG Wagon – for life
The Noodleator (Janeen McCrae) – for true inspiration and reminding us all why we ride (and suffer)
Hova – not a better cycling coach on the planet (decent brother, too)
All Pro Bikes (and the amazing Gina) – without your wrenching magic I could not have finished
Fatty – for starting this diabolical ride
George Michael, David Fincher and everyone involved with the song and video for FREEDOM – without whom I’d still be out there riding
And lastly, thank you to all of you. Seriously. There was more than one time out there when I thought that if I quit, I was going to have to face all of you around here. So thank you for tuning in and spending time with me and my neurosis. I love you all. Except the one creepy guy in the back there.
Ride your bike.
Never give up.
Fair winds and following seas, Willy