Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Dark 100 Revealed

The Dark 100

What if you were certain you could win a 100-mile bicycle race?  What if you could do something good for kids affected by their parent’s cancer while achieving greatness on the racecourse? 

When I first read about the 100 Miles of Nowhere at, my favorite cycling blog, I knew I had to do it.  Fatty, as Elden Nelson dubs himself in his blog, describes the 100 MoN as “a race without a place”.  Visit Fatty's 2011 100 MoN post for great description of the ride and it's objectives.  And this year's race:  Fatty's 2013 100 MoN post

I was immediately taken with the idea of 500+ cyclists around the world (the race is restricted to 500 registrants worldwide, poachers of the ride are represented by “+”) each endeavoring to travel 100 miles while getting nowhere, each planning their own kind of monotony.
100 miles on the trainer in your basement pain cave not sound like fun?  This is some other person's Pain Cave.  Cozy, huh?

How about riding around the block 100s of times until you hit 100 miles? Or 3000 laps?  Seriously, click the "3000 laps" link so you can instantly feel more rational than this guy.

Or you could ride up and down a long hill until your legs scream in agony and residents along the course complain about your whimpering.  See this video: The Vehemence of Suckage by the Noodle, aka the Noodleator.  She's not normal.

Having missed registration for the race two years ago, I vowed to get in for 2012 and began to dream of original ways to ride (and WIN) my division in the 100 MoN.  The swag bag alone is worth the cost of admission, not to mention bragging rights and the possible opportunity to tell the story of my remarkable first-place finish in my division on Visit 2012 100 MoN to see swag and read more about the good-deeds side of riding the 100 MoN.

After scoring a coveted position in the race last year, (2012)  I embarked on planning a ride and write-up worthy of a berth on Fatty’s blog.  That’s when I realized I was already registered for a ride with my brother and another friend on that day. Now, there’s nothing that says the 100 MoN must be raced on the race day selected by Fatty, but I wanted to try to make something of combining the ride with the “race”.   My companions were eager to poach the 100 MoN and I geared up to make tacky poacher-versions of the t-shirt for them.

We were registered to ride the beautiful Tour de Pepin in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Tour de Pepin   (TdP) offers three ride distances and circles Lake Pepin with the shorter distances using a paddleboat ride to get back to the starting point.

Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake, and the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River.

By combining one short course and one long course, we could ride 104 miles.  Since I all but promised a spectacular write-up and video, the TdP organizers were excited about our plans and they were open to the idea of us double-dipping the ride.  It would mean a paddleboat ride for us after 32 miles, then a full 72-mile loop of the course.  And this is why there are a few lame nautical references earlier:  the paddleboat ride.  I like to wrap things up that way.

Speaking of double-dipping the ride, there IS ice cream available along the route for double-entendre double-dipping.  And!  The Tour de Pepin organizers are offering a 100-mile route this year.  I like to think our plans last year inspired them.  I like to think I’ve inspired many great things.  It feels good.

Enough with the foreshadowing! 

We didn’t do the ride.  Oh, don't act so surprised.  Proper foreshadowing by a decent writer would not have been so obvious.  What can I say?  I'm not a real writer.

My husband’s cancer came back and I was with him at The Mayo Clinic while he recuperated from what turned out to be a life-changing surgery.  Over the ensuing summer we wrangled with Paul’s post-operative complications and radiation therapy, then celebrated our only child’s high-school graduation and became empty nesters.  For a more full picture of Paul’s cancer journey, visit our Caring Bridge site:  Paul's Caring Bridge Page, where we found a way to have fun with our friends and family while fighting a serious battle.

When things finally settled down, my brother (Del) and I revisited the 100 MoN concept and came up with a great idea:

“Let’s ride 100 miles in the dark,” we said.

“Let’s invite a bunch of other people to join us,” we decided.

“T-shirts and sag driver?”  “Of course!”

“October 13 sounds good. No bugs, not too hot, maybe no snow.”

And the Dark 100 was conceived.

We like to think of it as:
The ultimate “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” ride

And then we didn’t ride.   Seriously, did you not see this coming?

This time it was my fault. 

Maybe it was because, sooner or later, the previous 15 months of Paul’s illness was going to catch up with me, or perhaps I’m just a wuss.  I got sick after a tooth extraction & dry socket and the cascade of complications took me out for several weeks.  Barely dragging my carcass to work each day, I was forced to cancel the ride again.  But we’ve still got the T-shirts, decorative lighting, planned route, sag driver and lodging, not to mention our unrealistic hopes and dreams for an epic ride.

Third time’s a charm?  It jolly well better be!

We ride Friday night, May 31 into Saturday June 1, 2013.   We are diverse in age and background but all share a common trait:  We are optimistic fools, every one of us.

Participant bios:

·      Jason, who joins us for the ride shortly after arriving from Taiwan, meets our requirements for international travel and a rider that speaks in tongues. 

·      Siri, age 12, broadens the age range of the group by plenty-lots and is likely to be the most “adult” of the pack. 

·      Warren, aka Warren Peace, brings the longest legs and the oldest bike.  Perhaps the oldest frame, as well.

·      Del, my brother, boasts the shortest attention span, which is why we ride in the dark.  The less he sees, the less he’ll be distracted.  He's a strong rider, willing to take long pulls if he's focused.  Squirrels aren’t out at night and shiny things are, well, less shiny in the dark.

Stay tuned for more bios, talk of Cool Equipment, and something about PIE, which is essential for "sanctioned" rides.  Visit Fatty's post about pie: We Want Pie! for a clearer understanding of the importance of pie in the life of a dedicated everyman cyclist.

My nephew penned this little ditty about the ride:

Dark Dark Dark One Hundred
Sleepy Hamlets will be Plundered
Dark Dark Dark Marauders
Shush your Sons and Hide your Daughters
Dark Dark Dark The Riders
Seen By Terrified Survivors
Dark Dark Dark Their Laughter
Chills your Bones Forever After!

T-shirt worthy, no?  Or maybe a poster with sinister images and ominous coloring.

And now, the most important thing, the sticky in the wicket, the switch for the bait:

The all important Doing Good Things plug.  Yes, I do plan to offer you the opportunity to make a donation to this amazing charity.  Visit and learn.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Getting ready for the Dark 100 Miles of Nowhere, my brother (the troll) and I scouted the Lake Woebegone Trail in central Minnesota last November.  During hunting season.  Which was dumb.

Though we did not get mistaken for deer, we did see many hunting parties tromping the woods, meadows and marshes along the trail.  As we rode along, we wondered why the winter gates were all closed, forcing us to dismount and walk around two gates each time the trail crossed a road.  When we started seeing the hunters, we figured out the trail was probably closed... for our safety.

We lived to ride another day!  In another post, I'll shed light on the story of the Dark 100 Miles of Nowhere, coming up on May31-June 1 2013.

Graphic for the front of our t-shirts. We got these shirts from the incomparable cycling apparel company, TwinSix and added some sleeve art that is highly secret and quite awesome.

My brother, Del the Troll Bakkum, along the Woebegone trail.  Note, it is not dark out.  It will be when we ride the Dark 100 Miles of Nowhere.

I am the Troll's much younger sister. Yes, I wear a dork mirror when I ride.