Q&A With Doug Ulman, President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

10.7.2008 | 8:32 am

On September 25, I attended the Lance Armstrong press conference. I had a few questions written down about how Lance hoped to use his return to the sport to fight cancer, so kept my hand in the air for pretty much the whole conference.

Toward the end, I bounced up and down and waved that arm around vigorously, thinking that maybe if I looked like I really needed to use the bathroom, Lance would call on me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask my questions — it turns out that Greg Lemond figured that he needed some extra quality time with Lance, and the rest of us could just wait.

Of course, I still got a photo of me with Eddy Merckx, so I have no regrets, but I still had my questions.

So I emailed them to Doug Ulman, President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (I have his email address because he sent me a really nice “thanks” email after the Ibis Silk SL raffle).

And you know what? He answered them. Pretty cool, if you ask me. And I didn’t even have to frantically wave my arm around in the air.

Here we go:

How will Lance riding as a pro help achieve the 3 goals stated in the Global Cancer Initiative?
He will be riding in countries all over the world and while there, engage with world leaders to talk about cancer in their country and how they might make a commitment to address the cancer burden.

He will also be a visible sign that cancer is not a death sentence and challenge the myths and misperceptions often associated with the disease. Through his appearances and media interviews, Lance will speak about the importance of cancer survivors sharing their stories and advocating for their rights to their leaders.

Say it’s Autumn 2010. What needs to have happened for you and Lance to call his return to pro cycling a success? What needs to have happened for you to call the Global Cancer Initiative a success?
For the Global cancer Initiative to have been a success, leaders and advocates from around the world will have participated in a world cancer summit in Paris at the conclusion of the Tour de France and have made significant commitments to address the cancer burden in their countries. Also, advocates from around the world will have been trained to ensure their governments are held accountable for the commitments made.

What new ways will people who are already fans of Lance and the LAF be able to leverage Lance’s return to pro cycling to further their efforts toward fighting cancer?
We will be asking people to visit www.livestrong.org to learn how they can take action and stay informed as to how they can make an impact in their community and country.

What ways do you hope to garner attention from those who aren’t interested in pro cycling or Lance’s return to it?
We hope to build momentum and global awareness that cancer should be on the agenda of all world leaders and that everyone has a role to play in reducing the burden of the disease – from individual health behavior to advocating for change to their leaders.

I’ve asked Doug — and Katherine McLane, Communications Director at LAF — to check in on this site a few times today. If you’ve got questions about LAF or the Global Cancer Initiative, post a comment and they might answer.

And Mr. Lemond, please don’t even think about hijacking my comments section.

Last Day for the Ciclismo Classico Raffle
As you have no doubt noticed, I’m not even remotely close to being an impartial journalistic type when it comes to LAF. I’m a fan. And I’m a fan because I’ve seen firsthand what good work they’re doing.

And that’s why I do these raffles.

Sure, there’s an outside chance you’ll win an awesome cycling trip in Italy or France, but probably not. No matter what, though, you’re helping fight cancer. And I can’t think of a fight that matters more. So click here to enter the raffle. You’ll find out who the winner is tomorrow — and hey, maybe it’ll be you!

Regardless, thanks for reading this past week while I focus on more serious topics, and thanks for joining in the fight.


A Susan — And Fatty — Update (Plus More Prizes)

10.6.2008 | 11:08 am

In comments and email, I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately for an update on how Susan’s doing. I’ve been mostly ignoring those requests, though. And I have a good reason.


Basically, things have been going pretty well for the last several weeks, and I’ve been loathe to jinx our good luck by saying, “Things have been going pretty well.”

However, it’s well known (within the part of my head that sets the rules for jinxes) that by explicitly acknowledging the potential jinx, you defuse it, so I think we’re OK, and I can give you a little bit of an update about how she’s doing…and about how I’m doing, too. Because I like to talk about me.

Mildly Good News Is Really Great News
Susan’s recent MRI shows no new cancer growth in any of her soft tissue trouble spots: nothing in her lungs, nothing on her liver. The MRI also shows that the blood clot that went into Susan’s lung is dissipating.

MRIs don’t show what’s going on in the bones and it’s been a while since Susan’s had a bone scan, so we don’t really know for sure how she’s doing there — and her bones are where the cancer has really taken root and given her trouble. However, a pretty simple way to tell whether you’ve got tumors growing in your bones is by the intense pain they cause — and Susan isn’t experiencing any new pain.

Susan’s tolerating her chemo very well. We seem to have the dosage right, because by being careful about what she eats, Susan isn’t feeling a lot of side effects from the Xeloda. Meanwhile, we’re slowly reducing the steroid (Decadron) dose, which Susan is really excited about, because she hates the way it puffs out her face. Who wouldn’t?

Susan has a physical therapist coming over to our house three times a week, helping Susan get some strength back into her legs. And it seems to be helping. I notice that Susan’s able to get around much more quickly and confidently with her walker, and is able to do tasks that she hadn’t been able to do just a month ago.

There are some little signs that Susan’s getting some feeling back in her lower legs. That’s of course good news, but the bad news is that feeling is in the form of pain. Susan’s being very tough about that, though, and only complains about the pain when I tell her that she’s required to complain at least a little bit or I won’t feel good about myself when I complain nonstop about this nasty hangnail.

As far as her brain goes, Susan’s still totally mentally clear, which is the best news of all.

How I’m Doing
If it’s OK, I’d like to take a moment to boast, because I feel like it. Namely, I feel like boasting that I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m able to take care of Susan and the kids. Right now, every day I am:

  • Getting the kids up
  • Getting the kids dressed and to school on time
  • Fixing all the meals for everyone
  • Taking care of the dishes
  • Doing the laundry
  • Straightening the house
  • Making sure homework gets done

Until this year, I’ve pretty much left these tasks to Susan. Sure, I could handle these jobs when Susan was sick or unavailable, but that was always in emergency mode. Now I do them every day, and I’m getting darn close to having them down to a system.

In addition to all this, I of course still have my job, this blog, and my cycling. And other stuff.

So yeah, I feel pretty pleased with myself. Kind of like I’ve moved into the Expert class or something.

Win a Cycling Trip in Italy or France — More Prizes!
As you no doubt know by now, Ciclismo Classico is donating a cycling trip — either the Maratona of the Dolomites in Italy or the Tour de France, your choice — as part of a raffle to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Well, The Minnehaha Classic Canvas Bag Company is sweetening the pot. First, Second and Third prize winners will also get their choice of one of the following:

Canvas Shoulder Bag


Canvas Saddle Bag


Canvas Grocery Bag Pannier


You’ve only got today and tomorrow to enter the raffle, so you’d better get going on it now.

An Open Letter to Blake L and His Parents

10.3.2008 | 12:13 pm

A Note from Fatty: The Ciclismo Classico Cycling Trip raffle continues. Learn more about it here and here, and buy tickets here.

Yesterday I got the following email from Carla:

Blake L is fighting for his life. He has leukemia and has received a bone marrow transplant. Various things have happened along the way. He has had seizures, they placed him in a drug coma, various infections, now he is “storming.” They are slowly bringing him out of the coma and he is starting to make eye contact.

He had promise playing football for —- State, now walking again would be a blessing. His parents have not left his side at Children’s in ——- in 4 months. They are looking for things to motivate and give hope. They have an excellent circle of friends with a wonderful prayer chain.

I am an ovarian cancer survivor and I know how important it is to get motivation and prayers. What I would love is an email to forward to Blake for his dad and mom to read to him about staying strong. Can you help?

I told her that I’d do my best, and asked if she minded if I made my letter public and asked my readers to offer their support to Blake and his family in the comments section here. Carla said that would be fine.

Dear Blake (and Blake’s parents),

I probably don’t have anything to tell you that you don’t already know. Since my wife is fighting cancer, too, maybe it’s helpful to hear from someone else who’s fighting a battle a little bit like yours.

There’s nothing at all good about having cancer. Not a single thing. I hate it and what it’s done to my wife more than I would have believed it possible for me to hate anything. I expect you hate what it’s done to you, too. And you should.

On the other hand, there are some pretty great things I’ve learned about me, about my wife, and about people in general.

I’ve learned that people are really good. We’ve gotten to know a lot of doctors and nurses, and we’ve gotten to know our neighbors better than we used to. Everyone I meet shares in our anger at cancer, and everyone wants to help in any way they can.

I’ve learned that everyone takes turns being both strong and weak. Sometimes I feel like I can take care of everything. Sometimes my wife feels like fighting. And sometimes neither of us feels like we can make it to the end of the day — I mean that seriously; there have been days when my wife simply has not been able to imagine how she could make it to bedtime. When you’re feeling strong, that’s great. And when you’re feeling weak, be weak. That’s fine, too. You’re already coping with something most people can’t even imagine. You have permission to tell people that you need them to do everything right now, that right now staying alive is all you’ve got energy for. I promise you that people will be glad to help, and will in fact be grateful to you for giving them a chance to pitch in.

I’ve learned that I can make it through the day. Whether you’re suffering or watching someone suffer, sometimes focusing on one simple thing — enduring — helps. Tell yourself you’re going to make it, and you will.

I’ve learned to not be surprised by surprises. Cancer seems to be as devious as it is evil, and we’ve been caught off guard by it several times. But we’ve learned that we can adapt and we can fight, and we can lean on people who will help us with that fight.

I’ve learned that there are good days. Sometimes, things will level off or even get easier. When your fight is especially difficult that may be hard to believe, but it’s true. You’ll have good days.

I’ve learned to say “thanks.” This has been a hard lesson for me, and I think it’s a hard lesson for most people, but it’s worth learning. When people offer help, say “thanks,” and find a way to take them up on it. When they offer to pray or meditate or send healing vibes or whatever, say thanks and take them up on it.

Be strong when you can, and be glad for others’ help when you need others to be strong. Hate the cancer, but be proud of your own strength. The fact that you’re fighting shows you are strong, even on the days when you don’t feel strong.



PS to FatCyclist.com readers: If you can, leave a comment offering your own thoughts and support. Thanks.

PPS: You can learn more about Blake, see photos, and read his parent’s journal by clicking here.

Some of Each

10.2.2008 | 10:09 am

A Note from Fatty: My friends at Twin Six have just kicked off their October Four-Day Sale, with jerseys at $45 and t-shirts at $15. Those are killer prices, so now might be a good time for you to stock up on your next-year’s riding gear. Click here to go to Twin Six now.

People who are strictly interested in road riding may not relate to this post. And people who are all about the dirt — and nothing but the dirt — won’t get it, either.

Those of you who — like me — love road and mountain biking equally, on the other hand, are about to become very, very jealous.

The Dream
Whenever I go road riding and I see an MTB trail that intersects the road, my mind wanders up that trail a bit. I have, hundreds (thousands?) of times thought to myself, “I’d like to string together pieces of my favorite road and mountain bike rides.”

I should also mention that I’ve talked to my friend Matt Chester about this dream (Disclosure: I maintain Matt’s website, such as it is. He likes to keep it (and everything else) simple): a bike that was reasonable on the road, but that was also capable on singletrack.

So Matt built me this:


Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce my MonsterCross. It’s a Titanium dinglespeed (I’ll explain that in a second) cyclocross bike with extra tire clearance for bigger tires, cantilever brakes and On-One Midge drop bars.

So last Saturday, I got on my new MonsterCross and took it for a ride. I figured a combination of the Alpine Loop road and Ridge Trail dirt network would be a good place to get acquainted.

Start on Road
A “dinglespeed” is like a singlespeed, but with two sets of gears. There’s no derailleur or tensioner involved, so you still have the “direct drive” connectedness that I like so much, but you do have two front rings and two cogs in the back. You change which set of gears you’re going to use by stopping, getting out a wrench, moving the chain onto the higher or lower gearset, pull the wheel back to tension the chain, and then tighten the wheel again.

It takes a few minutes, but the effect is worth it: you get a singlespeed feel, while being able to get around on either the road or dirt.

Since I’d be riding about ten miles before I touched dirt, I started with the bigger gearset: 36 x 16. It’s a good compromise gear; I can ride on the flat without spinning out right away, but I can still climb even the steepest parts of the Alpine Loop — albeit with plenty of standing, rocking, and grunting.

I managed to snap a picture while riding. This is just after Pine Hollow, for locals who care:


Oh, by the way, the temperature was 70 degrees, and the colors are starting to change. In other words, it wasn’t a half-bad day to be on the mountain.

Switch to Dirt
After several miles of road climbing and congratulating myself on picking the best day of the year to be on in American Fork Canyon, I came to my first singletrack turnoff.

A few minutes with the wrench and I went from this…


…to this:


Now, instead of a 36 x 16, I was riding a 34 x 18 — a good (though fairly steep) gear for mountain biking.

Time to hit the trail:


Not too shabby-looking, is it?

The Real Reason for this Post
One of the greatest mysteries in the world to me is why people stop mountain biking when Autumn arrives. It is — at least here — by far the best time to ride. It’s cooler, the trail is usually in better shape, and the view is remarkable.

I gloated these thoughts to myself — much as I am to you, now — as I rode sIingletrack to the top of the Alpine Loop.


From there, I continued — still on singletrack — down toward South Fork Deer Creek.


And here — while trying to take a picture of the changing Aspens — I accidentally got a really good shot of the Midge bars.


And then I was back on road again, now climbing back up to the Summit of the Alpine Loop. It’s a steep enough climb that I didn’t switch back to my “road” gearing. Luckily for me, I had an OK view to keep me company.

Here’s a shot I took while riding my bike up the pavement (these are all raw photos, by the way; I haven’t touched them with PhotoShop or anything else):


And here’s another.


Oh, have I mentioned this is the ride I do starting from my house? Just thought I’d rub that in a little.

Home Again
Back at the top of the Alpine Loop, I rode singletrack downhill to Pine Hollow. Which means I was riding this:


And looking at this:


The view could be worse.

From there, I was back on pavement, with a long downhill back to the mouth of the canyon. And then a few miles back to my house.

In conclusion, the MonsterCross is a success, and I live in a road/mountain bike lover’s paradise.

And I now command each and every one of you to envy me.

Or Maybe You’d Rather Go See The Tour de France

10.1.2008 | 10:31 am

Yesterday, I announced a new raffle (with all proceeds going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation) we’re doing where you can win a Ciclismo Classico tour to Italy.

Well, perhaps you’d rather go see — and ride the routes of — next year’s Tour de France instead?

Well, now you get to choose.

If you win this raffle (see yesterday’s post for details on how it works), you can choose whether you’d like to go on the Maratona of the Dolomites tour or the “Follow the Race in France” tour. If you select the TdF tour, you’ll get to:

  • View 3 stages of the race from the best vantage points
  • Ride portions of the race before watching the pros tackle them
  • Watch firsthand the drama of what I’m expecting to be a very interesting tour (has anyone considered the possibility of having all three people on the final podium be from the same team?)

Click here for more details on this tour.

Quick Recap on How to Enter
To enter this raffle, you simply donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation via Brad Stratton’s donation page. The more you donate, the more bonus tickets you get. See yesterday’s post for details.

I tell you what: this contest keeps getting more and more awesome.

And huge props to Ciclismo Classico for upping the ante on this prize. Be sure to check these guys out when you’re thinking about taking a bike trip.

PS: More prizes to be announced tomorrow, too!

« Previous Page     Next Entries »