My Plan for the Austin LiveStrong Challenge

10.22.2009 | 7:37 am

I will be riding the Austin LiveStrong Challenge and Ride for the Roses this weekend. I talked a little bit about what we’ve accomplished in terms of fundraising yesterday, but I have not yet talked about a very, very important fact about this event:

My sister Kellene will be coming to Austin with me, as my guest.

Yes, the very same Kellene who:

  • Has fallen off a cliff while mountain biking, but who still loves mountain biking.
  • Has perfectly illustrated the difference between how men and women approach mountain biking road trips.
  • Has put her own life on hold I don’t even know how many times to come to my house and take care of me and my family.
  • Is able to persuade me to do anything. Including her famous “jump for the cameraposes. Note that she has the same expression in both these photos: 200910220725.jpg 200910220726.jpg

Kellene, I should add, is a professional photographer for her day job. So photos from the trip are probably going to be a step or twelve above the ones you usually get from me. And also, they’re less likely to be taken with my phone.

I should also point out that of all five of the Nelson kids, Kellene is tied for most outgoing. (I believe I am in fourth place.)

So don’t be too surprised if I bring back a “jump for the camera” photo of Lance and me.

The Ride

My ride plan for the LiveStrong Challenge is really very simple: GO HARD. Yes, I am going to treat it like a Charity Race. If I can bridge up to the Armstrong Group, I will. And I will hang with them until I cannot, after which I will finish the ride as fast as I can.

If you are a fast Team Fatty member, please work with me. Help me get to that front group and hang with them as long as possible.

Then, once I finish the ride, I plan to stick around at the finish line and thank / hang out with Team Fatty members who finish after me (as well as anyone who finishes before I do and is willing to stick around).

I promise I will be very sweaty and stinky.

And grateful.


Big Day for Team Fatty

10.21.2009 | 7:25 am

I just sent an email to the winner in the “Win An Ibis, Take It Anywhere You Want, and Ride it With Andy Hampsten, Chuck Ibis and Fatty” contest, and have heard back from the winner: Kyle, of Evergreen, CO. Here’s what he had to say:

I just got into to work through the muck and snow, opened up your blog and read your description of the winner and my heart started pounding.

Wow! I’ve never won anything. Thank You! I was sitting at dinner last night and telling my wife that I felt really confident. I said it was for a good cause and winning wasn’t important so that’s usually when good things happen.

I’m 39 years old and live in Evergreen CO, in the foothills west of Denver. I’m an operations manager for a small steel company in Wheat Ridge in the suburbs of Denver. I’m married and have a 6 year old girl and a new born baby girl (5 weeks tomorrow). My wife and I were born and raised in Pittsburgh and that’s where I started mountain biking in 1993. I bought a Paramount hardtail with my first real paycheck when I got my first real job out of college. So I’m a mountain biker through and through so it will definetly be one of the mountain bikes. (I’m scared of cars so I don’t ride on the road much.)

I’m thinking California for the trip since I’ve never really ridden there ( I rode the Kamakazi trail at Mammoth and then the Flume trail in Tahoe, but that was 15 years ago) and Colorado and Utah are so close that I can ride them anytime. Maybe we can hash out between your guys expertise the benefits of both So Cal and No Cal.

Anyway, I am stoked! I’m looking forward to meeting you.Thanks for letting us all be a part of your journey as it’s affected the way I approach my own life.

Kyle seems like a great guy; I’m excited to meet and ride with him.

So What Have We Accomplished?

With the final LiveStrong Challenge of the year happening this weekend and the last big Team Fatty fundraiser push behind us, now seems like a good moment to consider a few facts about what we’ve accomplished:

  • There are nearly 600 of us. 596 people have joined up to be a part of Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting Like Susan. No LiveStrong Challenge Team has ever had that many team members.
  • We have raised more than 3/4 million dollars. As of the check I just did — which does not count membership fees — we have raised $761,968. No LiveStrong Challenge Team has ever raised that much money. And when you consider the economy we did this in, I think this achievement is doubly huge.
  • We have gotten thousands of people to donate to the fight against cancer. Just looking at the number of people — who aren’t even signed up as part of Team Fatty — who have donated to my LiveStrong Challenge pages is hard to comprehend. Close to 7,000, I believe (which may or may not be a new record; I don’t know). And while I have definitely dangled a lot of carrots as incentives, I don’t believe anyone was making the donation simply because they thought they were going to win something.

And as far as this weekend goes, we’ve done pretty well, award-wise:

  • Austin LiveStrong Challenge Team Messenger Award
  • Austin LiveStrong Challenge Individual Messenger Award
  • Ride for the Roses Team Messenger Award
  • Ride for the Roses Individual Messenger Award
  • Ride for the Roses Team Champion Award

So, um, wow.

Apart from these numbers and awards, though, there’s something Team Fatty has done for me: It’s allowed me to convert something random and evil into something meaningful and good.

So, to everyone at the LAF, to everyone in Team Fatty, and to everyone who ever donated as part of my contests: Thank you.

Seriously, Thanks

I have asked, so many times this year, for people to donate money. And now it’s time, I believe for me to give something away without asking for anything. As a “Thanks for sticking with me through one helluva year” kind of thing.

I don’t know exactly what this is going to take the form of, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving away a bike.

And if you’re local (or willing to make the trip), I daresay bratwurst will be involved.

Ibis Contest: Bonus New Prizes! Last Day Today! Donate Now!!!

10.20.2009 | 11:23 am

Believe it or not, today — up until Midnight (MDT) tonight — is the last day you have to enter the Win An Ibis, Take it Anywhere You Want, and Ride it With Andy Hampsten, Chuck Ibis, and Fatty” Contest.

Just in case you have forgotten, here is what you win with this contest:

  • You get a bike. But not just any bike. An Ibis bike. And not one we pick out for you. You get to decide which one suits your fancy best: a Mojo SL? A Tranny? The Hakkalügi? Or a Silk SL? Really, you can’t go wrong.
  • You get to take it for a ride. Where would be a great place to take that new bike for a ride? Think about it long and hard. Cuz we’re going to send you there.
  • You get to ride your bike with two famous people, and one beloved, award-winning, Internet cycling blog celebrity (me): Andy Hampsten and Chuck Ibis are going to go riding with you at your awesome place. Seriously. Andy. Freaking. Hampsten. And I’m coming too, because Chuck is awesome and because I want to meet Andy, too. And because I love you.

So, that’s not a half-bad prize, is it? No sir, it is not. Especially considering the fact that even if you don’t win, your donation is still doing a heckuva lotta good. Specifically, it’s going straight to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, to help them bring the fight to cancer.

But guess what? Just to help those of you who are on the fence about donating get off the fence, today we’re going to throw in a couple of last minute prizes (and for those of you who already donated, don’t worry: if you win, you still definitely get these prizes).


First off, you’ll get this Tour of California jersey, which is signed by Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Bob Roll.

I’ve been holding on to this jersey for a long time (since the Tour of California), waiting for the right moment to give it away. And the last day of the last big contest seems like a good moment.

And, as if that weren’t enough, you’re going to get one more thing:


Yes, that’s right. The winner of this contest gets a pair of Oakley LiveStrong JAWBONEs. Now, I have a pair of these, myself. And I don’t mind saying that they are, bar none, the best cycling glasses I have ever owned. Changing out the lenses takes seconds. The glasses fit so comfortably. And they look good, even on a doofus:


So, you know what I think you should do? I think you should read the contest details here, then click here to go enter.


And Now for a Little Bit About the Ibis Silk SL

You know, this isn’t the first time we’ve given an Ibis bike away. Last year, we had a similar contest, and Friend of Fatty Matt Kreger won it.

Well, he’s had that bike for a year now, and it’s looking darned good:


Along with this photo, Matt emailed me, saying, “As it sits, this bike weighs under 15 pounds. I love my Ibis Silk SL.

And let me add my own two cents. I also have an Ibis Silk SL — currently being built up as a 13-pound SS Road Climber’s Delight project — and I love mine too.

This is a great bike. A really great bike. Which leads us to Chuck Ibis’s final installment in…

The Great Bike and Ride Pairing Miniseries

It’s time to talk about the wine country.

One of the things I’ve been lucky enough to do is spend a lot of time riding in the great cycling regions of the world and in particular Mediterranean Europe: Spain, Italy, France and Switzerland. Even luckier, I get to guide for Andy Hampsten’s touring company based in Tuscany, where he’s found some of the best roads on the planet. Here’s an example (Courtesy of our friend Arnaud).

Not only do Andy and and I have hairy legs in common, we both share a love for riding in Sonoma County, where I live. It’s also where another pro you might have heard of lives, named Levi Leipheimer. The point is, these guys ride all over the world in the best places, and one of their favorites (enough so that Levi lives here and Andy rides here and leads tours here) is Sonoma.

Here’s a picture of me riding my Silk SL out on King Ridge road on this year’s GranFondo route.


The “King” of rides around here is called King Ridge road. That’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as our choices go. Years ago we made a water bottle celebrating our favorite rides in the area.


That’s right, the Safeway pony is one of them.

Raffle Winner, if you choose any of these rides, prepare to smile. And for the rest of you, you might want to save this graphic. If you ever need a ride guide for Sonoma County (and over into Napa) this will serve you well.

After the winner’s glorious ride in Sonoma, maybe a trip down to San Francisco (an hour south) will be in order.


You could do worse!

PS From Fatty: This contest is seriously the best I can do. The last big contest of the year. The grand finale. I’m maxed out here. Exhausted, really. And you’re fighting cancer when you enter. So, one last time: Click here to enter,

And I hope you win.

What I’m Going to Say in Austin

10.19.2009 | 7:31 am

A Note from Fatty: Believe it or not, tomorrow is the last day you have in the “Win An Ibis, Take it Anywhere You Want, and Ride it With Andy Hampsten, Chuck Ibis, and Fatty” Contest. If you haven’t entered yet, read the contest details here, then click here to go enter. Don’t delay! Operators are standing by (except they’re not really).

And now, Part III of “The Great Bike and Trail Pairing” miniseries, written and photographed by Chuck Ibis himself.

The Southwest is for Mojos

So far we’ve had a pair of pairings of idea bike and ride locations, mere suggestions for the winner of our contest. Maybe our winner can do us one better?

Today I’m thinking about a much broader geographical area, that of the great Southwest…


…and the Ibis Mojo.


Think about Moab, Zion, Fruita, Thunder Mountain and more.


This one is about as obvious a pair as salt and pepper. Give the Mojo what you want as far as trail obstacles…rocks, ledges, jumps, lions tigers and bears…and oh my it will take what you can dish out.


It’s almost too wonderful to take in. Yeah, I mean both the view and the bike.

But here’s the thing. If you don’t enter, you won’t win. You won’t win the Ibis of your choice, with a ride in a place of your choosing, along with Andy Hampsten, Fatty and me, unless you go and donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Do it here. Do it now.

(And now, back to the scheduled post of the day)

What I’m Going to Say In Austin

This week, I’m going to be in Austin for the LiveStrong Challenge and Ride for the Roses. And at some point, the Lance Armstrong Foundation is going to reward everyone who’s worked so hard to raise so much money in this fight against cancer by…having me stand up and talk to them.

That hardly seems fair, does it? I mean, after all these people have done, you’d think the LAF would instead hire a troupe of singing monkeys or interpretive dancers to entertain these good folk.

But having a blogger talk to them? Ew.

But the thing is, I do have something that’s been on my mind. It’s short, but it’s what I’ve been thinking.

Here it is. Or at least, here’s how much I’ve gotten so far.

Fatty’s Austin LiveStrong Speech

Lance Armstrong and I have some very interesting similarities. For example:

  • We both like bicycles, and have been known to ride them from time to time.
  • We both like the Tour de France, and have been known to participate in it from time to time (I consider viewing an important form of participation).
  • We both like the Leadville 100, and have each completed it a dozen times. What? He’s only done it twice? Well, at least we both do it on rigid singlespeeds. What? He races on a full-suspension bike? With gears? Well, where’s the challenge in that?
  • We both have earned a measure of Internet celebrity by writing about Lance Armstrong.
  • We are both within 3 years of turning 40. ‘Course, My three years is in the opposite direction, but still.

There are some much more serious similarities between Lance and me, though. We’ve both been hit hard and personally by cancer. Lance fought it himself; I fought it alongside my wife. And it changed and focused both Lance and me.

I think Lance would agree that during your own battle, you are — rightly — focused on yourself and your own treatment. When you’re fighting cancer, you’ve got to marshal all your energy — and the energy of anyone who is willing to stand with you — and engage the battle.

Eventually, one way or another, everyone’s personal battle with cancer ends. Lance’s ended with a cure and restoration to health.

Susan’s and my battle ended with her passing away last Summer.

And this brings up another important way Lance and I are similar. Somewhere along the way, we’ve each realized that the fight against cancer is far too ugly, far too awful, and far too painful to treat as simply personal.

At some point, we’ve each decided that we’ve got to do something to help other people in the fight.

Now, there are a couple of other interesting ways Lance and I are similar. We’re each the dad of four kids. Two boys, and two girls.

That’s perhaps not so very unusual, but this part is: my girls are twins, and are just about three weeks older than Lance’s girls, who are also twins.

And when I think about breast cancer and what it did to my wife, and the way it did the same thing to a grandmother I never knew, and how cancer has affected an almost ridiculous number of people in my family — my wife, my grandmother, my father, my sister, my stepmother, my stepfather — and then I think about my girls.

We’ve got to find more and better ways of treating this. Of detecting. Of someday curing it or better yet preventing it.

Because that’s another way Lance and I — and most everyone else — is the same. We’ve almost all been affected by cancer. And the horrible thing is, we’re all probably going to be affected by it again, sometime in our lifetimes.

So we’ve got to do something. For those close to us now, and for those who we don’t even know right now.

Which is And that’s why I’m proud to help raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I’ve seen, firsthand, the sense of purpose — of mission — in the people here. From Lance to Doug Ulman to Colleen O’Farrell to AnneMarie Rickes to Ron Kolenic to Chris Brewer to many, many others.

These are people who care about this fight as much as I do. And I’ve seen them care about it on a personal level and on a global scale.

I think the fight against cancer always starts as a personal battle. But for me — and for Team Fatty and for Lance and for the Lance Armstrong Foundation — it’s grown way, way beyond that. The fight doesn’t end with your own battle against cancer. It doesn’t end at all. It just gets bigger.

And it never stops being personal.

How About Riding a Hakkalügi in Sonoma County?

10.17.2009 | 9:00 am

A Note from Fatty: You don’t have much time left in the “Win any Ibis, Take it Anywhere You Want, And Ride it With Andy Hampsten, Chuck Ibis, and Fatty” contest. Details are here, and you can go enter the contest by clicking here.

I’ve asked Scot Nicol — AKA Chuck Ibis — to describe which bikes he’d take to what places. This is Part II in “The Great Bike and Trail Pairing” miniseries.

The Almost Unbearable Lightness of Being…On a Hakkalügi in Sonoma County

Being from the wine country in California, I am constantly hearing about parings. Furthering our pairing discussion of yesterday, here’s a wine country pairing suggestion for our future contest winner: Get a Hakkalügi


…and ride it in Sonoma County.

I know that the “Lugi” is technically sold as a ‘cross’ bike, but it’s unlikely that our winner will want to waste a chance to ride with “the legend of the Gavia” in the form of a 45 minute cross race.

So I have a better idea. Let’s go on an “Adventure Bike” ride, right here in my backyard, an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge.


This ride will be as tasty as PB&J (another great pairing) and as unlikely as vanilla ice cream in root beer (I think I’m salivating). And it might be more memorable than either.


Our “adventure” rides extend the variety of riding we normally do by allowing us to weave in long stretches of dirt…


…in the middle of a nice road ride.


Bonus: no cars on the dirt.


The photos you see above are from a 72 mile stint we did that was about 2/3 pavement and 1/3 dirt. Lots of scenery. One Pacific Ocean. One Highway One (briefly).

Yeah, you could do worse than choosing the a Hakkalügi / Sonoma County pairing.


There’s just one problem. You can’t win this bike or go on this ride with Andy Hampsten, Fatty and me unless you enter the contest. Which you should do. Right now. Click here, already.

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