I don’t need much encouragement to get on my bike for a long ride. Fat Cyclist threw out a challenge to ride 100 mile race to benefit Camp Kesem, a nationwide community driven by passionate college student leaders, supporting children through and beyond their parent’s cancer.
Or not ride 100 miles. The “100 Miles” part of 100 Miles of Nowhere is more a guideline than a rule.
It’s not so much a race as nobody is required to be in any one location to race.
To keep with the odd nature of the “race” I decided to make it part of my own odd goal: to bike on every street in Newton.
I’ve become obsessed with the Heatmap feature of Strava. It tracks where you ride and marks those streets in blue. As you ride on them more often, the streets turn a darker blue and eventually pink.
I’ve been altering my bike commutes to work so that I travel over different streets. On the weekends, I try to get out to some of the more distant streets without the time limit of the commute. Slowly, I’ve been turning the streets of Newton blue and pink.
I thought the 100 Miles to Nowhere would be a perfect fit for riding more streets in Newton and turning more of them blue.
I wanted to ride 100 miles, but all the twists and turns of going up and down the streets makes for a very slow pace. I would be quickly burning through time, but not mileage.
I had a hard stop at noon. Mrs. Doug insisted. I was not going to use up more husband points to squeeze in a longer ride.
Noon was the stop. So that means the start had to be early. I was off at dawn.
With an early morning weekend start, I could tackle a dangerous road that I have until now avoided: Route 9 / Boylston Street. It’s a fast moving divided highway that funnels traffic from Interstate 95 to the shopping centers of Chestnut Hill. Saturday at noon, a cyclist would risk being roadkill. Saturday at 6am, the traffic would be sparse enough for me to feel safe.
I was quite surprised to see signs targeted at cyclist at the few traffic signals on Route 9. I’m sure very few cyclists have seen the signs. I dutifully stopped on the mark to request the green light. I assume it worked.
After a getting some speed traveling the westbound side and then circling back eastbound on Route 9, I detoured south and began targeting a few streets on the south side of the city that have been evading my bike tires. Then I planned a circumnavigation of the city before tackling more of the untraveled streets.
But then I did something stupid.
Autumn in New England is beautiful. After the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and orange, they fall on the streets. As pretty as the leaves are, they provide poor traction for bike tires.
I had traded messages earlier in the week with C4, another rider on my Pan-Mass Challenge team, about the danger of leaves. I knew the danger.
I was coming downhill with a right-hand corner to take. I saw the leaves covering the street. I should have braked harder before I got to the leaves.
But I didn’t.
My tires hit the leaves, the leaves left the street. My tires went with leaves, leaving me on the street. I landed hard on my side, knocking the wind out of me. Fortunately, the leaves were deep enough that I slid on them like a Slip n’ Slide.
After a few minutes of cursing at myself, I dusted myself off and felt an oozing wetness on my side.
“Great,” I thought, “I’m bleeding all over the place.”
I touched the sore spot and came back with sticky brown fingers. Did I poop myself on the fall? I think I would have noticed that. And the sticky brown stuff smelled pretty good. Like apples and brown sugar.
Then I realized that my right-side pocket was filled with snacks and energy gels. I had crushed them and popped the packages, sliming my back and pocket with gooey carbohydrates.
At least I was in one piece, even if my food supply was not. I was sore, very sore, but got back on the saddle.
The rest of the ride was unremarkable. I biked a circumnavigation of city limits of Newton. Or at least as close I could manage with the street patterns. I may have wandered across the Newton city line at a few points into Brookline, Waltham and Watertown. And I filled in a few more streets on my heatmap.
I arrived back home right at noon and Mrs. Doug had just arrived as well.
I managed to bike for 75 miles, with 2,000 feet of climbing. All but a few of those miles were in Newton. That means I had passed the 100 kilometer mark in the City of Newton.
Originally, I thought that would be enough. Then I discovered that Chris Smith had ridden for 100 miles on the Wells Avenue circle in Newton on Sunday. I changed my division to be the most miles ridden in Newton on 11/7/2015 before noon.
I’m proud to announce that I won the 100 Kilometers in Newton Before Noon Division. I crossed the 100 KM mark before noon on Saturday. The thrill of victory.
Since it was a division of one, I also came in last place. The agony of defeat.