Riding With the Shack, Part III – Actually Riding With the Shack

12.17.2009 | 8:39 am

A Note from Fatty: Part II in the video series about my weekend with Team RadioShack is now posted. Check it out:

In today’s video, you’ll see me ogling the signed Madone, as well as drooling on my own. This is also the video where Johan Bruyneel and I present the giant checks for LiveStrong and World Bicycle Relief.

If you missed the first installment of this series, check it out here.

The Ride Begins

I always experience an odd moment at the beginning of a major ride or race. Just before it begins, I think something along the lines of, “It’s finally here. It’s starting in just a few seconds. This thing I’ve been thinking of as ‘in the future’ is about to become the present.”

This thought is usually accompanied by a twinge of nausea. Or, in this case, by a pretty big batch of nausea.

But then I start riding, and the nervousness goes away and I start enjoying the ride or race or whatever.

Except in this case, the nervousness just changed.

For the first hour or more of the ride, I never took either hand off the bars, not even to get a drink. Whenever we stopped at a light, I unclipped well ahead of stopping. I focused constantly on keeping a good distance behind the next bike, and was careful never to suddenly brake or stand.

I just did not want to crash these guys out.

That said, the first several miles — from the hotel to the base of the Mt. Lemmon climb — was easy. The road was flat, and people were talkative. I stayed in the middle of the pack, riding and talking with the U23 racers (Ben King of Australia shown with me here).


After riding a while (45 minutes? An hour?), we reached the base of the climb. Feeling good, feeling fresh, with adrenaline surging, I drifted toward the front.


Every couple of minutes, Johan would pull up beside me in the team car and ask, “How’re you feeling? How’s the bike? You doing OK?”

I’m pretty sure Johan was concerned for my health…as well as for his riders’ safety.

We eventually narrowed into (more or less) two columns, with me and Chris Horner — yeah, really — in second position.

And then the riders setting the pace dropped back, and I was in front.

Now, I would assert that I did a pretty good job holding the pace where it was. I learned later, however, that there was some grumbling toward the back about “Fatty ramping the pace up right at the beginning of the climb.”

And by “toward the back” I mean “by Lance Armstrong.”

Yes — and I believe this was caught on film — Lance complained about my pace.

Which may be the single most awesome thing that has ever happened to me.

Getting Some Help and Advice

I dropped back a little after a few minutes of pulling — and Lance rode up alongside of me.

“Pull those armwarmers down, Fatty, or you’re going to overheat,” he said. And then, “This climb’s 25 miles long, and you’ve got a car beside you. You don’t need any extra weight; give me that second bottle.”


Which I did, without — to my relief — crashing Lance out.

We then rode and talked for several minutes — honestly, just chatter. He mentioned he really likes the 2010 Fat Cyclist kit, and asked me to send him a jersey, socks, and set of armwarmers.

I believe I can oblige him on that.

Then Lance rode forward, moving on to talk with someone else. Putting me in the surreal position of sucking Lance’s wheel.


Then, as Daniel the video guy leaned out the window with his camera, Lance dropped back and said, “Put your hand on my back like you’re giving me an assist up the hill.”

And that brings up one of the most interesting things about my ride with Team RadioShack — what Lance is like on the bike. I noticed him moving back and forth in the group, talking and joking with his teammates — especially with the U23 riders — and looking like he was having a great time.

I kinda got the sense that this is the “real” Lance. A guy who loves riding his bike, and who loves riding with his team.

Which sounds pretty familiar.

The Fuse, The Bomb

About nine miles into the climb, I found I was having a hard time staying with the group. I was maxed out, and it wasn’t enough. I kept asking myself, “Am I losing power, or are they accelerating?”

I was pretty sure they were accelerating.

Half a mile later, I knew it was over — I couldn’t hold their pace any longer. “Goodnight everybody,” I said in my Donny and Marie voice.

“No way, Fatty,” replied Taylor Phinney, and he gave me a push back to the group.

I dropped back a couple more times, each time getting a boost back to the group by various riders.

And then, around mile ten, it happened. They accelerated. Hard. They just flew up the hill.

Within moments, I was at the back.


And then, moments later, I was shot out the back, babysat by a couple of club riders who were along with the group. Though I do take solace in the fact that I was able to catch and drop one of the U23 sprinters.

And after the club riders peeled off, I was completely alone.


OK, the truth is, I was never completely alone. Because Johan told one of the team cars to stay with me at all times — piloted by Philippe, with Glenn taking all these great photos. And with The Runner cheering me on.

I can’t even tell you how many times I was given an opportunity to pull over and throw my bike in the back, calling it a day. But here’s the thing: would you, given the opportunity to ride with (and eventually be dropped by) a top pro team, want to finish the ride by abandoning?

No, me either. So I kept climbing.

Then I saw the pros start coming down. Flying. Several of them yelling “Go Fatty!” as they went by.

Or maybe they were yelling “Slow Fatty!” Hard to know for sure.

But it reminded me a lot of Leadville — the way the fast guys on their way down are willing to shout some encouragement for the slower guys still working on getting to the top. Very, very cool of them.

I kept climbing.

The End

And then the team car passed me and waved me over. “You’ve passed the turnaround point,” Philippe said.

“Whu?” I replied.

“About half a mile ago. That’s where everyone else turned around.”

“So I’m the first one to get here?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

At which point I drew an imaginary finish line on the road and crossed it. “I win,” I said.

I was fully expecting to freeze to death on the descent — snow was more than a foot deep on either side of the road, and the wind was cold and strong.

So I have Glenn to thanks for my life: he loaned me the jacket he was wearing.

Knowing that I would never catch the pros on the descent — they had a massive lead on me and were increasing that lead every second — I cruised comfortably down the road. Enjoying the view. Considering that I had been on a ride with the pros.

And making sure I turned whenever the road did.


By the time I got back to the hotel, everyone else had been back for half an hour or so. Still, Johan was out in the lot, waiting for me. We talked about the bike, and talked about the ride.

Then, after a quick shower (and after somehow managing to not lay down and take a nap) I met Johan and Lance for lunch, where they assessed my riding performance (mediocre but tenacious) and told me what my big surprise is: I get to bring my family to the Tour of California for a stage, and ride in the team car. Lance suggested I try to be there for a mountaintop finish stage. Which sounds pretty darn good to me.

And then we talked about doing it again next year.

PS: I’m heading out right now to be interviewed for The Story, a public radio talk show hosted by Dick Gordon. Assuming I don’t completely freeze up and stutter and pass out, this interview should air sometime in mid-January. I’m nervous as can be. Wish me luck.


  1. Comment by Number one | 12.17.2009 | 11:52 am


    Nice bike fatso!

  2. Comment by Cathy Mehl | 12.17.2009 | 11:53 am

    This means we’ll see you at the Big Bear Lake stage for ToC!

    Love it!

  3. Comment by neca | 12.17.2009 | 11:54 am

    Wow! That is so awesome – especially that your kids are coming too. I think of them (and you) often. I can’t even imagine the sort of year they’ve had, I’m glad they have something really unique to look forward to.

  4. Comment by Spleen | 12.17.2009 | 11:56 am

    Super awesome. Talk about a dream come true, and better yet it was built out of generosity. I love it!

  5. Comment by Russell | 12.17.2009 | 11:56 am


  6. Comment by Rich K | 12.17.2009 | 11:56 am

    Fatty FTW! Nice job beating Radio Shack to the summit! What an awesome weekend. You so deserved this.


  7. Comment by Jason D | 12.17.2009 | 11:58 am

    Very cool, very very cool.

  8. Comment by Yvette | 12.17.2009 | 12:01 pm

    In that last black and white picture, you’re showing off some very nice calves.

  9. Trackback by Serving Humanity Since 1966 | 12.17.2009 | 12:03 pm

    Fat Cyclist Goes To Camp, Continued…

    Another installment of the Elden Nelson Goes To Team Radio Shack’s Winter Training Camp, reality show, is out now.In this video installment, Johan explains to the team how Fatty came to be there, and two very large checks are presented……

  10. Comment by Rich Wielgosz | 12.17.2009 | 12:03 pm


  11. Comment by Al | 12.17.2009 | 12:03 pm

    “Slow Fatty!” Gosh, I love this blog. Thanks Elden. And like Jason D said – very, very cool.

  12. Comment by Sasha | 12.17.2009 | 12:07 pm

    So awesome! I’m speechless. Okay, temporarily. If I weren’t at work, I’d be crying like a big baby. That was amazing. I felt like I was with you and my goodness how cool that they stuck by you for so long and that you were kicking their butts for the first part. :) I can’t think of anyone who deserved that awesome weekend more than you. Susan has got to be beaming down from Heaven watching all the wonderful things that people are doing for her amazing hubby. :) Go Team Susan! Win!

  13. Comment by Aaron | 12.17.2009 | 12:08 pm

    This snapshot is without doubt one of the most awesome shots ever for someone who dreams about riding with the pros. Also, great writing, Fatty.

    By the way, I wanted to mention that the WBR fundraiser is the first one of yours that I’ve contributed to. While I agree that cancer is something that must be fought, I also know that it takes a lot of money (consider that top researchers can earn well over $1M a year) so that $800K is — though impressive — a drop in the bucket. In contrast, $50K for WBR will allow almost 500 individuals to improve their lives through education or starting/growing small businesses. Right now — not in some possible distant future. And $50K (or whatever) for something like Doctors Without Borders would help so many more people suffering from “ordinary” health problems that can be life threatening in third world countries. I would like to see you use your fundraising superpower (a real superpower, no doubt about it) to raise funds for not only Livestrong but also other organizations throughout this coming year.

    That said, I understand if, because of the obvious source of your motivation, you decide to continue focusing solely on Livestrong.

    Keep up the good work, Fatty.

  14. Comment by Sasha | 12.17.2009 | 12:09 pm

    On another note. If it had been me and I found out it was a 25 mile climb, I think I would have ridden in the team car all the way up and rode down. :) That is a LONG freaking ride up a mountain! No thanks!

  15. Comment by NYCCarlos | 12.17.2009 | 12:09 pm

    That. Was. Awesome. I think I’ve said it every day you’ve posted about this, but I’ll say it again… Woulda loved to have been there.

    Props to Taylor Phinney and the rest that kept you with’em for as long as possible. That is just too cool. I wonder if Lance whines about the pace all the time, or just when it’s being set by someone with humongous quads. Maybe he didn’t get a giant cookie the night before and wasn’t properly energized?

  16. Comment by Mikeonhisbike | 12.17.2009 | 12:12 pm

    That’s was an awesome writeup. Any chance of seeing the video that you shot or have they asked you not so show it? I get the corporate thing. Anyway, way to go!!!!

  17. Comment by dug | 12.17.2009 | 12:12 pm

    “And making sure I turned whenever the road did.”

    this is good advice in almost any situation. almost.

  18. Comment by AngieG | 12.17.2009 | 12:13 pm

    AWESOME job FC!! Way to represent! :-)

    Maybe we’ll see you out the Cali way for the October King Ridge Granfondo? Hint Hint

  19. Comment by andy | 12.17.2009 | 12:14 pm

    What a surreal experience!

  20. Comment by Mike | 12.17.2009 | 12:15 pm

    I’ve been reading this whole thing smiling, just happy for you, what you’ve accomplished, and your amazing and well deserved experience. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Comment by belayslave | 12.17.2009 | 12:15 pm

    All I can say is…AWESOME! Thanks for letting us experience the trip vicariously! I want to leave work right now and hit the road…maybe I just will…

  22. Comment by Brandy | 12.17.2009 | 12:15 pm


  23. Comment by pablo | 12.17.2009 | 12:15 pm

    Amazing! Congrats on all – and thanks for the excellent reports!

    Next year, I’d love to see you throw support behind Levi’s work with the Forget Me Not Farm or Best Friends Animal Society — I’m sure he could provide a recommendation.

  24. Comment by Erin | 12.17.2009 | 12:16 pm

    Absolutely fantastic – you’ve lived every fanboy/girl’s dream. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  25. Comment by Janet | 12.17.2009 | 12:19 pm

    CHEERING in my cubicle!

    And wouldja look at those calves in the last glamour shot??

  26. Comment by rz | 12.17.2009 | 12:20 pm

    Unreal. Super Jealous. But in light of everything you’ve done (with raising the $ for cancer research and most especially for putting yourself out there with the constant opening of your heart, you totally deserve it, Elden

  27. Comment by Math. | 12.17.2009 | 12:20 pm


    You can’t just drop the last line like that and not explain anything! So I take it you’re in for next year too. That’d be awesome!

    The pictures are perfect, we can clearly see you’re enjoying yourself. Glad it all happened to you, you really deserve it!

    Hey what about you take that last line and make a whole post about it tomorrow?!!

  28. Comment by Erik | 12.17.2009 | 12:22 pm

    The Dude Abides.

  29. Comment by JamesK | 12.17.2009 | 12:24 pm

    So cool!!

  30. Comment by Lana | 12.17.2009 | 12:26 pm

    I LOVE the Story – you will have to keep us posted as to when it will be on….

    and such a cool story…. you are awesome (like you didn’t know it already)

  31. Comment by Alex | 12.17.2009 | 12:28 pm

    Loved the story! Very very cool! Thanks and I hope you get to do it again next year.

  32. Comment by Paul | 12.17.2009 | 12:30 pm

    wow man, wow. that is so amazing!

  33. Comment by Frank | 12.17.2009 | 12:32 pm

    Congratulations again. Great video and photos.

    I have to say though that I concur with Aaron when he mentions how the money raised for research is spent. It is unfortunate, but much of the money raised for cancer research goes to pay big salaries and perks. But perhaps even more troubling is the fact that nearly all of it goes to support research that is based on a flawed and outdated paradigm.

    It is not something people like to hear but I think it needs to be said. I too have a close family member who is facing terminal cancer and a friend who just got diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer so I can relate.

  34. Comment by Allison H. | 12.17.2009 | 12:32 pm

    As usual…. DYING laughing here. “Slow fatty”…. “So I’m the first one here, I win…”

    Thank you for sharing your amazing gift for storytelling with us. Though hubby and did not win the Team Bike despite numerous letters to Santa and prayers to all the gods, it was worth EVERY penny of our donation just to be able to read these wonderful excerpts of your trip.

    You are truly the most awesome blogger and fundraiser ever and you deserved every minute of that fantastical voyage!

    If the TdC route has a good mountain stage between Davis and Santa Rosa, come to that one. Then you’ll be right next to Marin (our home town); the birthplace of mountain biking aka Gary Fischer’s stomping grounds. Either that or come join us for the Thanksgiving Appetite Ride next year. Tons of food AND sweet mountain biking. :-) Ask Gary about that one.

  35. Comment by rjb | 12.17.2009 | 12:33 pm

    Great story, thanks for sharing. I spent last spring in Tucson and rode Mt. Lemmon several times… twice to the top. I know the feeling of freezing on the way down in March. It’s a beautiful ride. Sounds like it was nearly perfect for you.

    It’s unfortunately closed now, but the Mt. Lemmon Cafe in Summerhaven (at the top) used to serve wonderful pies. Too bad, that would have made a nice story… ride to the top, then stock up on some pie w/ Horner for the descent. After all, you’ve just burned something like 4000 calories to get there, so why not?

  36. Comment by DC | 12.17.2009 | 12:42 pm

    The pictures are great! Can’t wait to see the second part of the video-once I leave work.

  37. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 12.17.2009 | 12:47 pm

    Ditto what Angie G said! Come that stage.

    Love love love this post Elden – you have such a gift of storytelling. The whole experience just gives me chills. Good chills.

    Go Team Fatty!

  38. Comment by Canadian Roadie | 12.17.2009 | 12:48 pm

    What an amazing experience. Looking forward to tomorrow’s instalment?

  39. Comment by jilrubia | 12.17.2009 | 12:50 pm

    Congratulations…great job…Thanks for sharing, you sure do have a way of bringing us along that is amazing. Also, those photos are incredible.

    I’m sorry this will sound so “mom-like” but I’m just so PROUD of you and happy for you and your kids!!! What a journey. Goodness wins.

    p.s. I love “The Story” please let us know the air date when you hear.

  40. Comment by KanyonKris | 12.17.2009 | 12:52 pm

    Outstandingly cool!

  41. Comment by DC | 12.17.2009 | 12:57 pm

    Can I get permission to print 9808.jpg and put on my wall next to my trainer? It really captures how I feel when climbing any hill! Alone and it never ends.

  42. Comment by davidh | 12.17.2009 | 1:04 pm

    so what’s next? may i suggest developing a fatty team for the ‘great pie ride’…(ragbrai)2010. more choices of pie than any pie fan should have to face. you’ve never had great pie till you’ve tried a slice of amish made pie, they say it’s the lard(in the crust). http://ragbrai.com/index.php/galleries/best-of-ragbrai-2009/?pid=1354

    i also second my wife, a wise move, to come to marin, and ride repack trail on original equipment. ask mr fisher if he has one in the garage. invite others to join you and see just how many ‘fat’ friends you have out here.

    like everyone else, thank you for all you do.

  43. Comment by Jenni | 12.17.2009 | 1:07 pm

    My heart is exploding with joy for you.

    I actually like that you got to ride alone for some time, I’m sure it gave you time to pause and really absorb what was going on around you, to really feel the day.

    There’s no one in the world who deserved this day more than you.

    p.s. make sure you autograph the jersey you give to Lance

  44. Comment by Jenni | 12.17.2009 | 1:09 pm

    Wait, what did you think about the Madone?!

  45. Comment by bikemike | 12.17.2009 | 1:12 pm

    this one time at bike camp.

  46. Comment by Lauren | 12.17.2009 | 1:12 pm

    You’re so awesome Fatty :) It’s fun to have lived this trip through you.

  47. Comment by Doping Control | 12.17.2009 | 1:13 pm

    Dear Mr. Fatman;

    So…riding like a madman on the lower part of the climb, then PRETENDING to be unable to hold the pace, hoping it would throw us off. Nice. Very sneaky of you. But photographers are everywhere.
    It appears that you are flaunting your ginormous quads of (inhuman proportion) to the world. More evidence for us. That b&w shot will surely SCREAM steroids in whatever doping case we decide to pursue.

    And speaking of steroids: that ‘unknown’ substance that we found the other day? Turns out it was EGH (Equine Growth Hormone). Which is normally not tested for. MOST athletes intending to ’supersize’ their muscle mass use HGH (Human Growth Hormone)…you know…stuff intended for HUMANS??

    The ‘thorobred’ size quads you are currently sporting now make sense. However, there is one TINY little problem with our case: currently animal products aren’t on the forbidden list. No one ever suspected that someone would actually USE them. You sir are very clever indeed! We will make sure that animal growth products are added to our list. Fatty: 1, Doping Control: 0. But the battle is far from over my friend. It appears that you will get away with it THIS TIME! But be warned: we are watching.

  48. Comment by buckythedonkey | 12.17.2009 | 1:23 pm

    What a tale! Chapeau, Fatty. Chapeau.

  49. Comment by axel in texas | 12.17.2009 | 1:23 pm

    no ‘fat’ sprinters on the shack team, from the mold of Cipollini or Kirsipuu…?

  50. Comment by Noodle | 12.17.2009 | 1:25 pm

    Your quads looked magnificent. Excellent work.

  51. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.17.2009 | 1:25 pm

    2 thumbs up!

  52. Comment by Wes | 12.17.2009 | 1:29 pm

    If I had to suck something, Lance’s wheel would be it…

  53. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.17.2009 | 1:30 pm

    To the readers concerned with giving for cancer research:

    While LIVESTRONG and the Lance Armstrong DO support some cancer research, you need to know that you have made an assumption that is incorrect.

    The focus of the Lance Armstrong Foundation is SURVIVORHOOD. They support front line clinics currently treating cancer. And they support the people with cancer with counciling, advice, encouragement, and tools to do the tough job of selecting and submitting to a treatment, surviving the treatment, and living a full life post-treatment.

    This is not wasted money going into the pockets of rich Doctors & Pharma companies.

  54. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 12.17.2009 | 1:32 pm

    Wooo! Awesome! You kicked butt out there! You also looked kind of adorable with your helmet cam, pedaling along next to Lance.

    I’m so jealous, even though I know I wouldn’t have stayed with the group a fraction of the time you did.

  55. Comment by Jo | 12.17.2009 | 1:34 pm

    You’re living the dream man! Thanks for sharing the story and photos.

  56. Comment by Todd | 12.17.2009 | 1:39 pm

    You’re so awesome Fatty! I’m glad you got to go and especially glad that you hung on for so long. It must have been so cool to finally meet all those other pros that I’ve read about (Levi and Chris seam like really cool guys, and Taylor Phinney looks like he’ll have an amazing career).

  57. Comment by Penina | 12.17.2009 | 1:39 pm

    Clydesteve beat me to it, Aaron.
    LiveSTRONG is one of the best resources a cancer patient and their carers have, to help them get their heads on straight, to organize their lives, to make informed decisions, to learn about labor laws, insurance issues, and find clinical trials if that is the way a patient wants to go, all at a time that the sanest person would find themselves confused.
    Fatty supports LiveSTRONG, because they were there for him and Susan throughout the long battles.
    As they’ve been there for my friends and family…..

  58. Comment by ghdurham | 12.17.2009 | 1:41 pm

    Very, very cool. Well done!

  59. Comment by Cold Fatty | 12.17.2009 | 1:43 pm

    You’ve made Fatty’s around the world proud…. now let’s eat!

  60. Comment by Stacey | 12.17.2009 | 1:43 pm

    Wow Fatty! Just wow! You deserved every fabulous minute of that experience! Chance of a lifetime! Thanks for sharing!

  61. Comment by Meghan | 12.17.2009 | 1:46 pm

    I seriously had no idea how much pride and joy and love I could experience for a complete stranger! You are awesome! Looking forward to more photos, video, and “insider” talk.

    Oh, and Johan seems amazingly gracious. How cool.

  62. Comment by justrun | 12.17.2009 | 1:50 pm

    Aaahhhh! I love how excited you are! Johan saying he thought you’d be fat was hilarious.
    Congrats, again! What a day. This is probably one of my favorite posts of yours ever, behind all those about Mexican food, of course.

    Good luck on the interview!

    Also, nice comment above by “Doping Control.”

  63. Comment by MattC | 12.17.2009 | 1:51 pm

    Hey..just watched todays video. You should have insisted that Lance carry his check on the ride!

    I just can’t believe how utterly AWESOME Johan is! He’s the reason this went from a joke letter/post to something beyond comprehension! That the entire team is looking UP to YOU is just incredible!

    My dad always said “no matter what you do in life, be the BEST”. I think you are honing in on your correct path in life. You are so much more than just a blogger. You sir are making a HUGE difference in the world. Not many can truly say that. Lead on, El-Capitan!

  64. Comment by Jouni Ranta | 12.17.2009 | 1:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this incredible experience.

  65. Comment by brian | 12.17.2009 | 1:57 pm

    So in summary…

    You set the pace at the beginning, so fast that Lance complained.

    You gave Lance a push up the hill to help him out.

    You were the first to the finish line at the top. (In fact, you were the only one to make it all the way to the finish.)

    Johan & Lance evaluated you as tenacious

    Not bad…

  66. Comment by brian | 12.17.2009 | 1:59 pm

    I just took a closer look at that picture where you are on Lance’s tail.

    Looks to me like YOU are the one wanting to lick Lance’s calf…

  67. Comment by Sasha | 12.17.2009 | 2:05 pm

    Just have to throw in my two cents worth. Thanks Clydesteve and Penina for commenting on Livestrong and all they do as well as their mission. I don’t think it’s right to ask Fatty to start working on a several other charities, at least not at this time. The man just lost the love of his life not so long ago and Livestrong is an organization near and dear to him. Let him decide when and/or if it’s ever time to take on another charity to raise money. If you feel strongly about a charity, then by all means, start your own blog and get to it. That’s how Fatty did it. If he can do it, so can you.

  68. Comment by Mike Ride Bike | 12.17.2009 | 2:06 pm

    Only thing cooler than riding with those guys, having a very professional photographer making you look cooler than you must already feel. Those photos will come in handy when you’re an old man trading stories about this one time you led the brand new Radio Shack team up an epic climb and someone says, “no you didn’t”. Yes, yes you did.

  69. Comment by Steve Costanzo | 12.17.2009 | 2:15 pm


    I enjoyed this trip as much as you did! (Okay, not as much, but almost…) With the videos, the awesome photos, and of course your great narrative, it was like being there with you.

    Thanks for the ride, Fatty!

  70. Comment by Aaron | 12.17.2009 | 2:16 pm

    Clydesteve, Penina, thanks for clarifying. I was actually aware that some of the funds went to “front line” and preventative measures, which is why I do think raising $800K for Livestrong is a great thing.

    It would also be a great thing to raise money for other causes as well, like in this latest effort. Fatty is an unbelievable fundraising machine, and I’d love to be a part of more outrageously awesome campaigns for other causes. While I of course contribute through other channels, the difference with contributing through Fatty is that it’s just plain fun and heart-warming to team up with so many others and then watch the story unfold.

  71. Comment by Betsy | 12.17.2009 | 2:25 pm

    Way to go Fatty! Loving these posts and the video. What a fun time for you.

  72. Comment by plum | 12.17.2009 | 2:27 pm

    EPIC! The details are awesome. I feel like I was there – eh, well, you get the idea.

  73. Comment by MrsTeamPhillips | 12.17.2009 | 2:28 pm

    No doubt, the picture of you leading Team Radio Shack up the hill speaks a thousand words. You are a true leader, and a damn funny one at that (always important, in my mind). But what you don’t see in that picture is all of Team Fatty cheering you on from all corners of the world.

    Here’s to the start of something great!

  74. Comment by whitney | 12.17.2009 | 2:32 pm

    YAY! Reading about this amazing experience, and how much joy it brought you, gives me joy! I’m so glad you brought us along for the ride, in a sense, with your great summary!

  75. Comment by Neil | 12.17.2009 | 2:34 pm

    Go Fatty!!

    Awesome story! I am very envious!! Looking forward to hearing you on The Story. I listen to that show every night. That is exciting news..it’s a great show!

    Great Job!!


  76. Comment by Penina | 12.17.2009 | 2:35 pm

    Aaron, MOST of the LiveSTRONG funds go to patient advocacy and services.
    I personally got to Beta test the new guidebooks, and they are marvelous resources, given to cancer patients for free. They cost much to produce, so that is one of the many ways that donations go to help out.

  77. Comment by Malcolm Thomas | 12.17.2009 | 2:37 pm

    You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing such an awesome experience with us all. You rock Fatty! Keep up the good work!

  78. Comment by JB | 12.17.2009 | 2:39 pm

    Way to go Fatty, Way to go!
    I liked the photo of you by yourself on the way up the mountain, beautiful!

  79. Comment by James | 12.17.2009 | 2:44 pm

    This is so awesome, Fatty! I can’t help but smile while reading your account of a truly fantastic experience. You certainly deserve this and I am glad that you are enjoying every minute of it.

  80. Comment by aryn | 12.17.2009 | 2:50 pm

    This was THRILLING to read. I can only imagine how it was to live it. Well done and well deserved, Fatty.

  81. Comment by Susan | 12.17.2009 | 2:57 pm

    Love the retelling.
    Love the pix.

  82. Comment by Ryan | 12.17.2009 | 2:59 pm

    Fatty – cant even express how happy I am for you for this experience, and how proud I am of your performance! Nobody deserves it more, and I love how you take full advantage and include us in every detail. As a blubber-fighting recreational cyclist, I loved how well you represented for your readers like me who tenaciously climb like a loaded semi truck and only dream of hanging with the pros. Kudos my man! Keep up the great work! Seriously proud of you.

  83. Comment by David Smith | 12.17.2009 | 3:00 pm

    From France, with respect and admiration. Good job.

  84. Comment by Ceara | 12.17.2009 | 3:12 pm

    this story is UNREAL!! wow! hope you enjoyed..and 135,000 for charity unbelievable :)

  85. Comment by Kirsten | 12.17.2009 | 3:15 pm

    Congratulations, Elden! That sounds and looks like such an amazing experience! You deserve it!

  86. Comment by FatPedro | 12.17.2009 | 3:18 pm

    Wait a sec, this is titled “Actually Riding With the Shack” but the video didn’t include any shots of you actually on a bike riding with the Shack?!?! I have to wait another day for this?!?!

    Does this means I might have another dream tonight about riding with the esteemed Fat Cyclist (yeah, really).

  87. Comment by 6 | 12.17.2009 | 3:20 pm

    So so awesome. Love your story, and The Story. Can’t wait.

  88. Comment by Rob M. | 12.17.2009 | 3:25 pm

    “So I’m the first one to get here?”

    If you were out of breath at the top of Mt. Lemmon, clearly, it didn’t affect your sense of humor and your unique way of looking at things. Great post.

    Did Johan realize that you were the inspiration for Bob Roll’s televised hair cut at the ToC? Johan had the honor of removing all that hair. Well, okay. There wasn’t much.

  89. Comment by bobbie | 12.17.2009 | 3:25 pm

    Fan-freaking-tastic, Fatty!!! I was in tears through the video, and then came the stills ~
    You ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And I could just see Susan’s face, smiling at seeing the joy in yours ~ I think she definitely had a hand in this whole miraculous episode!!!

    hugs ~~~

  90. Comment by Sam Pellegrino | 12.17.2009 | 3:30 pm

    Lance had you pull down your arm warmers because you had them on the wrong arms, and he was saving you from TPhinney’s impending remarks!

  91. Comment by Doug (Way up State NY) | 12.17.2009 | 3:31 pm

    The story! I love that show and was actually thinking (today as I was listening) that you would be awesome on that. Please make sure you let us know when it is going to air!

  92. Comment by Nick | 12.17.2009 | 3:36 pm


    I have followed your blog for a while know, and having read as you have gone through some incredibly tough times in the last few months, it brings me such happiness and a huge smile on my face that you seem so stoked and happy. I cannot imagine what you have gone through, and the process of remaking your life that you are now in, and I am often amazed that you are able to maintain your humor and ability to find happiness in small places. Keep it up fatty, hopefully life brings you more rides with pros, a few more bikes, and a continued drive to help with the cure, for which you have done so much.

  93. Comment by Eric | 12.17.2009 | 3:37 pm

    Great post, Fatty. Very cool that you’re going to be on The Story. You deserve the attention and accolades.

    Here’s a link to the live streaming page of Jefferson Public Radio. (I’m the Program Director here.


    We carry The Story at 3pm Pacific Time on our News & Information Service. Everyone is welcome to connect when your segment is on.

  94. Comment by Sprocketboy | 12.17.2009 | 3:38 pm

    This is certainly something you’ll never forget, Fatty, and it was so great to share the experience with you. It will be even better to share it with your kids at ToC!

  95. Comment by Saso | 12.17.2009 | 3:39 pm

    Doesn’t get much better than this.

  96. Comment by Elaine | 12.17.2009 | 3:57 pm

    What a thrill, in so many ways.
    Now…about the California Tour…I will assume-since you are held in such a high place of honor..you can choose your tour leg, and location. I would like to suggest you insist on the Santa Cruz leg of the tour.
    For several reasons:
    1-Keep Santa Cruz Weird is the local matra
    2-Great biking community year round
    3-Fun for the family-beach boardwalk,parks, and surf
    4-Photo Ops Galore
    5-Amazing dining
    6-Second year the leg has come through, and first year that it will stop!
    7-We love Fatty

  97. Comment by Scott Mares | 12.17.2009 | 4:03 pm

    Great job Bro!


  98. Comment by Ken | 12.17.2009 | 4:15 pm

    I’m sporting an ear-to-ear grin reading this. Allez Fatty!

  99. Comment by bike girl | 12.17.2009 | 4:20 pm

    Hey Fatty, you’re going to get a lot of pressure now to fundraise for this, that, and the other thing. Don’t pimp yourself out, just stick to what you yourself love and can get behind! And don’t forget, also, that we’re here because we love the inspiration we feel after hearing your story, your personal story… and that comes from your sharing your story with us. Representing causes is great, but we’re also here to follow YOU — the bike world celebrity blogger. I hope you don’t feel pressure to fundraise for more than you intended to.

  100. Comment by Haven (KT) | 12.17.2009 | 4:23 pm

    Awesome. Those pictures are so incredible. I’m so happy that you had such a good time, and that Team Shack is so generous to you and your family– riding in the team car!! Man!!

    Sounds like the pros have more fun than we think, at least on these kind of rides. How long was the ride, start to finish?

    And PS to Lance: it’s not polite to tweet when someone is talking to you. It’s disappointing that you couldn’t put the phone down for a few minutes while Johan was introducing Fatty.

  101. Comment by Mountain Goat | 12.17.2009 | 4:24 pm

    Well done. Hope this becomes an annual thing!

  102. Comment by Bisso | 12.17.2009 | 4:26 pm

    Please forgive me for getting a little poetic, but the photo of you climbing solo is kind of a symbol for 2009 for you.

    you’ve faced some serious mountains this year and at times probably felt like you were all alone. You never were of course, on the mountaint you had the runner et al, and for the rest of the year you had friends family the core group and we the loyal readers…always at your back or on your wheel.

    More power to you, Fatty.

  103. Comment by Bexi | 12.17.2009 | 4:28 pm

    ahhhh this whole story is soooooo surreal, i LOVE it, lol there’s nothing quite as crisp as the sound of many cyclists clipping their cleats in at the same time :)

  104. Comment by Flying Ute | 12.17.2009 | 4:28 pm

    How fast were those guys riding? Compare them to the core team members.


  105. Comment by Mountain Goat | 12.17.2009 | 4:34 pm

    Just watched the video. You must have been a complete bundle of nerves at the start. Well done again.

  106. Comment by Lori | 12.17.2009 | 4:41 pm

    I knew him when.
    Bravo, bro.

  107. Comment by Mindy | 12.17.2009 | 4:43 pm

    Great story and memories! Can’t wait to read about the Tour of California when that happens.

  108. Comment by Isela | 12.17.2009 | 4:44 pm

    Amazing! The story just brings us to the climb with you. It is a dream come true to ride with the pros and to be considered one of the team for a day. Really neat Fatty!

  109. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 12.17.2009 | 4:54 pm

    So GREAT! Love the solo shot going up Mt. Lemmon. Never doubted that you would go to the top – you’ve faced tougher than that this year.

    Love the “real” Lance comments. Oh, and glad you didn’t crash into anyone!!

  110. Comment by Heather D. | 12.17.2009 | 5:02 pm

    This made me so happy for you I kept welling up with tears.

  111. Comment by Mark W | 12.17.2009 | 5:09 pm

    Awesome. Did u have chance to talk to Cody Campbell the U23 Livestrong kid from Canada?

  112. Comment by Heidi | 12.17.2009 | 5:15 pm

    What Neca said–I’m so glad you’re kids were invited to ToC too. How cool is it that they have that to look forward to?

  113. Comment by MeganRN | 12.17.2009 | 5:21 pm

    Fatty, you rock – I love reading these stories about your “epic” ride. Thanks for allowing us to live vicariously through you!

  114. Comment by rod | 12.17.2009 | 5:26 pm

    love this story! congrats on all the money raised. keep up the good work.

  115. Comment by Penina | 12.17.2009 | 5:29 pm

    Inquiring minds want to know…
    Did you bring a basket and handlebar streamers for the bike you brought along???

  116. Comment by Nick | 12.17.2009 | 5:36 pm

    I am about to vomit with happiness for you. Yep, it’s possible. That is amazing.

    Also, a question about the team shot: With his recent history why wasn’t Chris Horner wearing a helmet on the climb? If I were him I would be wearing a Kevlar body suit. Maybe it’s just me…

  117. Comment by Beth | 12.17.2009 | 5:49 pm

    very cool; what else is there to say?

  118. Comment by Bruce Bebow | 12.17.2009 | 6:15 pm

    Lance complained about your pace. You can’t top that…

  119. Comment by Flahute | 12.17.2009 | 6:40 pm

    It’s amazing what one driven man can accomplish (not talking about LA here). Many thanks from those of us whose lives have been affected by cancer.

  120. Comment by ann | 12.17.2009 | 6:42 pm

    Ahhhhh – the metahphor, it’s all about the metaphors.

  121. Comment by Donald | 12.17.2009 | 7:16 pm

    Fatty, again… great effort and great story. Love the read… the video and the pics. Thanks again for all you do to spur so many others to help in this fight!

  122. Comment by Accident Prone | 12.17.2009 | 7:37 pm

    Yea Fatty!! Great stuff! Such a fantastic tale. Can’t wait for more video and pics. Those are some amazing shots! And forget your quads, pretty nice calves in that last one.

  123. Comment by Miles Archer | 12.17.2009 | 7:42 pm

    That is so incredibly cool. What an experience.

  124. Comment by kentucky joe | 12.17.2009 | 8:20 pm

    I am monitoring the interwebs for the breaking story about the “Rogue Blogger who set the blistering pace up Mount Lemmon” causing a rift among Team RadioShack as apparently there is support that you should be riding a bike in the TOC instead of in the car!
    Great Story, photos, video…simply amazing.

  125. Comment by Joel P. | 12.17.2009 | 8:46 pm

    So glad you got to experience such a well deserved epic adventure and so proud to be a part of the team/family that got you there. On top of that two great causes benefitted, well maybe a third, we your readers seem to be feeling pretty good too.
    Joel P.

  126. Comment by Faye | 12.17.2009 | 9:12 pm

    Okay I admit it, I actually got a little teary reading this. So happy for and proud of you.

  127. Comment by Kerri | 12.17.2009 | 9:19 pm

    I was one of the crazy girls cheering for you up the climb of Mt. Lemmon. My sister and I were so excited when we saw you in the distance- I’d know that jersey any where! You’re such an inspiration and you totally deserve your wonderful weekend.

  128. Comment by TimK | 12.17.2009 | 9:29 pm

    what a great feeling to have played even a minor role in making such a wonderful story come to life. You never cease to amaze and inspire.

  129. Comment by peterfish | 12.17.2009 | 9:41 pm

    speechless I am.
    Only a big grin on my face tells my emotions and thoughts :)

  130. Comment by Jen | 12.17.2009 | 9:42 pm

    THIS IS AWESOME! Congratulations! This must have been so much fun.

  131. Comment by roadrash | 12.17.2009 | 9:43 pm

    I don’t know about the rest of the readers here… but when I’m zoned in on a long ride, I sometimes imagine that I’m riding in a pack with Levi, Lance & Chris. And Fatty has done exactly that. Talk about living a daydream… Well done, well done!

  132. Comment by Jamieson | 12.17.2009 | 10:27 pm

    What a great write-up Elden. I’m proud of you for your efforts as you rode with the guys.

    I’m glad to have been able to ride with them through the power of your story.

  133. Comment by Lindsey | 12.17.2009 | 10:48 pm

    The lone climb picture is amazing. Reading about your Tucson adventure is one of my favorite parts of the day! Way to hang with the pros.

  134. Comment by Michelle | 12.17.2009 | 11:21 pm

    I must say that this is one of the coolest blogging events I’ve ever read about. I’ve loved every installment. You’re an amazing guy Fatty!

  135. Comment by ChefJT | 12.17.2009 | 11:24 pm

    Can’t seem to stop smiling after reading about the entire weekend. Dying because the video cut just as you guys were going out. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

    Fight like Susan
    Give like Fatty

  136. Comment by nickel | 12.17.2009 | 11:25 pm

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s read your blog for a while now who has a wife with cancer. We’ve all cried for you this year, and now we get to weep a little in joy and live vicariously in what must have been an incredible time. Thanks to all your readers for contributing, and thanks, Lance & Johan for giving our hero the thrill of a lifetime. Looking forward to the ToC!

  137. Pingback by Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for December 17th « Texbiker.net | 12.17.2009 | 11:53 pm

    [...] Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Riding With the Shack, Part III … by fatty This is also the video where Johan Bruyneel and I present the giant checks for LiveStrong and World Bicycle Relief. If you missed the first installment of this series, check it out here. The Ride Begins. I always experience an odd moment at the … [...]

  138. Comment by Powerful Pete | 12.18.2009 | 3:14 am

    Most excellent fatty. Great write-up for what is the secret dream of every other rider in the world… a training day with a pro team!

  139. Comment by Guy | 12.18.2009 | 4:57 am

    Awesome post, cant wait for the next video! Go Fatty!!!! Good on you for finishing the climb!

  140. Comment by olej | 12.18.2009 | 5:21 am

    There’s a next part of the vid on Johan’s youtube page. :-D

    Good job Fatty giving Lance a push. He did not look too fresh ;-))))


  141. Comment by Mark | 12.18.2009 | 5:57 am

    What a great story. I LOL’d a lot.

    Pretty funny seeing a picture of you with Ben King. We used to ride together in Perth and know each other pretty well.

    It’s great to see him developing into a that sort of class.

  142. Comment by fedunski | 12.18.2009 | 6:00 am

    What a great story all around win, win, win. One could think that this is all part of some publicist’s strategy, but who cares! Fatty get’s a great memory, the blog gets some PR, Team Radio Shack gets free PR from all sorts of media, a few people get fantastic new bikes, smiles are put on many readers and cyclists faces (even though they are not quite as big as Fatty’s), and best of all, money was raised for great charities.
    Hats off to everyone, Blog readers and donators, Fatty, the LS and RS teams and especially Johan for turning what could have been nothing but a letter, into something special.

  143. Comment by Team RideLikeAGirl | 12.18.2009 | 8:19 am

    Fatty – A few things.

    First, wow. I really don’t know anyone that I feel deserved this more then you, and I haven’t even met you yet. I can understand you being impressed with Johan, however you now are my hero. I was so impressed with your humbleness, your gratuitous attitude and your genuine warmth.

    I want to echo what @Bisso said. The photo of you alone on the mountain brought tears to my eyes. It appears you have climbed a really long, steep mountain in the last few years – but just as on Mt. Lemmon with the team car, you were never alone. Although you’ve had some difficulties, you truly are a blessed man with all that know & love you. Seeing that picture really signified for me what this last year was like for you.

    Johan disappointed yet me again. With all he has to oversee, I think he sometimes misses the little details that mean so much. @Bruce Bebow caught it, as did I. When a cyclist can cause a rider such as Lance to complain about the pace, that ‘has’ to say something about his cycling skills. Johan may have seen it as an unability to properly pace for a climb of that magnitude, but I saw it as amazing strategy, given the circumstances you were dealing with. The ability to strategize under that amount of pressure impressed us yet again. Couple that skill with your huge quads (hey, I have huge quads, too.), ability to master a 25 miles climb like Mt. Lemmon and the tenacious attitude you bring to your training, I feel any pro team would be fortunate to have you.

    Having said that, please remember, when all the excitement dies down, we are still very interested in having you join us for our first training ride, in January. We just recently purchased a black riding skirt just for the occasion, in your size. Unfortunately, we were unable to match the TheFatCyclist orange on such short notice.

    Since you did such an excellent job with your fundraising, we have decided to cover your transportation costs & put you up in our mansion (ok, maybe it’s just a really big house)for the weekend. We’ll even consider covering the cost for the runner, as well. She won’t even need to wear a skirt.

    Get back to us at your earliest…

    A. Veronica Petralia
    Executive Director & Head Coach
    Team RideLikeAGirl

  144. Pingback by Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e97v5 | 12.18.2009 | 8:23 am

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  145. Comment by Bryan Mitchell | 12.18.2009 | 8:45 am

    I have only been to your blog a few times but will be a regular now.
    Dude, you are awesome for what you did!!!!!!!!!!!

  146. Comment by John A | 12.18.2009 | 1:24 pm

    I didn’t read all of the comments. But, the most amazing thing in the pictures is the guy in blue riding with no hands up the hill.

    I hate to say you have been blessed due to the hardship you’ve endured; but, on this day, you were.

    Well deserved!

  147. Comment by John H | 12.18.2009 | 2:28 pm

    Hey Fatty
    I’m sure you had a great time and you made it happen with a goal we all could reach. Riders are wonderful and caring people and it shows.

    Sure would be great if Team Radio Shack had a Fat Cyclist logo on their jersey’s to show how much other’s do care.
    Thanks for allowing us to be part of this great and wonderful experience.

  148. Comment by Mike Roadie | 12.18.2009 | 3:51 pm

    And you laughed at my idea for a white 2010 kit! Ha!

  149. Comment by Tobin in Davis | 12.18.2009 | 5:23 pm

    Well done Fatty – you did everyone proud. Well deserved, and even better executed.

  150. Comment by bewert | 12.18.2009 | 5:24 pm

    Nice to see The Story is interviewing you. I emailed them about you Thursday or Friday before you went to Tucson, telling them my story was nothing special, but yours was truly special. I can’t wait to hear the interview.

    PS You’ll do fine. Just like you did riding with the big boys.

    Keep the rubber side down.

  151. Comment by SM | 12.18.2009 | 6:03 pm

    Now Fatty. I am right with you here with the whole Lance Armstrong/Livestrong/Johann Bruyneel/et al fan club and all.

    But did you really have to use such a cycling phrase as, “Putting me in the surreal position of sucking Lance’s wheel.”

  152. Comment by Jen Gatz | 12.18.2009 | 6:26 pm

    Dude, seriously, some of the best blog posts ever written. I have totally enjoyed reading every adventure of yours during this amazing weekend that most people could only dream of.
    Keep up the great work for cancer and humantarian efforts,
    Jen G

  153. Comment by Lorie | 12.19.2009 | 1:39 am

    Way to go! So totally proud of you! You are one hell of a nice guy! :)

  154. Pingback by WHAT A DAY!! WOW!! | 12.19.2009 | 7:48 am

    [...] of riding with the team, a link to the video (part III in the series) from his ride with the team (post here) and possibly the greatest few lines any amateur American cyclist can every say – I learned later, [...]

  155. Comment by Howard | 12.19.2009 | 11:57 am

    Thanks Fatty. I am thrilled, envious, and excited for you all at the same. I’m also about to dust off “The Greatest Bike Never Ridden”, hook it up to the trainer and get my big butt off the couch. Thanks for the inspiration and a great read.

  156. Comment by Aaron | 12.20.2009 | 3:46 am

    Well done mate! Great read!

  157. Comment by eric | 12.20.2009 | 5:11 am

    great story !

  158. Comment by Jake | 12.20.2009 | 9:27 am

    Good for you Eldon. Way to go!

  159. Comment by skippy | 12.20.2009 | 12:56 pm

    tried sending a thankyou earlier!
    “FATTY you are a STAR!

    thankyou to all your team and you of couse,you have inspired me enormously and so i have translated a lot of saved material into a blog


    when you have time send me the link for my blog so that people who do not yet know of you and your efforts and i doubt that there are many will have the pleasure of following your exploits in 2010.

    those interested in helping “physically challenged sport” can find me on
    skippi@ausi.com & twitter.com/skippydetour

    Once again congratulations to the team on a job welldone .

  160. Comment by John The Lawyer | 12.20.2009 | 3:02 pm

    I can’t think of a better reason for rooting for Team Radio Shack than this post. You truly deserved this ride, and what the TRS riders did just shows what a class act they are. Not just Lance, all of them. Thanks for sharing!

  161. Comment by Eryn | 12.21.2009 | 6:53 pm

    Hey Fatty, After following this story and watching the vids. I have to say you killed it and soooo deserve everything you achieved. Although it wasn’t my experience, your experience has made my year!

  162. Comment by Jim Miller | 12.24.2009 | 12:09 am

    AS a photographer I love the photo of you riding up the mountain alone shot from behind. That had to be one great ride

  163. Comment by Tony K | 01.19.2010 | 10:38 am

    Awesome! You rock Fatty!

  164. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Help Me Help My Sister Help Her Son Get a Kidney, Win a Bike (or THREE!) | 02.23.2010 | 11:39 am

    [...] It’s the Trek Madone, powered by SRAM Red components, I won for my ride with Team RadioShack. It’s been ridden exactly once. [...]

  165. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Tour of California Stage 7: Backseat Driver Report, Part I | 05.24.2010 | 7:12 am

    [...] With the Shack, Parts I, II, III, [...]


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