LiveStrong Challenge Austin: Friday and Saturday

10.27.2009 | 7:05 am

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.

Friday Evening

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.


  1. Comment by Onan the Barbarian | 10.27.2009 | 7:27 am

    You need to rock the pink ribbon basket on all your rides next year. It would be epic.

  2. Comment by Don | 10.27.2009 | 7:32 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a little disheartening that the people that work the hardest and bring in the most money in the way of donations get 5 slow miles worth of Lance’s time. I know he’s a busy guy, but that’s just not enough in my opinion. You should have gotten the keys to one of his houses, your own room, an expensive car, unlimited use of his bikes, and a free trip to the tour for everything you’ve done.

    You are a special man Fatty! Thanks for being an inspiration.

  3. Comment by cece | 10.27.2009 | 7:33 am

    I agree! Love that pinked out bike!

    I am living my life vicariously through you at the moment Fatty until I can join and ride with you next year…and I guess that time to register is coming up in December for the Livestrong events.

    What a great time! YOU ROCK!
    PS. Did not know your sissy had hair! All that under her helmet?

  4. Comment by Heather | 10.27.2009 | 7:39 am

    I love the bike!! Definitely use the basket on your rides next year. Great idea…fashionable and useful. Can’t wait to read the rest of the story…and watch the speech as soon as I can get my computer issue worked out. I know it is fabulous!! Thanks for being an inspiration for so many people!! You Rock!!

  5. Comment by Carl | 10.27.2009 | 7:46 am

    Great job Fatty… I am so proud I was able to play a little part by raising some money and riding in Philly. To those who read your blog but didn’t do one of the challenges, I hope you will join us in 2010… It is a live changing experience.

    P.S. Philly Jen – great hair!!!

  6. Comment by Sara | 10.27.2009 | 7:50 am

    Next question for Lance from Fatty — “Do you read my blog?” Great weekend report and looking forward to more as always!

  7. Comment by TexasTailwind | 10.27.2009 | 8:15 am

    Love the BikeSnobNYC shirt

  8. Comment by Joanne | 10.27.2009 | 8:23 am

    Thanks for confirming that if you are looking for an “athlete as role model,” Dave Wiens is your man.

  9. Comment by Lowrydr | 10.27.2009 | 8:26 am

    Large outburst of really loud clapping for all that attended and helped raise the bar for donations to a great cause. May it double in 2010, well at least 1/2 again as much.

    Cute basket, I’m sure the twins would be jealous of that Pink Basket. Better get them one for their bikes there Dad.

    Go Team Fatty!!!!

  10. Comment by Niall @ Brisvegas | 10.27.2009 | 8:53 am

    Note to self: Self stop reading FC blogs in bed whilst savouring a glass of Johnnie Walker Red. Laughing whilst slurping whisky does bad things in the nasal passages and makes so much noise it wakes a deaf wife sleeping beside you.

  11. Comment by Dan O | 10.27.2009 | 8:57 am

    Great to meet you this past weekend

    All of Austin was amazing.

    Even though I only completed 65 of the 90 miles I had planned, it was an amazing experince.

    I’ve got some photo’s but they are still in the camera. I’ll try to get some up soon.

    life is good

  12. Comment by Mikeonhisbike | 10.27.2009 | 9:03 am

    Getting to meet Dave Weims would have made my weekend. He’s one classy guy in my opinion.

  13. Comment by hubcityrob | 10.27.2009 | 9:09 am

    So when will Twin 6 start making bike baskets? Perhaps a special 2010 Challenge edition for the whole Team Fatty? I’m in!

    I agree the team captains should receive a huge round of applause! Thanks for all you did.

    Great summary of Saturday. It was just like I remember it … well, except for the riding with Lance. And the fancy cars and houses. And I didn’t have to speak so I didn’t throw up on Doug. Missed out on those.

  14. Comment by sandy | 10.27.2009 | 9:43 am

    One of the most hilarious Fatty posts. Thanks for the chuckles and giving us the scoop!

  15. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 10.27.2009 | 9:49 am

    Congrats to all of Team Fatty!! I now consider myself a team member, not because I’ve gone to any of the events, but I have followed them through your blog. That’s participation, right?

  16. Comment by Philly Jen | 10.27.2009 | 9:51 am

    And now for the DVD Bonus Reel (with extra thanks to Mike Roadie and Clydesteve and the Peterson-Tiscornia crew for bringing me on board):

    Clip #1: The convertible seen in the first photo is an Aston Martin. With an open cockpit. A single window is rolled up on the driver’s side, bearing a piece of paper that reads (in very large letters) “Please do not touch car.” Reading this, a certain award-winning blogger and beloved hero of cyberspace says, “Yes, but it doesn’t say ‘Do not LICK.’ ” He sticks out his tongue like a Giant Iguana of Doom and hovers just inches from the vehicle. [Photographic evidence exists. Just not here.]

    Clip #2: The house seen in the first photo has over 9,000 square feet of interior space, including a walk-in clothes closet larger than my entire domicile, and plentysix bathrooms. But zero toilet paper. Not a square to spare. There is, however, a bidet AND a fireplace in the master bath suite. Which lends a whole new meaning to the phrase “Allez-allez!”

    Clip #3: The Friday dinner had an international theme, with different various food stations representing different countries. The English station has fried fish + potato chips, along with tiny individual dishes of sticky toffee, a confection which nobody will touch. (People in a darkened venue are reluctant to consume a fist-sized mound of unfamiliar, poo-colored, poo-shaped, poo-gooey food? How very surprising.)

    Clip #4: The four co-captains try to get a jumping photo with Fatty. I get no air, as seen above. We try for another shot. I am the only one wearing a dress. I get way too much air. [Photographic evidence exists. Just not here. Which is why I now live to serve and worship Kellene.]

    Clip #5: My pink hair is not the result of drinking light pilsner-style beers with a hint of real fruit flavor. It’s actually an incredibly fabulous wig, courtesy of my friend Gwen in Austin. If you look closely, you’ll see that MattC’s hair is also pink in his solo photo. Why? For Susan.

    Team Fatty 2010: Opening December 1st. Better than sticky toffee.
    = WIN =

  17. Comment by MattC | 10.27.2009 | 10:11 am

    A big YO goes out to all in Fattydom…what an amazing weekend! Just can’t pack more fun into 3 days. Meeting and hanging out with a bunch of Fatties is hard to beat. Honestly, there’s just too much to tell for the comments section, and besides…Fatty is doing it GREAT justice.

    It would appear that I got WAY more air in the Team Capts ‘jump’ photo than the rest of you…maybe it was because I was already walking on air just meeting you all. Still had my blond (and turning white fast) hair at that point. It was pink less than 24 hours later thanks to Philly Jen and her PINK HAND of doom. Thankfully it’s mostly washed out, with only a few comments about the slightly pink overtones this morning at work.

    Thanks for all the kind words Fatty…I don’t blindly follow someone, devoting huge amounts of my time and energy unless there is something really worthy there. I believe that I ALSO chose wisely. Meeting you held no suprises…you are EXACTLY what/who I expected from ‘knowing you’ from your blog (and the bar was set MIGHTY HIGH my friend…mighty high indeed). It was and will continue to be an honor to help you in this fight.

    OK..back to work (and some rest…thankfully! I’m BEAT!)

  18. Comment by MattC | 10.27.2009 | 10:30 am

    Oh…and for those looking for a slightly less crowded event (including EXTREMELY easy parking btw), with the ride start/finish smak dab in the middle of the city, consider signing up for (and attending) San Jose in 2010! I’m not trying to poach your people Steve, Jen and Mike…(ok, maybe a little poaching)…this is mostly for those that DIDN’T sign up/attend an event. We could REALLY use some more team-members next year…I’m just sayin.

    And another note to think about for those that did get off the fence and become team members but didn’t get to go to the Saturday Award dinner: honestly, that is one of the true highlights of the entire weekend! You MUST attend that dinner! I can’t explain how AWESOME it is…so start planning NOW! My biggest mistake was sitting on my caboose too long and finally starting my fundraising too late. 3 grand IS totally do-able! There’s LOTS of knowledge out there in Fattydom to help you on your way! Just DO it!

  19. Comment by Chris | 10.27.2009 | 10:46 am

    Dave Wiens is tall, didn’t realize that.

  20. Comment by Frank | 10.27.2009 | 11:03 am

    Nice hair, Jen!

    75 mph…wow, I start panicking at 40 mph.

  21. Comment by Lizzylou | 10.27.2009 | 11:10 am

    Philly Jen has that familiar expression I see :)

  22. Comment by paul | 10.27.2009 | 11:30 am

    I joined Team Fatty thanks to some PR from my favorte blogger Bike Snob NYC, but I was with my family all weekend so I didn’t get to meet any team members. Maybe next year. Looking at all these pictures I am slightly disappointed no one else looks very fat, including Fat Cyclist.

    It was an awesome (but windy) ride for a great cause (even if my only Lance spotting was on a video monitor). Look forward to next year.

  23. Comment by Zed | 10.27.2009 | 12:11 pm

    Fatty, have I mentioned how cool you are lately?

    P.S. I think you need to have PhillyJen guestblog for you sometime. She’s HILARIOUS!

  24. Comment by El Animal | 10.27.2009 | 12:46 pm

    One note in favor of the Michelob Ultra. They had beer in one of the rest stops, and I think it was the greatest idea ever. I don’t care if it tastes like water. After 70 miles it tasted like glory.

    PS: Philly Jen,

    It was great meeting you. I’m a big fan of Dudamel too.

  25. Comment by asmathews | 10.27.2009 | 12:48 pm

    Amazing! Fatty and the co-captains did a great job! I love the pink hair Jen. I wish I could have been there, but I’m glad I got to experience Team Fatty at the Philly event.

  26. Comment by Haven (used to be Kt) | 10.27.2009 | 1:14 pm

    Fatty, that’s a really “manly” pose you got going on there with the pink basket bike– manpris, Keens, butch sunglasses….

    That Dave guy is really tall!! Or did you shrink?

    Sounds like you all had a great time. It’s awesome being a part of Team Fatty, I’m really looking forward to next year!

  27. Comment by Sasha | 10.27.2009 | 1:25 pm

    Yay! I’m going to try to round up some folks from Alaska to ride in Austin next year as part of Team Fatty! :) I would say Philly, cause of Philly Jen (LOVED the post! LOVE Jen), but I need more time to train! And I think Texas is closer,ie, shorter flight time, than Philly. Can’t wait to see more photos and read more about the ride itself! Woot!

  28. Comment by Charisa | 10.27.2009 | 1:35 pm

    75mph. CRAZY! Glad to hear Lance was scared :)

  29. Comment by austincyclist | 10.27.2009 | 1:36 pm

    its Austinatious Houses..

  30. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.27.2009 | 2:26 pm

    On the jump pic – Way to sandbag the rest of us MattC, by jumping late (well, at the right time when the rest of us were early, whatever).

    This past weekend was truly a blast. And, MattC & others have it right when they say the Saturday Appreciation dinner is a big highlight. So, so worth working for. As long as you do not mind being motivated & inspired while eating good food and swigging free drinks.

    To Do:
    1)Join a Team Fatty Team (or two) on December 1, 2009.
    2) Raise $3000 in donations to get an earned ticket to the Apprecition Dinner.
    3) Be so inspired you raise some more and come to Austin in 2010!

    And, in parting, what MattC said goes for me too: …I don’t blindly follow someone, devoting huge amounts of my time and energy unless there is something really worthy there. I believe that I ALSO chose wisely.


  31. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.27.2009 | 2:34 pm

    Oh, and on the subject of pink hair, if you stare at my nearly bald scalp, you can see that it is pink – from shame, for not being attached to pink hair stubble.

    But not much shame, Jen. I think I could get used to welshing on bets!


  32. Comment by T.J. | 10.27.2009 | 2:47 pm

    Oh you should post the team pictures that we took after the dinner with lance.

  33. Comment by MattC | 10.27.2009 | 3:23 pm

    TJ…go to my facebook. I posted some pics up last night, and I believe there’s one of YOU right next to his Royal Lanceness (that was you in the pink sunglasses, right?) on the stage (right after our team pics and we were all milling about trying to look like we had some reason to get next to Lance). I think I called it “I was THIS close” or something like that. I made my album available to everybody. Hope to put more pics up tonight.

    And ClydeSteve…you didn’t look too pink to me! I was really chuckling to myself when I saw that you and Mike Roadie effectivly have no hair to pink-up…knowing that I would bear the brunt of PhillyJen’s pink-handedness!

  34. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 10.27.2009 | 4:23 pm

    Thanks for giving us the details so us slackers who missed out on Austin can live vicariously through it all! Amazing weekend.

  35. Comment by Joel P. | 10.27.2009 | 4:25 pm

    Sounds like a well deserved awesome time was had by all. Thanks Fatty for being the point man we can all follow in this fight against cancer.
    Joel P.

  36. Comment by Debamundo | 10.27.2009 | 4:51 pm

    You need to gain some weight back. You’re looking so much like Stanley Tucci it’s scary. People will start mixing you up. People Magazine will do a story about how Tucci raised piles and piles of money for LAF.

    P.S. You rock.

  37. Comment by El_Animal | 10.27.2009 | 5:16 pm

    We should play a game, Stanley? or Fatty?

  38. Comment by Surlyrider | 10.27.2009 | 6:14 pm

    As a Philly guy, I have to admit, Austin was freaking amazing! Sure I was on vacation, but the energy, fatty teammates, the ride, and everything else was just fantastic. I guess in the “fatty” world I will always be introduced to folks as the guy that drove Fatty around Philly. I don’t mind that very much, because then people always say…I thought you look familiar. I think our crew is going to do Philly and one other ride every year from now till the end of time. Austin already has one vote. Maybe the other cities can entice us? We accept bribes!
    Check my blog and flickr site for a bunch of pictures and a write up or two.

  39. Comment by cece | 10.27.2009 | 6:32 pm

    Hey Matt C! Email me privatley and tell me all about San Jose. I have been trying to decide what ride to do next year and San Jose sounds like a convenient venue.

  40. Comment by Bander | 10.27.2009 | 6:46 pm

    I was suprised to see that there is in fact a picture in existence of PhillyJen without her mouth wide open.

  41. Comment by kyle | 10.27.2009 | 7:00 pm

    Enjoyed hanging out at cedar door and getting to chat on the way over to MJ’s.

    Was the best weekend I’ve had in quite a while! Great to meet so many fantastic folks in one weekend!

  42. Comment by Anonymous | 10.27.2009 | 7:44 pm

    Team Fatty – GREAT job!!!!

    Elden – the basket is practical and logical, just like…um….you :)

    Philly Jen – LOVE the hair!!

  43. Comment by John | 10.27.2009 | 7:53 pm

    Less like Special Forces more like Members Only.
    Dave W is one of the nicest people.

  44. Comment by Lissee (formerly known as Bitter) | 10.27.2009 | 8:01 pm

    Fatty, you make me laugh. In fact, this time it was a very loud gut laugh when I read that Lance was changing his name to Allen, but that we could call him Al.

    Glad the weekend went well.

  45. Comment by IowaDave | 10.27.2009 | 8:01 pm


    I’m sending along a Cedar Door picture of my wife and me. Two things about her that should her memorable to you, 1) we were behind you at the start and she had her Team Jersey signed with names of people she was riding for and 2) at 4:30 when we crossed the finish line and you were there to greet us (very cool and thank you) she let out a very audible “Good God!”. Either way, you would remember her as she is way more fun and cool to hang with than I am. Thanks for hanging at Cedar Door, chatting at the start, and being there at the end.

    PS Apparently I’ll have to email the picture separately

  46. Comment by Bruce Bebow | 10.27.2009 | 8:19 pm

    Hey, Fatty, as requested here are some links to photos I posted on Flickr.

  47. Comment by Jamieson | 10.27.2009 | 8:22 pm

    I’m still remembering the different and fun things that Austin provided. Got in on Friday, got settled in, met some friends on Saturday and dashed off to the Cedar Door.

    As part of Surlyrider’s crew, I think that I might be out on a limb here and start to make plans for 3 cities. Philly and Austin are in, have to figure out which is going to be the one to go to.

  48. Comment by John | 10.27.2009 | 9:36 pm

    It was so awesome to get to meet you momentarily at Mellow Johnny’s, sorry if I came off as a bit weird. Unfortunately, that happens when you’re actually weird. It’s hard to fake.

  49. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 10.27.2009 | 9:55 pm

    My pics and blog entry is up! Click my name to see it!

  50. Comment by Mary in NC | 10.28.2009 | 3:23 am

    Loved your speech. I hope Jen doesn’t shoot me but I am thinking of rotating which ride I do from year to year. Philly will always be my “first” but San Jose and Seattle seem do able. I think I’d save Austin for last.

  51. Comment by Lord Sedgepig | 10.28.2009 | 4:15 am

    I find myself somewhat distracted from your blog by the sight of various young men who have transformed themselves from wobbling tubs of lard to living diagrams of human musculature. As this transformation is said to only take two weeks I thought I might essay it and surprise Her Ladyship one evening. I assume that this process has your full backing and endorsement (although why you haven’t chosen to do it yourself is something of a puzzle)?

  52. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 10.28.2009 | 7:23 am

    Mary in NC- I have ridden in three of the four cities now and Austin is the first one I’d go back to. There’s nothing like it- miles and miles of riding, no lights, and almost no car traffic at all.
    Logistically, the start of the ride being 25 miles from the hotels was not ideal so San Jose, I’m listening…

  53. Comment by Seattlegirlz | 10.28.2009 | 7:55 am

    Forgot to mention the finish at the ride: THE fatty was waiting for all of us to cross the line, even tho he had finished hours before us. There he was all fresh and relaxed offering thanks and congrats to us stinky stragglers that had hauled our fatty asses 90 miles in headwinds with no boys to pull (we are girls that expect the boys to pull :)).

    No Fatty, we thank you and congratulate you on a job well done. The mission has only just begun and we were so proud to be a part of it.

    Please come to Seattle next year. We will be waiting.

  54. Comment by Haven (used to be Kt) | 10.28.2009 | 11:51 am

    Wow, Jenni Laurita, you had a tough time leading up to this event. Great blog, by the way– you’re a great writer. I’m so glad that everything came back normal from the tests, I’m sure it made your ride in Austin even better!! Great pics, too.

  55. Comment by 100 pounds ago | 10.28.2009 | 12:20 pm

    That coat was in fact the subject of several tweets a few months ago…see what I mean…the guy is going to need a finger transplant if he does not slow down on the tweets.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.