Unlucky 13

08.2.2009 | 8:30 pm

200908022119.jpg A Note from Fatty: Be sure to check in tomorrow, when I will be launching the contest where you can fight cancer and win the Orbea Orca / Diva with the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build. This bike is a work of art (click the thumbnail to the right for a larger view of the bike). Very fast, light, responsive, and technically-advanced art. Rideable art that retails for $9600. That your riding friends will be jealous of forever and ever, and rightly so.

So, like I said: Check back tomorrow. And bring your wallet.

Another Note from Fatty: Team Fatty members (all cities), you’ll be able to work toward winning this bike by getting people to donate to your LiveStrong Challenge page. So start bugging your friends and family now and tell them to start donating right now. All donations made to your account starting last Friday count toward your chances of winning this bike.

Annual Tradition

For each of the past twelve years, I’ve signed up for the Leadville 100. I’ve started all twelve times, and I’ve finished all twelve times (stories here, here, and here, just for example). I’ve been as fast as 9:13, and as slow as 11:40. This race is one of my very favorite annual traditions. If, for instance, I had to give up my birthday and Father’s Day to go to Leadville, it would be a very easy trade. I’d throw in Halloween and Thanksgiving, too. And Arbor day.

But here’s a little surprise I wasn’t planning to reveal until after this year’s race: I’m currently in very good shape. I weigh about 161 pounds and am currently riding with the fast guys in my group. Last Saturday as we rode together, Kenny said I was climbing stronger than I ever have before.

The weight loss has been easy this year: my interest in food is way down. Evidently, I’m only a stress eater up to a certain level of stress. Past that, I start to forget about food.

And the “fast” part has come easily this year, too. My two hours on a bike every day has become more than a fun way to exercise and be with my friends; it’s become a pressure release valve. I’ve been riding angry, to good effect.

My descending skills have improved dramatically over the past season, too. In a race that includes several multiple-mile descents, that could buy me several important minutes.

Add in an extremely light and responsive bike — my Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeed — and I’ve got myself a recipe for a fast Leadville 100. Certainly not in under nine hours, but quite possibly under 9:30. And on a singlespeed, that’s not half bad.

But I just don’t see how I can go.

The Math

I’ve always made a four-day trip out of the Leadville 100. Leave Utah (or Washington for a couple years) on Thursday, hang out in Leadville on Friday, race on Saturday, come home on Sunday.

Theoretically, I could shorten this to an extremely tightly-scheduled (and exhausting) Friday-Saturday trip. But the fact is, the annual Leadville 100 trip stopped being mostly about the race a long time ago — I’d say about 70% of why I like to be there is to catch up with old friends and spend a couple days wandering around the town being a bike bum.

And there is just no possible way I can leave Susan for four days — or even two days — right now. The truth is, last Saturday I had a difficult time leaving her for six hours. Sometimes she needs me — and only me. And sometimes I just need to be with her. True, she spends about 20-22 hours of most days sleeping now, but when she wakes up, she calls for me. And I need to be there.


I guess it says how much I love this race, though, that in spite of the realities of my situation, I still play through the possible scenarios, trying to find the path that lets me go to Leadville without feeling like a total heel.

In my heart I know there’s no such path. But my head’s still looking for it.

And I guess that at least a piece of me thinks I can still go, because when friends ask whether I’m going to Leadville, I say, “I’m at about 10-90 right now.”

But that 10% chance — which is in all honesty more like a 3% chance — is enough for me to keep training like I’m all in.

I know: it’s just a race, and it’s not as important as taking care of Susan and my family right now.

Still: when you’ve done something every single year for a dozen years, missing it for the first time isn’t easy.


  1. Comment by ann | 08.3.2009 | 10:19 am

    I hope you will find yourself in the right place at the right time, and be totally OK with it – wherever IT is. Prayers all around.

  2. Comment by Lisa B in Seattle | 08.3.2009 | 10:24 am

    You’ll do what’s best – you always do!

  3. Comment by Flying Ute | 08.3.2009 | 10:26 am

    Tough call. Good luck with it.

    But if you are riding at your best I believe a sub 9 hour Leadville is in order. You know you can do it and that is why you are saying 9:30 so the temptation won’t be that great.

    If you do end up going then you have got to drop the hammer and go for it.

    Plus, there is the Baker/Nelson showdown to consider.

    Good Luck either way. You will be missed in both directions.

    I’m pretty sure Louis Baker isn’t racing this year, either. – FC

  4. Comment by GenghisKhan | 08.3.2009 | 10:28 am

    Agreed with Ann. Perhaps you need to organize (or draft someone to organize) an Alpineville 100. There’s gotta be some choice 100 miles of Utah single track that can fill the void of missing Leadville. Just sayin’…

  5. Comment by gail | 08.3.2009 | 10:32 am

    You’re in a hard place. The race isn’t just a race, it sounds like it’s a symbol of a whole life, the way life used to be. You know that way of life is changing for you, skidding out from under your feet, so it makes sense you want to hold onto every part of ‘normal’ that you can. I wish you peace with whatever choice you make.

    You just expressed what I’m feeling perfectly. Thank you. – FC

  6. Comment by Angie G | 08.3.2009 | 10:34 am

    As you said, its not about the race, it’s the stuff in the middle that makes you keep coming back. That stuff will always be there. I imagine this is also what makes the Lance’s and the Brett Favre’s want to continue as well.

    Choices like these are hard, but very worth it. Maybe you could get some of your friends together and have your own Leadville that day. And use it as a celebration of having Susan, of your hard work and giant quads and of spending time with your amazing friends doing what you love.

    Continue to be strong and know we are always thinking about you all!!

  7. Comment by KanyonKris | 08.3.2009 | 10:35 am

    I work at a top secret (oops!) military lab where we have a prototype machine that can suspend time for up to 4 days. We have an opening for a test subject on August 15 – interested?

    I feel your angst and wish the time machine existed.

  8. Comment by jk | 08.3.2009 | 10:40 am

    What would Susan want you to do?

    Susan went out of her way to say that she wanted me to do this race and had planned with me on how others could take care of her while I was gone. But she didn’t foresee this circumstance. – FC

  9. Comment by Steph Bachman | 08.3.2009 | 10:45 am

    Wow, all of the previous posters left far better advice than I had. So, I’m just sending some hugs.

  10. Comment by Marc | 08.3.2009 | 10:46 am

    WOW! That is a tough call indeed!

    If something were to happen during your absence you probably would have a lot of trouble forgiving yourself!

    As hard as this is to say…..You have the luxury of time that Susan does not!

    Bonne chance!


  11. Comment by cheapie | 08.3.2009 | 10:47 am

    forget the race. i also have a race that’s i never miss (the iceman cometh) but wouldn’t even think about doing it in your situation.

    sucks but let’s just add missing awesome races to the list of reasons that we want to kick cancer’s a$$

  12. Comment by rexinsea | 08.3.2009 | 10:47 am

    jk posses a great question but it sounds like you should ask the question from the perspective of Susan today rather than Susan of last year. Whatever your choice, do your best to give it 100% effort during that weekend. Sometimes I make the mistake of not giving my choice 100% once I make it.

    Best of luck! Still thinking about you and your family.

  13. Comment by BikecopVT | 08.3.2009 | 10:50 am

    Hear that sound…it’s me kicking myself for the $345 in donations that went into my account last Thursday. Why oh why couldn’t it have posted on Friday. Ok I’m better now. Who else can I beg?

    As far as Leadville I agree with the previous posts.

    Win Susan!!

  14. Comment by b_banks | 08.3.2009 | 10:51 am

    Dude, you are quality top to bottom. A class act. we’ve only been on a few rides together but I’ve always admired how you’ve handled the situation you find yourself in. Best wishes, prayers and respect coming your way……………

  15. Comment by MikeonHisBike | 08.3.2009 | 10:58 am

    Sometimes it stinks to be a responsible adult. I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.

  16. Comment by Leslie | 08.3.2009 | 11:02 am

    Tough stuff just keeps getting tougher…I feel for you, and it’s certainly not wrong to want to be able to go. Sometimes when I’m torn–or even when I know what’s right–I flip a coin. That one instant where you see the outcome tells you how you feel–before your rationalize away how dumb it is that you’re flipping a coin. But that one tiny moment where you think, “Great,” or “Darn,” tells you what’s in your heart. Silly, yes, but it usually works for me.

  17. Comment by Jim | 08.3.2009 | 11:05 am

    There’s only one solution. Let’s take up a collection, fly me in from D.C., and I’ll ride as “Elden Nelson.” In addition to being plenty large and cantankerous enough to kick Baker’s butt if I see him, I will probably take 14 hours to complete it. Since I’ll be riding for more than twice as long as Wiens, it means that I will experience nearly twice as much enjoyment as Wiens – enough for you, for me, and with maybe 15 minutes of fun left over for that Baker dude.

  18. Comment by Jim | 08.3.2009 | 11:08 am

    Ps. I know you buried the hatchet with Baker. I’d totally respect the guy. But I’ll find somebody else to start an entertaining web feud with.

  19. Comment by Andy R. | 08.3.2009 | 11:37 am


    I know you already know this but I’m going to say it anyway. The Leadville 100 will wait another year- and I’m pretty sure that’s what you’ve already decided. Your climb is at home, and it is a big one.

    The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running(or riding, as the case may be). You are in a different kind of race now. One pedal stroke at a time- push the bike through the top of the stroke if need be. Walk if you must. But don’t stop. Susan needs you at home. And you need to be home.

    Leadville will be there next year, and you’ll still be capable of crushing the climbs.


  20. Comment by ms ellie | 08.3.2009 | 11:45 am

    A year goes by so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was reading about your 08 trip.
    You will do the right thing. Believe it.

  21. Comment by jenjen | 08.3.2009 | 11:46 am

    Thinking of you. Call me anytime – I would love to stay with Susan while you get out for a ride.


  22. Comment by Stephanie | 08.3.2009 | 11:48 am

    Either choice you make, we’ll all be yelling HUZZAH!.

    (I still crack up at your explanation of how you yelled this zipping past aid stations and bystanders).

    Sending good thoughts and lots of prayers…..HUZZAH!

  23. Comment by Kelly | 08.3.2009 | 11:48 am

    Leadville is your normal. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it is the unlucky 13th year you will have to abstain. I mean, it is totally possible that your bike would fall apart at the starting line and that’d be a mess wouldn’t it?

    Or lightening! Or freak snowstorm!

    See, it’s safer for you to stay home and to start planning for next year. When it’ll be year 1 again.

  24. Comment by Karin | 08.3.2009 | 11:54 am

    If you go and end up regretting it, for one reason or another, not only will this year’s Leadville be an unhappy memory, all future Leadvilles will be painful reminders.

    I’d stay with Susan and make it as special as you can; preserve Leadville’s lustre for you and let the year you missed be a fond memory of a special 4 days with your beloved.

    Win Susan!

  25. Comment by Jenn | 08.3.2009 | 11:54 am

    No good suggestions here; just my very best to you & Susan & the kids. Big big hugs.

  26. Comment by geraldatwork | 08.3.2009 | 11:57 am

    If anything happens to Susan while you are gone, something as simple as holding her hand when she needs it the most and you weren’t there for her you may regret it for the rest of your life. From reading your blog, in my heart I know you will make a decision you are comfortable with.

  27. Comment by Pat in Oak Ridge | 08.3.2009 | 11:58 am

    There is always next year. You need to stay home and spend the rest of Susan’s time with her. Stay strong.

  28. Comment by Hautacam | 08.3.2009 | 12:01 pm

    I can relate. I was in great running shape this spring and skipped two different half marathons due to important family commitments. Same kind of dilemma, albeit much, much smaller scale.

    It goes without saying that the rest of your family need you, not just Susan. You are their rock, and they need you to be right there, right now, in a way that they probably will never need you again. Three or four days without you could be long — agonizingly long — in the circumstances. As you obviously recognize, the choice is simple, albeit difficult. You must stay.

    Hotels lack a 13th floor. Your Leadville record will do the same. You will pick up with #14 next year. And when you do, I would guess that it will be more meaningful — and in different ways — than ever before.

    Why not take the “Alpine LoopVille 100″ idea to the next level, and celebrate the (non)event with an informal FatCyclist “Ride to Nowhere” type event on August 15? Everyone picks one local favorite climb/descent near home and does it as many times as possible, reporting back with distance, time, and elevation on August 16?

  29. Comment by Pedalpink | 08.3.2009 | 12:04 pm

    My guy has done an event 28 years in a row (since its first year). This Sunday will be his 29th. There’s both pride and pressure in keeping a streak like that going. As his partner, I want him to do it … and Susan has said she wants you to do Leadville. But as you said, no one foresaw the current circumstances. Maybe you can still keep the 3% chance of going alive until the last moment, and ask Susan (and your own heart) then.

    I had the Win Susan youtube video playing at my local club annual ride Saturday and collected donations for LIveStrong. Your family is in my thoughts daily.

  30. Comment by Weiland | 08.3.2009 | 12:15 pm

    Holy cow Fatty, 161 pounds! Way to go. Fatty just doesn’t have the same ring to it at 161 pounds. If you decide to forgo Leadville this year, your new goal should be keeping your form and fitness for the next time you line up for the start of Leadville.

    Good luck

  31. Comment by Philly Jen | 08.3.2009 | 12:17 pm

    I’ll echo Gail’s wise words. Leadville is not only at the core of the Before Time, it was also the seed of this very blog. You didn’t want to be un-fat because you were vain, but because you wanted and needed to get back in shape for Leadville.

    Without Leadville, do you honestly think you would have ever shared with the world what you were eating and exactly how much you weighed, day in and day out? (To say nothing of those “Before” and “After” photos?) As if.

    Extra junk in the trunk for RAWROD? Okay. A longer, slower, less aerodynamic bike commute? Fine. But dropping out of Leadville? Unthinkable. So here we are, all plentysix thousand of us.

    If there were no Leadville, there would be no fatcyclist.com. Which would be like Bedford Falls minus George Bailey. All of us who have become friends with and through you via your blog owe that to Leadville.

    And were it not for Leadville, most of us would never have had the privilege of knowing Susan. Imagine that.

    So, epithet-epithet yeah, it’s a Solomonic call whether or not to go.

    I simply hope that no matter what you decide, you can take some measure of comfort in knowing that you are unquestionably stronger now than ever before. And not just on the bike.


  32. Comment by Mike Roadie | 08.3.2009 | 12:27 pm

    ……or Philly without Jen!!!!

    Sub 9……….


    GTG…..I have a bike to win!!!!!!!!!

  33. Comment by Nick | 08.3.2009 | 12:34 pm

    “Hear that sound…it’s me kicking myself for the $345 in donations that went into my account last Thursday. Why oh why couldn’t it have posted on Friday. Ok I’m better now. Who else can I beg?”

    That’s the first thought I had when I saw Friday too. The $825 I received on Thursday won’t count! No big deal though. I’m just amazed that that many people donated that much.

    Elden, from reading your blog for the last year, it’s pretty apparent that you’ll do the right thing, whatever that is.

  34. Comment by Big Boned | 08.3.2009 | 12:35 pm

    Understand this is totally unsolicited advice from a guy you’ve never met, but has been hanging out here and talking with you for years.
    There is no substitute for being there. We all understand your dilema. I’ve got a long string at 24 Hours of Moab (flown back from assignments in Korea, Beligum and Bosnia for it), but if my wife needed me I’d never feel right turning the cranks and wondering – it’d drive me crazy.
    Leadville ain’t going no where, get #13 when you can do it worrying only about Columbine.

  35. Comment by Beth | 08.3.2009 | 12:36 pm

    Ugh; no easy answer or solution….

    Thinking of you and your family; day at a time friend….

  36. Comment by TimRides | 08.3.2009 | 12:38 pm

    Everyone else said it better than I can. Whatever you do will be the right thing.

    I do like the idea of the “Ride Uphill to Nowhere”.

    WIN Susan!

  37. Comment by Rob M. | 08.3.2009 | 12:43 pm

    There are great comments above.

    You have a tough choice. Cancer always seems to bring tough choices, especially when the choices deal with emotions and when you’re already stretched pretty thin.

    My best advice is not whether you go, or not, but that you make your decision and you don’t look back with regrets.

  38. Comment by Ryan | 08.3.2009 | 12:46 pm

    Fatty… You’ve been an example of what the best husband/father SHOULD be when the love of their life hits hard times, and I know that this scenario with Leadville will just solidify your hero-status among all cyclists and all people, because of your obvious love for Leadville and your eternal love for Susan.
    When you return to Leadville after taking your break to be with your wife and family at this tenuous time, I bet you will then experience the event on an even deeper level, with the motivation and support of everyone on both sides of the veil.
    …..And thank you for being an inspiration to me for how I want to feel about my future wife.

  39. Comment by Rob | 08.3.2009 | 12:52 pm

    Hey Fatty, just recently stumbled across your site and have spent a few happy/sad hours getting to know you……..
    First of all let me say how inspired I am by the way you’ve faced into your current situation!!

    The love you describe for Susan and your family is way cool!

    Your ability to still function and hold it together for both Susan and your family is even cooler!!

    What I’m trying to say is that over the past years you’ve probably had to make some pretty tough choices and decisions and will probably have more to make in the future!!

    From what I know of you so far, it looks like you’ve made some pretty good decisions when the chips are down!!

    Decisions I’m not sure I could have made!

    Good luck and no regrets, whatever you choose will be the right decision.

  40. Comment by Derek | 08.3.2009 | 12:53 pm

    Tough spot, for sure. But when it boils down to it, it’s pretty clear what you have to do. It seems you know this.

    In 10 years, it won’t matter that you didn’t do Leadville 2009. But in 10 years, how much will you be willing to give up to have had just a few more minutes with a possibly lucid Susan? I think you’d happily throw in every Leadville from here until you die, as well as a few Arbor Days to boot.

    Best wishes.

  41. Comment by Pink | 08.3.2009 | 1:11 pm

    Surely you have not come this far and worked this hard to protect your wife and children and then leave them?

  42. Comment by erin | 08.3.2009 | 1:20 pm

    i agree with what most have already said. it is a tough decision, but you will find yourself exactly where you need to be. trust in that.

    i wanted to chime in as well on the “ride uphill to nowhere” idea. i’m not a mountain biker, and i absolutely hate hills of any kind. but if it were helpful in any way, i’d torture myself with a ride up some massive hill here in san diego on the 15th…maybe i’ll do it anyway. just because.


  43. Comment by Lofgrans | 08.3.2009 | 1:22 pm

    Just ask someone whose actually going to Leadville (cause we all know you’re not)to wear your helmet cam.

  44. Comment by Myrnie | 08.3.2009 | 1:23 pm

    In a TOTALLY different spot than you, but as a mom I can understand what you’re saying. There are a thousand things I’d love to do for myself, and it’s hard to say “I can’t do that.” I love what I do for my family, and I’m happy to be here doing it…but I keep looking to the next day wondering if it will be the one where I get to do stuff for me. It’s not even the “stuff” that’s important, it’s just knowing every day that I’ve made the decision to be here for my kids pretty much 24 hours a day.

    I always appreciate your candid posts. Life IS tough, and to deny that is just wrong! Doesn’t make us any less to admit that we’d rather be doing something else. Best wishes for your family!

  45. Comment by Mike | 08.3.2009 | 1:24 pm

    Here’s my undiluted opinion, for what it’s worth:

    Leadville will be there next year.

    I’ve read enough of your Leadville race reports in that past four years (all of them, I believe) to know that you’re more excited about spending two or three good hours with your wife than you are to ride your brains out for nine and a half hours in Colorado. So spend the two or three good hours.

    Besides, what would happen if you broke a chain and spent 12 hours (a new low) out there instead? You’d be kicking yourself for going, even if Susan was okay while you were gone.

    One idea, though: If you want a chance to use up this fitness, wait until September and do the Park City Point-to-Point ( http://thepcpp.com/race/the-course/ ). It’s an hour drive (at most) from your house, it looks freakin’ awesome, it’d probably take you eight hours or less, and you could probably talk some non-LOTOJA-riding friends into doing it with you.

    I, of course, don’t have the fitness, so I won’t see you there. Unless you say please. Nicely.

    Best of luck, Elden.

  46. Comment by becky | 08.3.2009 | 1:26 pm

    When my Mom was sick, running was the ONLY way I could cope. I am NOBODY to be giving you advice . Less than nobody. But would Susan want you to do it? How about the kids? Will they respect you more for having a passion for something and an ideal to live up to?

  47. Comment by mtnbkr | 08.3.2009 | 1:28 pm

    I agree with Gail – it’s the symbol of what life should be. Don’t let go of that 3%.

    BTW – By LAST Friday, I know you mean last Friday 7.24.09, cause last week I dumped $1214 into my account… before Friday.

    Oh well, it’s not about the bike, right?… Except when it’s a Orbea.

  48. Comment by Mike | 08.3.2009 | 1:32 pm

    Whoops. I just realized how NOT lucid that comment was.

    Edit: I’ve read enough of your Leadville race reports in THE past four years (all of them, I believe) to know that you’re more excited about spending two or three good hours with your wife than you are RIDING your brains out for nine and a half hours in Colorado.

  49. Comment by RyanT | 08.3.2009 | 1:49 pm

    I’ve tried to get into Leadville a number of times but never made it. If you want to do a local alternate I am in.

    Thoughts and Prayers going out to the Nelson Family

    Ryan T.

  50. Comment by bubbaseadog | 08.3.2009 | 1:53 pm

    lance missed three years on the tour look how well he did for just a short time back. leadville can wait susan cant. stay with your family and love the one you love most in the world ….youll never regret it…..win susan

  51. Comment by Punk Rebel Mama | 08.3.2009 | 2:11 pm

    Here’s the thing….
    Leadville comes along every year…without an expiration date.
    Susan has an expiration date.

  52. Comment by annainaspen | 08.3.2009 | 2:22 pm

    Hey Elden,

    Can you fly into and out of Aspen? It’s not a very long drive from Leadville to here over independence pass. If you have a friend that can pick you up and drop you off you could save a lot of time.

    If you can’t make it there is always next year.

  53. Comment by hoon | 08.3.2009 | 2:43 pm

    not sure if my last post actually posted… comp problems… gotta go with your gut man. on side note, i’m sending you some pics from the Pan Mass Challenge. Our team (3 of us) chose team fatty for this year’s Day 2 jerseys in honor of Susan and you. our thoughts are with you.

  54. Comment by Susie | 08.3.2009 | 2:43 pm

    this makes me want to cry almost more than anything else you’ve written about lately. it defines the reality of your situation, truly.

    the choice is obvious, but heartbreaking in so many ways…

  55. Comment by Onan the Barbarian | 08.3.2009 | 2:50 pm

    “Surely you have not come this far and worked this hard to protect your wife and children and then leave them?”

    When my father was in hospice with inoperable brain cancer, he lived WAY longer than he was “supposed” to live. We canceled a trip to Europe, gave up weekends and weekdays to take care of him. It came to a point where we just needed a break, so my family (my mom and brother) went to Vancouver for a vacation. I think my dad was just looking for a sign that it was OK for him to go. He passed away while we were in Vancouver and to this day, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. He was finally at peace.

    We chose to go to Vancouver for our own sanity and to show him it was OK for him to go.

    Take that for what it is.

    Win. Fight. Ride.

  56. Comment by MattC | 08.3.2009 | 3:31 pm

    Many have said it, but Andy R NAILED it imo…(up near the top of the comments)…nothing I could possibly add to that….but I’ll toss in my extra thoughts in anyway…Susan is top priority, bar none, and you obviously already know it. You ARE da’ MAN and WE ALL already know it. Kudo’s to ya’…YOU are the man I strive to be like. If the scenario changes and Leadville comes back into play, then it does…and it’s meant to be. If not, big-whoop. It’ll be there next year, as will all your friends (who certainly will understand your absense).

    And as to MY Orca that you are showing everybody else…what can I say except how sweet it will be! (I really need a new road bike btw…put a huge dent in my cannondale top-tube just before the San Jose LiveStrong…it’s only a matter of time before the frame folds on me in a bad way…so I REALLY NEED this bike. It would get me out of a heap of trouble with my wife on why I need a new frame/bike…I’m just sayin.)

  57. Comment by ann | 08.3.2009 | 3:32 pm

    May you be granted peace and serenity in this tumultous time

  58. Comment by Vickie | 08.3.2009 | 3:40 pm

    Leadville will be there next year, but those three or four hours with Susan will never be again. Like you I was the primary caretaker for my sister for two years. She had metastatic breast cancer and it was tough. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to be able to sit with my beloved sister as she went to be with the Lord. She knew I was there and held my hand and it was so right. You are in a tough place, but the Lord will give you strength. I’m praying for you.

  59. Comment by Jim S | 08.3.2009 | 4:13 pm

    You clearly know what your priorities are and are behaving accordingly…like the husband and father your wife and kids love. As hard as it is for me to say, “it’s just a bike race”.

  60. Comment by regina | 08.3.2009 | 4:35 pm

    ok so isn’t there some way we can run a fantasy leadville thing, ok clearly I do not really understand the concept fantasy football, or fantasy leagues, so I know my suggestion is ludicrous. But don’t worry, that mountain is just going stand there and wait for you Eldon.

  61. Comment by Parker | 08.3.2009 | 4:43 pm


    I used to ride. An injury has left me disabled and unable to do most of the things I used to do. Unable to do things that rejuvenated me; things that defined who I was.

    The hardest part is giving those things up and not allowing the “what if” scenario to take over. There will be other Leadville’s (as trite as that sounds). Be sure that you will be missed at the event, and everyone will be thinking about you, Susan, and your family.

    Hang in there man.

  62. Comment by Charisa | 08.3.2009 | 4:49 pm

    If Leadville is meant to be I think it will all just happen. If it doesn’t at least you have had fun training!

  63. Comment by ricky | 08.3.2009 | 4:58 pm

    oh boy – this is tough reading.
    came to your site from the LA twitter and have read much of the site over the last few evenings – think it’s the most honest thing i’ve ever read.
    feel for you and already know what i would do – think i know what you’ll do too.
    all the best for the future.

  64. Comment by Rose | 08.3.2009 | 5:10 pm

    Sure wish you could be cloned you so that you could do both! I know how disheartening it is not to be able to do something you love so much but you certainly have made the right call. WIN SUSAN!!

  65. Comment by Haven (used to be Kt) | 08.3.2009 | 5:14 pm

    Fatty (or Not So Fatty), this is a tough decision. Unfortunately, it’s one you have to come up with, despite all our advice.

    I agree with the people who say that Leadville will be there next year (unless it falls into the ocean– that’d be a good trick, eh?), but time with your family is fleeting and precious. Take what joys you can.

    Don’t play the “what if” game. You will only paralyze yourself with indecision. Do what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do.

    If that’s not going, well, we can all do a 100 mile Ride Uphill to Nowhere, even if some of us cheat and our hill is really quite un-steep. Or negative steep.

    If that’s going, well, we can all use our Team Fatty power to keep things on an even keel for you. You know we can do it, we’re more powerful than the Lazer Beams of Death.

    Hugs to Susan and the kids from yer pals here in the PNW…

  66. Comment by Born 4Lycra | 08.3.2009 | 5:33 pm

    Loads of great advice above. Like others I am confident you know what you are going to do but I also reckon there is no problem with saying you are 10/90 about going. Right now it is Susan and family first, Leadville, friends and tradition second. Quite honestly if you went Leadville would not be the same this year anyway. When it comes down to it there is no choice to make.
    Win Susan – Livestrong – Love ya FC.

  67. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 08.3.2009 | 5:40 pm

    Talk about a rock and a hard place. I feel for you.

  68. Comment by Sarah | 08.3.2009 | 5:57 pm

    I know your struggle and question with this are mostly rhetorical….thinking out loud.

    And I want to thank you for being human and sharing this with us. This is the template of the struggles we all have on a daily basis, albeit yours is so much more heartbreaking and….tender.

    I feel you have already made your decision.

  69. Comment by Bruce Bebow | 08.3.2009 | 6:13 pm

    Time is the only thing we cannot regain or make more of.

  70. Comment by Angie G | 08.3.2009 | 6:14 pm

    Hey Fatty, Don’t listen to MattC sniveling about his dent in his top tube. I have seen said “dent” and said “MattC”. The guy weighs like 140lbs dripping wet.
    His bike will last a few more years with no possibility for structural failure. Trust me!!!

    Mike, your killing me man! That was low. The bike is mine! Don’t even try taking it away. :-) Hey maybe we can duke it out for more money for LAF. Nor Cal vs So Cal.:-) It works for wrestling!!

  71. Comment by Roni | 08.3.2009 | 6:33 pm

    Do it in your own home.

    Like the 100 Miles to nowhere. Find a video of the entire race or something, maybe even the route as a software for the virtual reality trainer.
    Prepare Chicken soup and all the crazy food you consume while riding. You can even go as far as putting a tent in the middle of you living room. AND take your daughters with you.

    I bet some of your friends will do it with you.

    Best wishes for you and your family,
    A (very very) loyal reader from Israel

  72. Comment by Don | 08.3.2009 | 6:47 pm

    You’re making the right decision. You would kick yourself if something happened to Susan while you were away and not be able to focus. You’ll have another 12 yrs to do it – for not, she needs you man!

  73. Comment by Doug Gage | 08.3.2009 | 7:09 pm

    If you went to Leadville do you think you could give 100% to the race? I think your mind would be on Susan and not on the race and what happens when your distracted on a trail? You crash and burn.

  74. Comment by Pat1236 | 08.3.2009 | 7:37 pm

    Good luck with your problem, it’s not an easy call but I feel certain that you will do the right thing, whatever it is. Bless you for being so faithful to Susan. It is a hard road to follow and I wish you well.

  75. Comment by John | 08.3.2009 | 7:50 pm

    Mate – ditch the race. There will be plenty more editions of Leadville. Being brutal, how many more episodes like those precious two hours will you and Susan have? You will remember those special moments long after you have forgotten what a bike looks like. You and your family are doing it tough and you are being tough. Just be tougher again and ride another race another time. Your big race is happening at home.

  76. Comment by jarocco | 08.3.2009 | 8:07 pm

    I am a rare commentator on your website but I have to put in my two cents. Stay home. From what I read last week from you about Susan, going away for 4 days doesn’t sound like a very good idea. And I know from what I’ve read in the past, you are a good dad and husband. Now, more than ever, you need to be there for them.

  77. Comment by kentucky joe | 08.3.2009 | 8:15 pm

    MEMO (NOT about Leadville)

    From the Offices of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe

    Pursuant to the matter of avoiding class action litigation against one “Fat” Cyclist, it has come to our attention the the “Fat” Cyclist has admitted to weighing a scant 161 lbs which amounts to falsificus nicknamicus and it is requested that this nickname be adjusted or otherwise edited to more accurately reflect the Svelte Cyclist. Please don’t force our hand here. Cease and desist use of this “Fat” adjective at your earliest convenience.


  78. Comment by Gomez | 08.3.2009 | 8:54 pm

    Perhaps you need to change your site to “The Phat Cyclist” now.

  79. Comment by co | 08.3.2009 | 9:35 pm

    Bucko – Leadville 100 will be there next year.

  80. Comment by Evie | 08.3.2009 | 10:03 pm

    Just dropped in to see how things were going…I always read with tears flowing down my cheeks…and then a smurk…you sound like the greatest guy with so much heart…you know you need to stay home this year but the dream keeps you going…don’t ever give up your dreams! Living them later is what will KEEP YOU GOING when things get hard in a whole different way and just think how fast you’ll be riding then! God bless you with all that is ahead! Enjoy all the hand holding you can get in right now…it will mean so much later :)
    Leadville 2010 look out!!!

  81. Comment by Anonymous | 08.3.2009 | 10:13 pm

    You’re not gonna want ro miss the next part if you can help it. At
    least for me, being present when someone lets go feels very much
    the same as a birth. I never expected that. But I was grateful to
    feel the peace enter where before there was so much sorrow and
    pain. It kept my heart beating and started my healing. It is a
    blessing if you can be there for Susan. It will also be a blessing
    for you, I believe. Hope I haven’t said too much. Hugs, prayers
    to you and yours.

  82. Comment by MVSC | 08.3.2009 | 10:22 pm

    Regardless if you do it or not, you realize your loyal readers are expecting a race report?
    And no matter how you ‘finish’, you’re a gold belt buckle winner in the Big Book of Righteous Eldens. Good luck, Fatty.

  83. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.3.2009 | 11:59 pm

    Elden –

    “Always do right. It will surprise some and astonish the rest.” – Mark Twain

    But I won’t be surprised. Best wishes & prayers

  84. Comment by Scoops | 08.4.2009 | 12:52 am

    with all of the good advice above, you may never get this far down the page, especially with the next post of the Orbea raffle already being up.

    So IMHO, please remember, you can not fix the whole world alone, its not for you to do so. You have seen the recent outflow of support and offers of assistance, so take the hands that are offered. Invoke the support around you and GO. There will always be the question what if I was there, however that is the same if you do not go. Remaining and

    Your family and friends understand what drives you, and that is what brought a community here. It was through the humor and biking that you kept your humanity shining and created from nothing, the incredible support for fighting this terrible, terrible disease.

    When you look back, what are you trying to show to your family? That as a person only you can perform these tasks, it may be giving you purpose, but it is not true. Or that it is more than a disease that defines a person, by working for their physical limits, you set an example At some point we all have to let others perform tasks we believe that only we can do. at even this hardest of times you must show that you do trust others, and that it is important to believe that burdens can be shared. They do know that you trust them with the most precious thing in your life and that you do not do so lightly.

    Disclaimer that the advice here is exactly equal to the price paid for it.

  85. Comment by Cycle Coaching | 08.4.2009 | 1:49 am

    Hey good luck in the extreme. A race report would be great. :-) You’ll do it!

  86. Comment by c3 | 08.4.2009 | 6:21 am

    Your heart wants to go not only because you’ve done it the last twelve years, but also because going would mean that things were ok. That things were normal. And that doing well at Leadville were the biggest challenge you had to face (beyond the usual challenges of raising kids).

    My heart wishes that were so right along with you.

  87. Comment by Michael | 08.4.2009 | 6:28 am

    I took care of my mother in her last year of life and in doing that missed out on a couple of choice rides. But looking back now I am proud to think I stopped and did what I needed too. It was as special to me afterwards as the race would have been even though on race day I didn’t do much around the house.
    I pray that your choice will become easier/clearer to make as the time draws nearer. Keep training!
    Prayer to you and your family! Win Susan!!!

  88. Comment by Jayson | 08.4.2009 | 8:32 am

    It’s probably best you do stay home. Lance doesn’t want the competition.

  89. Comment by tim | 08.4.2009 | 10:07 am

    nice one Jayson. Come on Elden, look at the way Lance sulked on the podium in Paris….give him a fair shot.


  90. Comment by marko | 08.4.2009 | 11:57 am

    If you go to Leadville, and something happens to Susan while you are gone, you will never be able to enjoy that race again, should you do it forty more years consecutively. It will be ruined for you forever.

    Stay home; be where you need to be. Leadville will be there for you next year.

  91. Comment by eine_Biene | 08.4.2009 | 12:29 pm

    Hey Fatty,

    first off: I’m a REAL fat cyclist, well I’m going to be, I’m just getting serious about cycling and was dissapointed there’s no fat cyclist shirts my size. ;-)
    AND: I’m in for the Ride to nowhere, I won’t go uphill much and I’ll make it 100 km instead of 100 miles and that will be something I never did before. And this ride will be in YOUR honor, just as Leadville would be about you.


  92. Comment by Linda | 08.4.2009 | 2:03 pm

    if I were Susan I would wish that you would go…but so thankful that you didn’t.

  93. Comment by Janet Lyn | 08.4.2009 | 3:13 pm

    Love has to make this decision…and it’s no contest.
    Leadville, the bike, riding will always be there. I know you know that. You’d be distracted this year anyway.
    Susan & family need you more now. You will never, ever regret the time you spent with her and what you did for love!
    I would give anything for even a little more time with the people I love who are no longer here.
    Praying for continued inner strength for you for this toughest ride of your life. Gotta finish the race set before you now. We’re all pulling for you and Susan!

  94. Comment by Tp | 08.4.2009 | 5:32 pm


    There is a time and season for everything. This season should be spent by your wife’s bedside.

    Kinda feeling funny about that however, since you’re the one who wrote my ticket to Leadville this year. We’ll miss you.

    Can I borrower your fitness for a few days?

  95. Comment by Mark W | 08.4.2009 | 5:36 pm

    A wise person once said:

    Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it. For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

    Hope this helps
    Mark in Vancouver.

  96. Comment by Wade | 08.4.2009 | 8:11 pm

    just out of curiosity, why would you do such a massive race on a singlespeed? I can’t think of any reason besides the fact that it’s a badge of honor to do this. Or is it something else?

    With gears or without, it sounds like an amazing race. Would love to try it one day. 100miles on a mtb falls into that “epic” category!

    Good luck

  97. Comment by Joanna | 08.4.2009 | 8:26 pm

    If you go you’ll feel awful thinking of Susan, the memories that were and the memories that will never be.

    If you stay you’ll feel awful thinking of the race, the memories that were, and the memories that won’t be.

    Either way, you’ll feel awful. Accept the feeling.

    Choice made … listen to your heart.

  98. Comment by Mike | 08.4.2009 | 8:53 pm

    I recently lost my father to cancer and am still working through the loss. After reading your post I would encourage you to spend the time with Susan. I think you’ll not regret the decision and will find greater peace with yourself. I know I would.

  99. Comment by jean ray | 08.4.2009 | 11:51 pm

    I think you already know in your heart what you’re going to do, and where you most need to be. But I can understand how hard it is to miss something that you’ve done for the past 12 years. I’m also glad that through this horrible ordeal, you’ve been able to maintain your cycling; I think it has helped to sustain you. None of us are up to being a caregiver 24/7. Warmest thoughts with you and your family.

  100. Comment by Evil Cyclist | 08.5.2009 | 12:34 pm

    Many users feel you should spend the time with Susan. I understand their point of view. However, consider this: What would she want you to to? I can’t speak for her, I don’t know her, but you do.

    -Evil C.

  101. Comment by Wade | 08.5.2009 | 4:19 pm

    I lost my mother to cancer and following your blog is unfortunately a familiar story to me in many ways.

    I missed half my bike racing season to be with my mother and I don’t regret it for a second. There’s always another season but you always wish you had spent a few more moments with that person.

    Down the road no one will remember that you skipped Leadville this once. But whatever happens Susan and your family will remember the time you spent during this period. Those are the people who matter and they will remember.

    Just my 2 cents.

  102. Comment by FB | 08.5.2009 | 7:43 pm

    As a caregiver of someone with secondary progressive MS, I can relate to your predicament and the guilt associated with any decision related to leaving the house. I know you know this, but I’m going to say it anyway. You have the right to participate in the same activities you would have participated in if the other person were healthy.

    Do I need to toss out that tired oxygen mask analogy? You know the one…put your oxygen mask on first before helping the person next to you.

    You know your situation best. Everyone here only knows what you’ve shared with us. Whatever your decision, make sure there is peace in it for YOU.

  103. Comment by Kent | 08.6.2009 | 8:08 am

    As hard as it may be to do so..I think someone gave you wings to race Leadville..pretty sure she’d want you to.

  104. Comment by Dean | 08.6.2009 | 1:51 pm


    If you can find the strength…race.

    It should not be a heavy heart that holds you back, but the wings of an angel to carry you to the finish line.

    You and your family is in our hearts and our prayers.

  105. Comment by diamondjim | 08.6.2009 | 7:40 pm

    I think your wonderful Susan has made the choice for you.
    God speed.

  106. Comment by sapie | 08.6.2009 | 10:46 pm

    Ride strong Elden. It’s what Susan would want.

  107. Comment by MVSC | 08.9.2009 | 9:36 pm

    Fatty –
    thoughts from a stranger: It will take years for Family Fatty to come to terms with the past few years—and the legacy — of The Amazing Susan Nelson. A couple of days with your Leadville Family won’t replace the gaping hole in your heart, but might be just what the Doctor ordered. Diversions and short-lived decompressions are good medicine as you try to find your metaphorical first gear. Allez, Fatty, if you can…

  108. Comment by skinny boy | 08.26.2009 | 7:25 am

    hey fatass!! ahahahahaha, faty faty faty faty faty faty faty faty faty hahahahahahahahahahahaha, u smelllike fred flinstones ass!!!!!!!!


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