No time to write today. Much more important things going on this morning. Specifically, getting Halloween costumes ready.
Nigel is a block of Java code.
For those of you who can read this and want to know how it ends, here’s the back.
The girls — who are deeply into the Harry Potter series right now (we’re currently on Prisoner of Azkaban) wanted to be Harry and Ron.
Brice is working on the most sophisticated costume of all — he’s going to be Captain Duct Tape. He spent a lot of time working on the cape last night (yes, made entirely of duct tape), but he’s not done with the rest of the costume. I think it’s going to be awesome.
As for me, well, I’m Pearl Izumi Man.
I daresay this will attract some attention at the office.
[Note: More on this getup in another post. Meanwhile, would you believe that this jersey is their size XL? Yeah.]
PS: Start thinking about what moustache you’re going to grow. Team Fatty will be starting up Movember this Monday.
This is the last post I’ll do about the Austin LiveStrong Challenge. I promise. Unless something else occurs to me or I otherwise change my mind.
The thing is, though, I just got the photos of the team and me with Lance.
And they’re awesome.
The most rewarding one is the group photo from the award ceremony dinner on Saturday night.
Here, Lance actually volunteered to wear a Team Fatty jersey. The thing is, though, I didn’t have one with me to wear. So the guy you see behind and to the left of me, currently wearing a black t-shirt, gave his up for Lance to wear.
I also like the posed photo Lance and I took right before the dinner.
The thing is, while we were standing there, Lance actually told me something I did not know and that very few people know, and that a lot of people would be interested in knowing.
But I’m not going to say what it is. Because secrets are at their most awesome when people know you have one, but don’t know what it is.
But back to photos with Lance.
I have to say that my very most favorite photos are of me riding with Lance.
Gee, I wonder why he has a pained expression on his face? Maybe it’s because of this:
Or perhaps he’s just disappointed that the basket, with its copious carrying capacity, is — alas! — empty.
Maybe he’d be happier if there were something in it.
Or, considering my nickname and the nature of my blog, perhaps he was hoping for something along this line:
OK. Tomorrow we stop talking about Austin. Seriously.
Cuz you know, it’s about time to start thinking about Movember.
PS: Thanks to Red Licorice Events for providing me with that exquisite bike for the photo shoot.
After two days of hanging out, schmoozing, and generally doing my absolute best to counteract all the work I’ve done to become fit these past few months, it was finally time for the LiveStrong Challenge ride.
As befits an award-winning, beloved internet cycling superstar celebrity blogger, I arrived at the start line with just moments to spare, and pushed through self-importantly.
Then I acted like I had been there for hours.
Luckily, I was not the last guy to arrive. Lance arrived and got to the start line a few minutes after I did.
That’s Chris Brewer in the green shirt in the background, by the way. An incredibly terrific guy and survivor who’s made the fight against cancer his life’s mission.
I had made no secret of my plans for the LiveStrong Challenge ride. Using the front position Team Fatty had earned to maximum advantage, I’d go out hard, doing my absolute best to hang with the fast guys for as long as possible. Then, once they dropped me (and I knew they would drop me), I’d try to finish as fast as I could and get to the finish line. After that, I’d greet and thank Team Fatty as they crossed the line.
Well, that plan changed before the ride ever started.
Lance’s group of fast guys were positioned ahead of us. And then, to my surprise, they took off, while officials stopped us from going.
I guess Lance needed some “alone” time.
We didn’t get to leave the starting gate until about six minutes after Lance’s group did. And it seemed, um, unlikely that I would be able to make up six minutes on Lance and his group of fast friends.
So I decided that I’d make the second part of my plan the only part of my plan: Finish the ride quickly and hang out with Team Fatty.
Toward that end, I figured there was no special reason for me to ride the 90-mile course. I’d finish the 65-mile course sooner and see more people (Yeah, I could have applied that logic to its extreme and only done the 20-mile course, but I wanted to get a bigger ride in than that.)
Once the ride did start, I did my absolute best to get to the finish line fast. MattC — Team Fatty San Jose Co-Captain — did an incredible job being my leadout guy. He completely demolished himself bridging me to a group of eight guys who were riding a very fast pace, after which he said, “That’s it for me,” and settled in to enjoy the rest of the ride.
So for the next few miles, I buried myself, trying to hang with this group.
The group quickly shrunk. Before long, it was down to just three of us, with the same guy pulling the whole time. I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy managed to bridge.
As for me, I just couldn’t stick at that pace, and finally dropped off.
And then, for the next ten miles or so, I time trialed. While there were lots of people out on the course — many people start the ride on their own, without bothering about an official start — I’m pretty sure that for about the first several miles, I was the third-placed person who actually started when the gun went off (i.e., not with Lance’s group, and not with the self-starters.)
Then a group wearing Mellow Johnnies jerseys caught and passed me, letting me know my seatbag was dangling. I stopped and fixed it, at which point TC and MattC caught me and we rode together for a while.
But I was on a mission, so before long I gapped them and continued on.
65 miles can go by pretty fast when you’re going hard, and there aren’t many hills (in the 65-mile course, only one sticks out in my mind as being even remotely significant). Two bottles of water and three packets of Shot Bloks were all I needed for this kind of distance, so I didn’t stop at any of the aid stations. I just blew through and kept working toward the finish line.
Kellene, meanwhile, was cruising the same course, taking pictures with people and having fun. Here she is with Delvis:
Yes, she is a little creeped out.
The Finish Line
I finished my ride in three-ish hours. I think. I retrieved my bag, changed into comfortable clothes, went and grabbed some food and drinks, did a couple interviews (yes, really), and then got back to the finish line, just in time to see Lance finish the 90 mile course.
At that point, I made myself a fixture, looking for anyone in a Fat Cyclist jersey crossing the line, and congratulating them and thanking them for what they’ve done.
Kellene wasn’t far at all behind me, in spite of the fact that she had done the ride the way it’s meant to be ridden: as a big ol’ party.
And after that, I just hung out an enjoyed myself, loving the fact that I have the biggest, most fundraisingest, friendliest, and generally awesomest team that has ever kicked butt in all four LiveStrong challenges.
And that’s not subjective. That’s quantifiable.
Here are a few of the photos. There’s many more (post them in comments, Team Fatty!) that others took:
I stayed right to the end — tired, but not wanting to miss a single Team Fatty member who had stuck it out to the finish.
Eventually, the last rider came through. Those of us who remained made an aisle of people and tossed yellow rose petals all over him as he came through.
The poor guy — not a Team Fatty member — was totally cooked, though, and I don’t think he enjoyed the attention right then.
Then, with the finish line to ourselves, Kellene and I tried getting in a jump pose.
Not a single one of them worked.
I went back to the Ride for the Roses staging area to pick up my stuff and head back to the hotel, where I said bye to Bill — who met me at the airport and was practically everywhere during the event: an incredible volunteer! — and Fred, who took flawless care of hundreds of bikes and loaned me his very nice Cervelo road bike for the Challenge ride itself.
Seriously, the LAF staff, volunteers, and Team Fatty are some of the best, friendliest, hardworkingest people I have ever met. And they made this an extraordinary weekend.
I’ll be back in 2010. And I have a feeling Team Fatty will be bigger and more awesome than ever.
What would happen if you got together with about 3500 people who have all been working hard toward the exact same thing you had been? For the same reasons? And with the same intensity?
You’d have a three-day party called the Austin LiveStrong Challenge / Ride for the Roses.
This was one of those weekends that will stand out in my mind for a long time. I got to spend a few days relaxing — not working! — with my sister Kellene. I got to meet a lot of team Fatty. I got to hang out with the guys from Twin Six. I got to spend time with the people I admire at the LAF. And I — finally! — got to meet and hang out with my co-captains from all the event cities.
There was a Ride for the Roses dinner / party / “Welcome to Texas” shindig the evening I got there. Curiously, instead of being dropped off right where we could hustle into line for the food (astoundingly, I was hungry), we were supposed to first wander around and look at a couple of very expensive houses and cars.
Frankly, I didn’t get the connection to the cancer fundraising aspect of looking at ridiculously ostentatious houses. But that’s OK. I still posed by the banister on the upstairs deck of one of the houses:
I totally own that sunset.
Then there was dinner, which was a sort of “Fried Foods from Around the World” buffet. Much of it tasted like chicken.
And then Lance magically appeared (he has powers of teleportation) and talked to us.
Judging from his jacket, he has evidently joined a Special Forces unit canvassing the Alaskan tundra. Good for you, Lance!
And I got to meet and eat with the Team Fatty co-captains:
From left to right: MikeRoadie (Austin), me, ClydeSteve (Seattle), Philly Jen (Philly), and MattC (San Jose).
What a great group of leaders, and what a great group of friends. I chose wisely.
Oh, and since Kellene was taking the pictures, we tried to do a jump pose:
Yeah, that didn’t go so great.
And then, for no reason whatsoever, Colleen O’Farrell (who up until this evening had always been one of my primary go-to people at the LAF) came over and tried to throttle me, yelling at me, “I AM NOT YOUR PERSONAL ASSISTANT!”
Once I could breathe again, I asked her what time the bus back to the hotel was leaving, and whether she had ensured my bike would be ready with the tires’ air pressure set to my preferred level.
Saturday was nonstop fun. First, there was the “private ride with Lance Armstrong.” Here’s the way that private ride works. You and a group of 50 people or so go for a five mile ride at an ultra-slow pace behind a truck. Everyone gets a turn talking with Lance for a minute, while the photographers in the back of the truck furiously take pictures of you.
Most people brought their high-zoot road bikes. I brought the bike that the LAF staffers had provided for me:
Bad to the bone, baby.
Meanwhile, Kellene — whose superpowers of asking rival my own — went up to a surprisingly alone Lance and got a great photo with him:
As we were getting ready to leave, Lance rolled up to the truck and was talking with the photographers, shown here:
But the driver of the truck didn’t realize Lance was leaning on the truck, and pulled away, just about crashing Lance out:
Yeah, that would have been embarrassing.
As for my photos with Lance, I’ll have those in a couple weeks.
But really, the coolest thing for me was that while I was riding in the pack, someone pulled up beside me and said “Sweet ride.” I look over and it’s Dave Wiens.
He and I talked for about half the ride, and then I made sure to get some photos with him. Here’s the pose:
And here’s me giving him the hard sell on helping Team Fatty in 2010:
Actually, I didn’t have to hard sell Dave at all. In fact, he asked me what he could do to help. Further evidence that Dave Wiens is one of the nicest guys who has ever ridden a bike.
The Cedar Door and Mellow Johnnie’s
After the photo opp, we had lunch at the LAF headquarters, then went over to the Cedar Door, to hang out with some of Team Fatty. I had my picture taken with a lot people, but — strangely and stupidly — I didn’t think to use my own camera when any of those pics were taken. People who were there, do me a favor and post your photos in the comments section, K?
From there, a bunch of us made a pilgrimage to Mellow Johnnie’s, Lance Armstrong’s bike shop. And you know what? It’s a pretty darned nice bike shop. With some outrageously-priced clothing.
I did buy a t-shirt, though. I was living large.
The Awards Dinner
I already posted my speech from the Awards Dinner. What I did not post, however, was the fact that I spent most of the day nervous to the point of panic over that speech. Here’s me printing what was theoretically the final draft, about an hour before the speech.
I was so nervous before the event I was absolutely certain I was going to throw up on Doug Ulman’s (President of LiveStrong) shoulder when he gave me a hug as I got on stage. Here’s us before then, him blissfully unaware that I was 87% of the way down the road to Hurlsville:
That would have been photograph-worthy.
Oh and check it out: he’s holding a bottle of Michelob Ultra. That stuff was everywhere during the whole weekend. I loved hearing so many people describe how awful they think this beer-in-air-quotes is.
Note that Doug’s bottle is very nearly full. Almost as if he’s holding the bottle out of a sense of duty.
Lance and Doug then did a Q&A session. I was able to slip one of the questions in, and I used one that a commenter had posted on this blog: “What is the fastest you have ever gone on a bike?” What was awesome was that this question caused an audible gasp. It’s a really interesting question.
“75 mph,” was Lance’s answer, and he went on to say that he reached that speed in last year’s Giro, and that he was completely terrified, while simultaneously amazed at how all the “young guys” were bombing down at that speed without apparent concern.
Then it was my turn. Which you’ve either already seen, or you can see it here. Kellene got photos of my incredible co-captains as they stood up and took their bows:
ClydeSteve, Team Fatty Seattle Co-Captain
MattC, Team Fatty San Jose Co-Captain
Philly Jen, Team Fatty Philly Co-Captain
Mike Roadie, Team Fatty Austin Co-Captain
These four people — none of whom had ever met me in person before agreeing to take on this massive responsibility – deserve a huge round of applause from all of Team Fatty for the brilliant job they each did. And they have my thanks and gratitude for carrying this team entirely for a while, while I had to focus on myself and my family.
Shocker of the Evening
The big surprise of the evening came when Lance Armstrong announced that he was changing his first name to “Allen.”
OK, just kidding.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the day of the LiveStrong Challenge itself. You won’t believe the way it ends.
Actually, come to think about it, you probably will believe the way it ends. In fact, it ends very predictably.
But it’s still a good story, with pictures and everything.
Over the next couple of days I’m going to post photos and text from the whole Austin LiveStrong Challenge thing, but for right now I’d like to just put up one thing that will take up a gargantuan amount of time: my speech at the awards ceremony.
Thanks again to the 2009 Team Fatty, as well as anyone who contributed to any of our contests. Thanks to you, we raised within a hair’s breadth of $790,000. And thousands upon thousands of people got off the fence and did something — whether it was ride a bike, ask others to join the fight, or make a contribution themselves.
Team Fatty’s been a wonderful part of my life in 2009. I’m looking forward to joining with you to continue the work in 2010.