The Happiest Day in a Long Time

01.20.2009 | 12:24 am

A few days ago, I mentioned that Susan’s hands have steadied; she felt like she could try making jewelry again.

On Saturday, she actually got to work. (First, though, I had to go to Home Depot and buy some Butane for her torch, because I had left the tank empty conducting my recent Very Important Scientific Experiments.)

We were both a little bit apprehensive, though neither of us ‘fessed up to this fact until afterward. Worried that her hands would start shaking, worried she wouldn’t have had the strength, worried that the part of her brain that lets her hands make what she pictures in her mind wouldn’t work anymore.

So, as insurance, I asked some Jennifer and Jeff to come over. Jeff and I have been friends since we were Freshmen in college; Jennifer and Susan both got interested in jewelry at about the same time (even though we lived in different states at the time).

I figured that if there were things Susan wasn’t up for, Jennifer could pick up the slack.

It turns out, though, that Susan got comfortable making jewelry right away.

So Jeff and I got busy with the chainbreaking tools, degreasing and dismantling a bike chain for Susan to use in the bracelets she’s making.

And then — while the women still worked — Jeff and I fired up the Playstation and played Rock Band. To everyone’s great disappointment, the microphone was not working, which meant I wouldn’t get to do my awesome Geddy Lee impression.

I sound just like him. Really, I do. At least, in my own head I do.

After Jeff and Jennifer left, Susan commented that it had been the happiest day she’d had in a long time. She’d been participating, doing what she loves to do, and felt like we’d had visitors, which is way way different from being visited. Specifically, it’s the difference between having friends over to your house and having people coming to see you at the hospital (whether you’re in the hospital or not).

Normal is exquisite. Those of you who have ever been sick for a long, long time know what I’m talking about.

A Reminder

Lately, I’ve started taking a lot of pride in my ability to take care of my job, my kids, my wife, and my house, singlehandedly for at least short stretches at a time.

I’ve become pretty efficient.

Then today I got a good reminder that sometimes efficiency isn’t always all that great of a thing.

I was helping Susan move from the living room — which we’ve got converted into a mini-bedroom for the two of us, since it’s on the main floor — into the family room.

The first step of this is to have Susan grip my right forearm with both her hands, while I take her feet with my left hand. In one swinging pivoting motion she pulls herself into a sitting position while I swing her around so she’s sitting on the edge of the bed.

Once there, she usually needs a minute to catch her breath and to get her feet to be ready for the stand-pivot-sit motion of getting into the wheelchair.

Today, like usual, I just stood there, giving her the time she needed. I don’t like to take too long, though, because I know Susan gets uncomfortable pretty soon if she doesn’t have her oxygen compressor going.

But this time she needed a few extra minutes; her back was sore from laying down all day.

So I sat on the bed and started scratching her back. No big deal.

And then she started crying. It was so nice, she said, to have me sitting beside her again. And I realized she’s right — I’ve been focusing so hard on trying to be a good, efficient nurse that I haven’t been spending the time I should on being a good husband.

It was good to sit beside each other, me scratching her back, her resting her head on my shoulder. For a few minutes, it was better and more necessary than air.

Really, it was just a normal moment. And I’m a huge fan of normal.

PS: Team Fatty has now raised more than $80,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation this year. We’ve got a good start toward that $1,000,000.


Rock Racing Clarifies “Here to Stay” Slogan

01.16.2009 | 10:50 am

A Note from Fatty: The raffle for the Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeed is still going on. Click here for details on how you can enter.


NEW YORK (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – Rock Racing today clarified its “Here to Stay” slogan prominently displayed on the splash screen of its web site.

Said Rock Racing owner Michael Ball, “When we say ‘Here to Stay,’ we mean it quite literally. For example, we had the option of buying a UCI license and going to the Tour de San Luis, or we could stay home.”

“We stayed.”

Continued Ball, “And now we’re applying the same metric to the Tour of California, as well as — frankly — all the other races of the season: should we go and race, or should we stay?”

Concluded Ball: “Quite likely, we won’t go anywhere. In other words, we are here to stay.”

Other Options Considered

According to Rock Racing Press Relations Officer Michael Ball, the team management has considered adopting other slogans in light of the team’s uncertain future. These slogans include:

  • Rock Racing: Here for a While.
  • Rock Racing: Here Until We’re Not.
  • Rock Racing: This Space for Rent.
  • Rock Racing: Can You Spare $300 for a Pair of Pants?

Ultimately, however, these options were rejected by the Team Board of Directors (consisting of Michael Ball), which elected instead to release another spate of 15 jersey designs, all of them mostly black with a skull.

Said Rock Racing Accessories and Team Products Officer Michael Ball, “These jerseys are a real steal at only $287.99.”

Alternative Fundraising Method Announced

Faced with uncertain economic times, Rock Racing CFO Michael Ball announced today that it would be adopting a fundraising model similar to Garmin-Chipotle’s very successful Argyle Club promotion.

“The Skull Club is our new exclusive, limited members-only fan club,” said Michael Ball, “and I’m pleased to announce the member benefits, which include:

  • Jersey of the Week: Each week you will get a mostly-black jersey with a skull on it. There will be a corresponding competition to determine what the difference is between the current week’s and previous week’s jersey design. The winner will get an actual human skull as a prize.
  • A Signed 8 x 10 Glossy Photograph of Michael Ball
  • One Pair of Pants: For an extra $300, these pants will even be in the correct size.
  • A Set of Five 4 x 5 Glossy Photographs of Michael Ball. To give to your very grateful friends and family. Not signed.
  • A Coupon Good for a Ride in One of the Team Escalantes. But you’ve got to fill the tank. Fair’s fair.
  • Race Day Tactics, Provided by Directeur Sportif Michael Ball: This feature only available if the team goes to any races.

“Membership in the Skull Club is offered at an introductory price of $49,995.95,” said Ball. “That’s only three times as much as you’d pay retail for the jerseys and pants. And since we always do a 300% markup, we figured that’s about right.”

Fight Cancer, Win a Superfly Singlespeed

01.14.2009 | 7:41 am

A Note from Fatty: Thanks to everyone for the enthusiasm you’re showing about Susan’s jewelry. She’s excited to get started — and in fact, this weekend she and a friend are going to begin work (and I will help by disassembling and degreasing chains). Once Susan has a feel for it, she’ll decide how many bracelets / necklaces she’s up to making, and that will determine whether she sells, auctions, or raffles her jewelry. Regardless, all proceeds will go toward the Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge. Stay tuned for details soon.

Win My Dream Bike

A while back, I mentioned that I had managed to get in on the pre-order list for a very limited, not-for-retail run of Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeeds. Since then, it has taken all of my willpower to not gloat and cackle with every waking moment, for the following reasons:

  • It’s a monocoque carbon frame w/ horizontal drops and slotted disc tabs, and custom paint
  • It has a Fox Float RLC 29 suspension fork
  • It has custom G2 geometry, upon which I am — having recently transformed from a horrible downhiller to a reasonably good one on exactly this geometry — pretty well sold
  • It’s a singlespeed. Duh.

And, well, just look at the thing:


(Build in photo for illustration purposes only. Components will be different on actual bike)

More important than any of this, though, is the most crucial fact of all: this bike is not for sale. Anywhere. And all of them that are being built are already spoken for.

In other words, if you haven’t got one on order, you can’t get one. Sorry.

OK, that’s not true. There is one way you can get this bike, because of what I am giddily about to announce:

Gary Fisher is Donating a Superfly Singlespeed Frameset for a Team Fatty Raffle

Yes, that’s right. This is the coolest singlespeed MTB on the market today — except, of course it’s not on the market — and the only way you can get one is by fighting cancer by donating to Team Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge.

How awesome is that?

“Very, very awesome” is the correct answer.

Oh, and you’re no doubt wondering what size the frame is. Well, it’s whichever size you want.

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Gary Fisher Bikes, and for Travis Ott, who is not just a great brand manager but also a really great guy.

If you already ride a singlespeed, you already know what this bike represents and can’t help wanting it.

And if you don’t ride a singlespeed, then you should do either of two things:

  1. Look into your heart of hearts and realize that you really do want a singlespeed and there’s no more awesome SS you could have than this one.
  2. Tell your friends who do ride a singlespeed (i.e., who have seen the light) about this raffle so they can take a shot at getting this bike.

But That’s Not All.

200901140625.jpgWinning a Superfly Singlespeed frameset is easily a big enough prize on its own, but I really, really wanted to give away a complete bike.

So I talked to Brent Hulme, the owner and operator of the extremely awesome SLC Bikes (if you’re local, come check the place out — it’s a beautiful shop, Brent’s a great guy, and he’s got excellent people helping him) and he said he’d spring for the components and the build, making this into the sexy, ready-to-ride machine it deserves to be.

And then he’ll box it up and ship it to you. And you will do a little dance because you have won something everyone else wants but nobody else can get.

But That’s Still Not All.

When I asked the folks at Gary Fisher to help Team Fatty raise money for the LiveStrong Challenge, they obviously came through in a huge way.

And not just as a company, either. Eric “Hootie” Bjorlin, the Trek Pavement Brand Manager, also put his own personal framed poster, signed by Lance Armstrong up as a raffle prize:


I know some of you will ask, so: No, Hootie is not included as part of the prize. Sorry.

Here’s a closer look at the poster, with less glare:


How Can You Win?
As those of you who have entered these raffles before know, all proceeds of the Team Fatty raffles this year go straight to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, because the work they’re doing in helping people fight cancer has made a big difference in Susan’s and my life and in the lives of many others I’ve met. (And also since I never actually handle any of the money, this is a lot easier on me around tax time.)

So you can win in either of two ways:

  1. Donate money to my LiveStrong Challenge page. For every $5 you donate at my Austin LiveStrong Challenge page during the rest of this month (January 2009), you get a raffle ticket, which could be the winner of either the bike or the poster. Click here to donate now.
  2. Raise money in your own Team Fatty LiveStrong Challenge page. If you’re a member of Team Fatty, every $5.00 you raise on your own LiveStrong Challenge page from now through the end of January earns you a raffle ticket, too. So — obviously — now’s a great time for you to make a donation on your own page as well as to press friends and family to make a donation (You don’t have to tell them that they’re increasing your chances of winning a bike when they do). And if you aren’t a member of Team Fatty, now’s a great time for you to join and start raising money to fight cancer and win cool stuff for yourself.

By the way: the winner will get the frameset when the framesets are available — most likely in March. Also, if you win and live outside the US, we’ll still cover shipping, but you’re responsible for paying customs. Cool? Yeah, I thought so.

How Can You Join Team Fatty?

First off, you should know that Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan, is currently the top fundraising team in all four LiveStrong Challenge event cities. Our team is 332 strong, and has raised $70,000 so far. But we want to be the first team in the history of the challenge to raise $1,000,000 — and to do that, we need your help.

Luckily, it’s really, really easy to join Team Fatty. First, you’ve got to decide which event you want to be part of: Austin, San Jose, Seattle, or Philadelphia. If you’re just planning on fundraising — not attending an event — then pick whichever city you most closely identify with. Then, just follow these steps:

  1. Click one of the below links to go to the Team Fatty page for that city:

  2. Click the “Join Our Team” link.
  3. Fill out the form. Note that the $50 registration fee is the same, whether you do one of the rides, the run/walk, or join the virtual challenge.
  4. Start fundraising. You’ve got to raise a minimum of $250 to attend the event of your choice.

Good Luck

This is an incredibly exciting raffle for me. I love the idea of being able to give away my dream mountain bike. I mean that seriously; there is no other mountain bike in the world I am more excited about than this one. And I love being able to give away a signed Lance Armstrong poster right as Armstrong is getting ready for his first big comeback event.

And most importantly, I love that we’re all doing this for one of the most important, unifying causes there is — fighting cancer.

Whether you win something or not, you’re still doing something really great for a cause that affects every one of us.

Thanks, and good luck!

Steady Now

01.13.2009 | 7:31 am

Something I never knew (until Susan found out the hard way) about chemotherapy and radiation is what they can do to your fingers.

Your hands get numb and tingly, as if they’ve fallen asleep, which is pretty close to what’s going on — but much more persistent.

Also, you can get a persistent tremor to your hands, making easy things like writing and typing really hard.

It’s called “peripheral neuropathy,” and for months it’s been one of the cruellest side effects Susan’s had to deal with.

If you knew Susan, you’d understand what I mean. You see, Susan has always loved making things with her hands. She was a scholarship art student in college. She has written dozens of articles for scrapbooking magazines on paper piecing techniques.

And for the past few years she’s been making jewelry. Beautiful stuff, with an emphasis on silver wire twisted into incredible links and patterns.

And of course, the neuropathy robbed her of all of that.

She’s Back

Here’s the cool thing, though: a few days ago, Susan’s hands steadied. They don’t shake anymore. They do what she wants them to again.

Of course, I have to keep telling myself that this doesn’t really mean anything in terms of the cancer: it doesn’t mean she’s getting better, just that she’s not being plagued by the side effects of a medication she stopped taking months ago.

But: it does mean she ought to be able to start use her hands again, the way she loves to — and is so good at.

And when good news doesn’t come your way often, even a little tactical win like this feels like a big deal.

Win a Susan Nelson Original (Hopefully)

And so of course I’m going to put Susan to work for me. I’ve asked her if she’d be willing to let me raffle off a couple bracelets or necklaces, with a cycling theme — kind of like this lady’s bracelet she made from a bike chain for a contest winner way back when the blog was young:


Susan says she’d like to, but that she first wants to make sure her she’s up to making jewelry.

So, for now, this is just a piece of good news. Soon, though, I’m confident this’ll be a chance for you to fight cancer and win some of Susan’s work.

Meanwhile, You Definitely Should Tune In Tomorrow

By the way, tomorrow (Wednesday) I’m announcing the latest Team Fatty raffle. And this one’s a big one, for something you cannot get anywhere else. I think you’re going to want in.

An Open Letter to Bryan Smith, Director of the Garmin-Chipotle Argyle Club

01.12.2009 | 1:29 am

Dear Mr. Smith,

I have recently become aware of Team Garmin-Chipotle’s intriguing Argyle Club, wherein for the low, low cost of $995 I can get all of the following:

  • Team kit, a t-shirt, and a baseball hat
  • Tickets to the team launch
  • Some sponsor tchotchkes
  • Shop employee-level discounts on a pair of shoes and some bike clothes
  • Not-quite-as-good-as-shop-employee-level discounts on a bike, a helmet, and glasses
  • Super-secret insider race tactics straight from Jon Vaughters
  • All the Chipotle burritos I can eat for a (freakin’) year!

Now Bryan (can I call you Bryan? Great!), I think you’re on to something here, but as the most awesomely popular Sports Blogger in the Whole World, I think you need to make a few changes if you ever want to get anyone to sign up. For your convenience, I have numbered my ideas, although this numbering scheme should not be interpreted as a ranking of importance, nor of an order of implementation.

Because they’re all really important, and they should all be implemented right now.

#1: Rethink that Chipotle Offer

First, let’s address the main reason I will not join the Argyle Club: the fact that I would have access to a free Chipotle burrito every day for a year.

Why don’t I want this benefit? Because I would use it. Every day. For a year.

You see, my office happens to be one block from a Chipotle, and I love the place (Chipotle, not my office). So it would be no problem for me to go there for lunch every day. Which means the following would happen:

  1. Financial Problems for You: Before June ended, I would have eaten more than $1000 worth of burritos. If the “free” includes the guacamole upgrade, I’d have eaten $1000 worth before the end of May.
  2. Weight Gain Problems for Me: Since Chipotle burritos — the way I like them — come out to be just under 1400 calories with 60 grams of fat, I’d almost certainly gain 208 pounds by the end of the year, which would mean I’d have to buy all new clothes at best, and would probably spend some time in the hospital at worst. Either way, I’d be coming to you to reimburse me for these expenses, since I clearly should not be held responsible for my own actions.

To tell the truth, though, I find myself considering buying three of these club memberships for the family (I’m the only one in the family who can eat an entire Chipotle burrito, and even then I’m just doing it to show off). That $3000 up front buys three burritos every day for a year, and three burritos is easily enough to feed everyone in my family for the entire day. Since my family’s food budget is currently around $1000 / month, this Argyle club membership could pay for itself by the end of Q1.

Perhaps you should consider marketing the Argyle Club that way.

#2: Add More High-Value Items to the Membership

Apart from the never-ending (never-ending for a year, I mean) fountain of burritos, Bryan, there’s not a lot in your Club Argyle membership kit that really grabs me. Apart from the team kit, it’s mostly just discounts.

That’s an expensive coupon book, Bryan.

What you need is more free stuff. I have some suggestions:

A free tattoo: Cyclists love to show their dedication to the sport, their teams, and their favorite consumer products with tattoos. And since anyone joining the Argyle Club is clearly sold on team Garmin-Chipotle, you should give them a coupon for a free argyle tattoo.

I happen to know that my friend Kenny is still on the hunt for a good tattoo; maybe this would fill the bill. Here’s what I’ve got in mind:


Admit it: this is the most awesome tattoo idea ever.

And if your team ever disbands or if you — heaven forbid — ever abandon the argyle conceit, this tattoo still gets Kenny about 80% of the way toward becoming either a superhero or professional wrestler.

An afternoon with Jonathan Vaughters as an image consultant200901112339.jpg : I have to admit that until he surfaced as the director/CEO of Garmin-Chipotle, my primary mental image of Jon Vaughters was of when he had to bail out of the TdF because he got stung in the eye by a wasp, his eye swelled shut, and the race officials wouldn’t let him have a cortisone shot so he could see again.

That just sucked.

If something like that happened to me, I am not certain that I would ever get over it.

Anyway, imagine my surprise to see that he’s gone from looking like he’s just gotten punched in the face to this:


There’s no other way to describe it, Bryan. Jon Vaughters looks dapper.

OK, there probably are other ways to describe it. For example, I could describe him as “looking like a member of Haircut 100.” I probably won’t, though.

But my point is that Jon’s got a look together, whereas every article of clothing I own I purchased either from Twin Six or REI.

No, that is not an exaggeration. Sure, I’m always comfortable, but I also always look like I’m going camping very soon.

If I could get an afternoon of Jon helping me buy clothes, refactoring my sideburns, and maybe working with me on some more urbane eyewear, I would get right in line for the Argyle Club.

A surprise drug test: While pro cyclists almost certainly consider it an intrusion into their lives to get an out-of-competition drug test, the rest of us dream about having somebody — anybody — care enough about our unremarkable race results enough to make us pee in a cup.

So, as a perk for the Argyle Club, how about having the Agency for Cycling Ethics show up at some random time and demand a complete blood workup. I promise that I will find a way to let all my friends know about the event, and will furthermore do my best to act miffed, as if it were an insult to my honor and dignity, rather than the most awesome thing that has ever happened to me.

#3: Rethink the “Race Day ‘Insider Info’ Thing

One of the benefits you offer to Argyle Club members is “exclusive info on team tactics and race day updates from Jonathan Vaughters.” Are you sure you want to do that? Well, OK, but I’m just going to say this once: you may want to look into the background info for all the people who buy the membership.

You know, just to make sure none of them are fronting for Johan Bruyneel.

#4: More Money-Making Opportunities

Bryan, the Argyle Club idea is great, but if you really want to make money with this idea, you need to have different levels of membership, with accompanying increased benefits. For example:

  • Argyle Club Basic: Everything you currently have in the membership, plus my helpful additions.
  • Argyle Club Bronze: Everything in Basic, but this time the race tactics info you get emailed are for real and can be used to win considerable sums of money at
  • Argyle Club Silver ($2500): Everything in Basic and Bronze, plus you get to ride in the Race Director’s car during one of the races.
  • Argyle Club Gold ($5000): Everything in Basic, Bronze, and Silver, plus you get to yell “Venga venga venga!” over and over, as much as you want, into the race radio.
  • Argyle Club Platinum ($25000): Everything in the above levels, plus you get the Guacamole upgrade in your daily Chipotle burrito, at no additional charge.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you, Bryan. I look forward to seeing them implemented, and look forward to the Platinum-level membership you are almost certain to offer me, no charge, as a sign of your gratitude for my efforts on your behalf.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

PS: Beast Mom, thanks for pointing me toward the Argyle Club.

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