Good Moments of a Hard Weekend

05.31.2009 | 5:09 pm

Some people like to be taken care of when they’re sick. Others want to be left alone when they’re sick. And I think that pretty much covers everyone.

I don’t think, for example, there is anyone out there who, when sick, really likes to take care of five other people, some of which are also sick, and some of which are teenage boys, which is worse than being sick.

And in short, I would have really enjoyed being someone besides me for the past couple days.

An Excellent Excuse

Looking back, I now understand that I’ve been sick since Friday. In fact, in my post from that day I mentioned my first symptoms: a sore throat. I just didn’t realize that the sore throat wasn’t from the race last Thursday; it was the beginning of the mother of all colds.

And the truth is, I’m excited at the prospect of using what I now realize was the onset of illness to explain the fact that on the group ride Friday afternoon, Jill easily kicked my butt.

Which is to say, the largish group of us were all riding together until after the Tibble Fork turnoff, which is where the road really turns uphill. Jill, in a display of cruel kindness, stayed with me as everyone else dropped me hard.

“Go,” I said, “Don’t let them get away.”

And she did. Jill bridged the gap nearly instantly. That woman has a serious motor.

At the time, I thought I couldn’t hang because I’m fat and out of shape. Now, of course, I realize the real reason I couldn’t hang is because I was getting sick.


[Note to Kenny: You owe me big time for not making this entire post be about why your shoulder in the below photo is bloody. But I'm not going to talk about it because your point about "I hate riding with bloggers" got to me.]


The Future

Saturday, I woke up miserable. Sore everywhere, eyes runny, nose snotty, unable to breathe. I just wanted to go into a cave and be alone. I’ll come out when I feel better. Honest.

But the twins had other plans. I had promised to work with them on riding their bikes.

How could I say no to that? Or more to the point: even though I was sick, I didn’t want to say no to that.

So we found an empty parking lot, and got to work. And I’m glad we did, because yesterday was the day when it all finally came together.

Here’s Carrie, making it look easy:


And leaning into the turns:


And here’s Katie, with exactly the expression I want to see:


Thinking about how in a few years we’ll be hitting the singletrack together, I forgot all about being sick for an hour.

Arts and Crafts

Susan doesn’t have much use for things nowadays. Out of everything she owns, the list of things she actually uses on a daily basis is pretty short:

  • Her powered easy chair
  • Her down comforter
  • Her Kindle
  • Her iPhone

The thing is, when she’s in bed it’s been hard for her to reach the Kindle and iPhone when they’re laying on the windowsill being charged.

And so, Saturday, I managed to break through my brain cloud and come up with an easier way for her to reach — and charge — those two things.



Yes, it’s a pair of nylon pouches that hang from the rail on her hospital-style bed. I made it by cutting down a Banjo Brothers Pocket Messenger Bag, using a torch to melt the nylon at the edges so it doesn’t fray, then stitching it and fastening it in place with about twenty zipties. The charging cables are ziptied in place, too, so they won’t fall to the floor when not in use.

It’s as functional as it is ugly. Which is to say: very.

Saturday Night

Cancer — or any other serious illness — can hurt you in two ways. The way everyone thinks about is by the damage it directly causes. But it can also hurt you through indirect damage — your body is designed to move, not be kept in one place and one position all the time. If you never get to move around, your body suffers in more ways than I would have expected.

And that indirect damage can be incredibly painful.

I don’t want to get into specifics, but starting Saturday afternoon, Susan started hurting pretty darned bad due to some of that indirect damage. By Saturday night, it had gotten unbearable. A nurse came out and helped improve things, and I headed north on a 20-mile drive to the nearest 24-hour pharmacy.

It was late at night. I was sick. My wife was suffering. I was in a dark place.

And then I found out that one of the kinds of medication Susan needs isn’t covered by our insurance.

Then at this pharmacy — the first time I’ve ever been to this particular pharmacy — the pharmacist asked for the patient’s name.

“Susan Nelson,” I said.

“Is that by any chance the ‘WIN Susan’ Susan Nelson?” he asked.

And of course it is.

He expressed his concern, wished us the best…and waived the cost of the non-covered pills.

I have lost count of how many times people — sometimes people we know, often people we don’t — have been kind and generous toward us, but I appreciate it every single time.

I’m still sick. And it’s been a very hard weekend. But there have been some good moments.


  1. Comment by Katie | 05.31.2009 | 5:16 pm

    Angels show up in the most unexpected places & just when we need them whether we recognize them or not. It reminds me I might be able to be one to someone if I am paying attention to someone besides me.

  2. Comment by Bandobras | 05.31.2009 | 5:44 pm

    Seeing the girls in those first moments of learning you can fly is absolutely wonderful.
    Knowing there are people who will help when they don’t have to is perhaps even better.
    Get well soon.

  3. Comment by Michelle | 05.31.2009 | 5:59 pm

    I hope that your cold abates soon. I had it last weekend for my 27.7 miles of nowhere – not comfy. As to the pharmacist…There are angels everywhere and it is so heartwarming to hear. Win Susan and Elden. Congrats to the girls on riding! Woo Hoo!

  4. Comment by becomingblue | 05.31.2009 | 6:05 pm

    Nice of Dug to let the girls borrow his bike.

  5. Comment by fatbikeracer | 05.31.2009 | 6:11 pm

    Man, this Jill chick IS big.

    Awesome post, you are in our prayers.

  6. Pingback by | The RocBike Review » News from Fatty | 05.31.2009 | 6:34 pm

    [...] sure to read this post from the Fat Cyclist all the way to the [...]

  7. Comment by kenny | 05.31.2009 | 6:54 pm

    You’re too kind. thx

  8. Comment by Susan | 05.31.2009 | 7:41 pm

    I know how hard it is to be sick when you’re so needed – just from being a mom. So I don’t really know how hard it is for you at this point in your life. Keep enjoying those little moments…they’ll keep you going. And aren’t zipties a handy little invention!

  9. Comment by Philly Jen | 05.31.2009 | 7:42 pm

    @ Awesome Anonymous Pharmacist (cuz’ I know you must be reading today): Thank you — it’s rare when a script has a Hollywood ending in real life.

    – WIN SUSAN –

  10. Comment by MikeonHisBike | 05.31.2009 | 8:04 pm

    That is awesome that the pharmacist helped out. People can be pretty darn good sometimes can’t they?

  11. Comment by chtrich | 05.31.2009 | 8:23 pm

    Keep on fighting!

  12. Comment by Jamieson | 05.31.2009 | 8:26 pm

    The smile that your children can bring you, and then, the kindness of strangers.

    I was at a local MTB race today, and I see a spectator with the 100Miles of Nowhere shirt, and a racer in a Fatty jersey. Both are going to Philadelphia for the ride.

    Your reach goes far beyond your imagination.

    It is great when you feel that distance sometimes.

    Win Susan!

  13. Comment by Miles Archer | 05.31.2009 | 8:43 pm

    Hang in there, dude. We’re all thinking of you and your family. Great pics or your girls.

  14. Comment by WheelDancer | 05.31.2009 | 8:49 pm

    Random acts of kindness do happen to good people and your pharmacy story is a class example of one. Sorry that things are so tough but your spirit is very inspiring and I’m sure helps Susan in ways she’ll never be able to tell you. I think this because it helps me in ways I don’t know how to express either. Keep up the good fight, you are not alone.

    WIN Susan, WIN Fatty & the kids!

  15. Comment by Born 4Lycra | 05.31.2009 | 9:16 pm

    Thanks Mr Chemist good kharma to you from Australia.
    I hope Susan is more comfortable and your cold is on the improve. Fabulous photos. Takes me back a few years to when my daughter was 5 we walked the bike up to the school netball courts and she rode it home about 30 minutes later. I have very similar photos with the very similar smiles.
    WIN Susan.

  16. Comment by jenjen | 05.31.2009 | 9:19 pm

    Elden -
    I hope you are feeling better. Good crafty moment – I like that charger pouch. Those are cute pictures of the twins.

    Please call me anytime. I would love to come help. I can watch the twins or take care of sick teenagers anytime.


  17. Comment by drKim | 05.31.2009 | 9:31 pm

    That’s an awesome story–even when it’s hard, you see the bright. And even when things look bleak, people with kind hearts show the best side of the human spirit. Your outreach touches many. in many ways.

  18. Comment by Myrnie | 05.31.2009 | 9:40 pm

    The pouch is beautiful- I highly approve :)

    HOORAY for kind people in this world- heaven knows you and Susan deserve some kindness.

  19. Comment by KanyonKris | 05.31.2009 | 10:42 pm

    I was riding with my youngest girl and boy today. Just goofing around at the school playground. I so enjoyed watching them ride. I think my boy will be an SSer.

    becomingblue – very funny dig, gave me a good laugh.

  20. Comment by Janet | 05.31.2009 | 11:43 pm

    Ok, I am really trying to hold back the tears so my hubby doesn’t think I’ve gone “Blog weird” again… Mr Pharmacy guy- you are amazing. Thanks for stepping out of the corporate rule book and being a stand up guy. You rock. And Fatty… I’m praying for you guys…

  21. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.31.2009 | 11:54 pm

    2:01, plus an extra – I can move my schedule up. WIN!

  22. Comment by bobbieh | 06.1.2009 | 12:15 am

    If you ever go back to that pharmacy, please give the gentleman a big hug from me!! What a wonderful thing for him to do ~
    Hugs to the both of you ~~

    WIN Susan!

  23. Comment by buckythedonkey | 06.1.2009 | 1:32 am

    That first picture of Carrie is almost identical to one I have of my youngest when I taught her to ride in a car park that was empty apart from a single car (an old Saab). Naturally, like a heat-seeking missile, she rode straight into it!

    Big hug to you from the four of us and a nod to the gentleman at the pharmacy.


  24. Comment by Mike Roadie | 06.1.2009 | 4:45 am

    Usually its the part about the pharmacy that makes me sick….this time I feel good. Make that great with the pics of the twins getting their first miles in! Oh, the joy of the future posts about how they whooped you going over Thus-and-such climb or went sub-9 at Leadville!!!!


  25. Comment by bikemike | 06.1.2009 | 5:04 am

    must’ve poked myself in the eye with a zip tie…it’s the only explanation for all the water pouring from my eyes.

    know what you mean about the cold, just finished 10 days with one.


  26. Comment by jeff | 06.1.2009 | 5:53 am

    Yay pharmacist guy!

  27. Comment by BillG | 06.1.2009 | 6:42 am

    Awesome Pharmacist!!!!

    Great times with the daughters also.

    Win Susan

  28. Comment by Big Boned | 06.1.2009 | 6:48 am

    Pharmacist dude – hearing about you gave everyone a lift today. Kudos!

    Clydesteve – Glad to see your mention of the 2:01 prayers for Susan. My watch alarm still sounds, but I didn’t know if anyone else out there in bloggerland was still participating.

  29. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 06.1.2009 | 7:07 am

    I would have to question the authenticity of any photo of Kenny that didn’t show some blood.

  30. Comment by MrTeamPhillips | 06.1.2009 | 7:22 am


    I’m pretty sure you have a good idea of how widespread your fame is – after all you are an award winning blogger. But it surprises a me a little how many people you have touched and how many people have reached out to help you – either directly or indirectly.

    Case in point – I competed in a 20 mile single-speed bike race in Newburgh NY on Sunday (Awesome job by Dark Horse Cycles for Single-speed-a-palooza). My wife went wearing her 100 MON shirt. That generated more discussion than any other topic (and got her recognized – The race director said “I know you from FatCyclist – of course no-one recognized me because I was replaced by the butt end of an Alpaca – but I digress).

    There were riders with FC jerseys also.

    The point is there’s a lot of people out there behind you. People like my wife & I who will probably never meet you, but have been drawn in to the FC universe in an attempt to help out. Thanks for letting us be a part of a long-term solution.

    WIN Susan.

  31. Comment by Linteater | 06.1.2009 | 7:36 am

    That’s an awesome bag. I hope you’re feeling better.

    And the pharmacist was awesome.

    You have so many supporters all over the world. On Saturday I was out for a training ride (Colorado) when another cyclist on the path yelled “Go Fatty” or something like that. I’m afraid I was kind of a jerk and only responded with a smile. In my defense, he caught me by surprise when I was 60 miles into my ride and hadn’t eaten breakfast. My brain doesn’t function that fast when I’m not cooked…so there was just no hope there.

    So if that rider is reading, sorry I suck!

    WIN Susan.

  32. Comment by PennyPue | 06.1.2009 | 8:14 am

    You truly live every moment to its fullest!

    1. Susan is a lucky man to be married to Go Go Gadget Nelson. (My heart melts every time you break out the zipties for her.)
    2. Your girls are adorable. How much fun is that…to get to take them out riding!!!
    3. Angels walk amongst us. How blessed are we to be able to be one on occasion. The best feeling is doing something for someone else. I feel badly for those who have never experienced it.
    4. Get better! You really should have called someone to make the Pharmacy run for you. You should be at home sucking down chicken soup but I bet you’re going out for a ride tonight anyway!

    Cincinnati is getting hot and humid. Can’t wait for my new Fatty sleeveless to arrive. Now when someone calls me a Fat*** I’ll just think they know you. :D Bwahahahaha

  33. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 06.1.2009 | 8:19 am

    WIN Susan. And my prayers for the whole family today.

  34. Comment by Lowrydr | 06.1.2009 | 8:42 am

    Insurance companies suck when they say “we won’t pay for that”, but give us your payment anyway cause you can’t do it without us. Boo Boo Boo :P

    Pharmacist guy, angel in disguise. Give yourself another pat on the back for me. Yay Yay Yay !!!

    The twins looked great in their ride photos. Of which these are just the begining I’m sure. But shouldn’t those seats be just a tad higher?

    If you need to you can sneek them up when they aren’t looking and they will never notice. Just do it a little at a time when they are asleep, it worked for my girls bikes.

    WIN Susan WIN !!!!

  35. Comment by BuzzLiteBoy | 06.1.2009 | 9:02 am

    It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it? I was moved by the photos of the girls, and that joyous smile I think we all feel, even now, many years later, making a corner, riding a bike. But my heart rose into my throat as I read the last part of your post and then became seriously choked up with the kindness of strangers!

    I think I scared the crap out a young woman this weekend, as she rode by in her pink Fat Cyclist jersey and I yelled. “GO FATTY!” I just hope she didn’t think I was talking about her!

  36. Comment by Kiwi | 06.1.2009 | 9:11 am

    Love photo’s of the girls…..fatty you give us alot
    by let us into your life! You need an angel or two
    each now and again!

    Win Susan!


  37. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 06.1.2009 | 9:17 am

    I think we should send the pharmacist a card. What pharmacy was it? (:o) I’m sure a few thousand thank you cards will let him know how appreciated the gesture is.

  38. Comment by Dan O | 06.1.2009 | 10:10 am

    I was just riding along in denver yesterday when I heard someone from the group I just passed say to another in the group..
    “did you see the back of that guys jersey?”
    The friend said “no why?”

    “becuase it says FATCYCLIST on the back!”

    I just smiled to myself, hoping they would look up your blog.


  39. Comment by Philly Jen | 06.1.2009 | 10:31 am

    P.S. Good to see Mr. Jones rockin’ a brain bucket…

  40. Comment by Amy | 06.1.2009 | 10:43 am

    Cancer effects so much more then the person with the disease the whole family has it too. I’m amazed at how much riding you have been able to do – you must have a pretty good support system to be able to slip away and have some non cancer time – I know it helps to take a break even though it never leaves your mind. I rode on a friends fundraising ride that he held for Parkinson’s recently and wore my fat cyclist jersey – lots of questions about it and the comment was your not fat why would you wear that.

  41. Comment by NW | 06.1.2009 | 10:59 am

    That pharmacist is rare and awesome! Hope you feel better Fatty, nice gadget you made up, and WIN SUSAN!!!

  42. Comment by Fat Cathy | 06.1.2009 | 11:12 am

    I don’t think the zip tie bag is ugly at all. Very functional.


  43. Comment by anji | 06.1.2009 | 11:42 am

    The pharmacist’s act of kindness brought tears to my eyes!

    I second the motion to send him a thank-you card :)

  44. Comment by Kt | 06.1.2009 | 12:44 pm

    Wow, Mr Pharmacist, you are a hero.

    Sure, it might have seemed like small potatoes to you– but those are the kind of actions that resonate out there in the ehter, prompting further small acts of niceness.

    Besides– it wasn’t small potatoes to the Fatty family.

    Fatty, hope your cold gets better soon! Summer colds suck worse than winter colds, I think it has to do with all the sun outside.

    Susan, I hope you are feeling better, too!!! Keep smiling, we’re all out here for you. :)

  45. Comment by SkiMoab | 06.1.2009 | 1:25 pm

    Win Susan…

  46. Comment by anonymous | 06.1.2009 | 2:07 pm

    I would be willing to send him a thank you card….being a hospice nurse, I know the “I won’t pay for that medicine but you have to have it” routine the insurance plays. A $.99 card from each of your readers would be nowhere near the cost he waived for that medicine I am sure, but the thought behind it would be 10 X’s the cost of the med!

    Seriously, if you even had us send them to your house so he could remain “anonymous” and then you take them to him or mail them to him or someone volunteer to take them to him, we could get this thing going…..

  47. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 06.1.2009 | 2:23 pm

    Sorry that Susan is in more pain and I am very glad you ran into a nice pharmacist.

    Thanks for sharing the good moments. Your ability to capture those in your heart is a gift.

  48. Comment by Janel | 06.1.2009 | 3:06 pm

    It is hard to believe how much Katie and Carrie have grown. It is neat to see them starting to love what you love so much, biking!! A good family activity. Hugs to Susan for us and the children as well.

    Dad and Janel

  49. Comment by JB | 06.1.2009 | 3:16 pm

    If I lived in your area that would be the pharmacy I would now take all my business to. I like to do business with people make it their business to help other people or support local causes.
    Get well Fatty

  50. Comment by Kris | 06.1.2009 | 3:31 pm

    Funny comment by ‘becomingblue’ on the girls riding Dug’s bike…LOL.
    One of my favorite bands, Switchfoot, has a song with the lyric, ‘The shadow proves the sunshine.’ Small lights become much brighter when we are in the dark.
    Don’t know you at all…but will be praying for Susan and be praying for your whole family to be able to keep seeing these small points of light!

  51. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 06.1.2009 | 4:40 pm

    Get well soon Fatty.
    It is no longer a surprise to find out how kind people can be when I see so much here at FC. However it is still wonderful to hear of little acts of kindness like anonymous Pharmacist.

    do zip ties have no limits to their function?

  52. Comment by Undomestic | 06.1.2009 | 6:38 pm

    You are a wonderful father and husband. You remind me of my husband as I go through this cancer as well.

  53. Comment by Lizzy | 06.1.2009 | 6:40 pm

    You’re a good man, Fatty. (and go buy a Neti Pot. seriously.)

    Win, Susan!

  54. Comment by BamaJim | 06.1.2009 | 7:23 pm

    Congrats to the girls, looks like they’ve got the hang of it. They’re probably smarter than my two kids – whose next step was to eat some pavement showing off their new skills.

    As for the rest – you remain in our prayers.

    Win Susan!

  55. Comment by Louie | 06.1.2009 | 8:40 pm

    i never stop being amazed at the kindness of the human spirit.
    thanks for posting this, things of this nature are so refreshing to the soul.

  56. Comment by Tim E | 06.1.2009 | 9:48 pm

    Thank you, Mr. Mystery Pharmacist. And thank you, Fatty, for sharing the bright moments of a difficult weekend. The Nelsons are in our thoughts.

    WIN Susan!

  57. Comment by Fremont Mike | 06.1.2009 | 10:35 pm

    Your blog always seems to bring out the best in people. I hope you are able to come out to San Jose and ride with us for the cancer ride.
    God bless you and your family!
    mike in fremont

  58. Comment by Jill | 06.1.2009 | 10:47 pm

    Sorry to hear you had such a tough weekend. I hope you’re feeling better. Thanks for the great ride, and again for showing how kindness spreads itself out.

  59. Comment by Jennifer | 06.1.2009 | 10:50 pm

    Sheepskin (the super-fluffy lamb ones) laid on top of the sheets can really help with one kind of those secondary problems one gets from being stuck un-moving in one spot. Pressure-redistribution and air circulation… better with real lambskin than the fake fleece stuff, but if Susan can’t tolerate wool on her skin try the fake stuff.

    Three cheers for the pharmacist!

  60. Comment by Chris in MD | 06.2.2009 | 8:29 am

    I bet if anyone else goes to that pharmacy, no one there has any idea who your good samaritan pharmacist is. “Never had anyone like that here…”
    You are being watched out for my friend.
    Win Susan.

  61. Comment by Laura G | 06.2.2009 | 9:25 am

    WIN Susan!

    Thank you for writing your blog. Your experiences of living with grace, humor, and love with your family and Susan’s illness are inspirational.

  62. Comment by Annie | 06.2.2009 | 10:24 am

    I was not expecting the pharmacy story to be a good one. Wow. Sometimes people just blow you away.

    I’m so glad your lives have been touched by so many good people.

    Win Susan!

  63. Comment by Christina | 06.2.2009 | 9:52 pm

    Visiting from PW…as I was reading your post I was thinking how much I hate cancer (never affected personally as far as family but have seen lots of other families devastated). I have written the tiniest smidgeon about it, but anyway. I was thinking as I read that I hate it, and how it is such a destroyer.
    However, when I got to the end of your post I was struck by the thought that as terrible as it is (and Lord, I can’t wait for this disease to be gone for good) it can bring out the best in some people. Thank you for sharing your life and that story.

  64. Comment by m Burdge | 06.2.2009 | 11:37 pm

    That Pharmacist truly did a nice thing for you. However, my mind races ahead to all of the anonymous folk without a blog following needing equally expensive medicine, equally un-covered.
    Take the small mercies, and think of those who can’t…because at times the small mercies are all you have
    WIN Susan

  65. Comment by brenda bowens | 06.3.2009 | 9:13 pm

    I take care of a son who’s severly disabled and to read this gave me a little lift. Especially when I’m having a hard time getting his medical supplies for May and June. Your blog always makes my day better. Stay strong, your family is amazing.


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