Just after he puts his kids on the bus this morning, John Rafferty of Westerly will get on his bike and join 499 other cyclists for a 100-mile race.
Except Rafferty will be riding all alone.
He's part of the 5th annual Fat Cyclist 100 Miles of Nowhere, an event started five years ago by Elden Nelson of Utah, who rode 100 miles on his rollers. A few friends joined him the next year and now the event has grown to where the 500 slots sell out in hours and proceeds from the $89 entry fee go to the Livestrong Foundation which uses them to fund trips to a camp for kids whose parents have cancer.
What's unique about this event is the cyclists from around the country create their own course and their own division, so they are sure to win their category. Some cyclists ride hundreds of laps around their neighborhood and Navy personnel have done it on exercise bikes aboard an aircraft carrier.
Everyone in the event gets a race number for their bike, T-shirt, water bottles and other swag along with a good chance to receive backpacks, cycling jackets and other items randomly given out to competitors.
"Weirdly, the 100 Miles of Nowhere has become an odd community event even though we all do it alone," Nelson wrote on his website at www.fatcyclist.com.
Rafferty, who has been my Tuesday swim workout partner for years, has set up an eight-mile loop that begins and ends at his home where he will have an Adirondack chair and cooler set up on the front lawn for breaks. His 13-loop course is over rough roads and crosses the Connecticut-Rhode Island border 26 times.
"My goal is to be done by the time the kids get off the bus this afternoon," he said on Thursday. "That's my plan anyway."
I asked him why he entered the event.
"I wanted to be in a good event that was a little out of the norm. With this I don't have to drive anywhere in the morning, I can sleep in my own bed and there no port-a-potty lines," he said.
While the race officially takes place Saturday, Rafferty decided to go a day early while his kids are in school.
He is competing in the "male 45-49 multi-state loop course, steel frame division."
"I'm hoping no one else is in it," he said.
Rafferty is already looking ahead to next year's ride and has picked out what he says is a perfect course - a paved one-kilometer bike loop in the Avondale section of town that he will have to ride about 160 times.
On the schedule
• The Stonington Village 5K Fun Runs are now being held on Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m. through the end of August beginning at the Dog Watch Cafe in Stonington Borough. For more information contact Stephen Bessette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Twilight Trail run, which consists of 3.2- and 7.4-mile trail races, will be held today at 6 p.m. at Bluff Point State Park in Groton. More information is at www.twilighttrailrun.com.
• The 11th annual Lions Club of Pawcatuck Be Thankful You Can See 5K, two-mile walk and kids run will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. Applications are at snerro.com.
• The 27th annual Mystic River Valley Triathlon will be held Sunday at 8 a.m. at the Mystic branch of the Ocean Community YMCA. The race consists of a half-mile swim, 14.4-mile bike ride and 3-mile run. For more information go to www.oceancommunityymca.org.
• The 37th annual Tom McCoy Fun Runs, which are held at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through Aug. 22 with the exception of July 4, begin June 13 at the Pleasant View Inn in Misquamicut. There is a 5K, one-mile run and a one-third mile run for kids.
Joe Wojtas is The Day's running columnist