San Jose LiveStrong Challenge Report

07.16.2010 | 9:24 am

A Note from Fatty: Tomorrow’s the Tour de Donut, and it’s not too late to register, though the event will definitely sell out today. Come ride and pig out with The Runner and me tomorrow! Read details here, and go register here.

201007160918.jpg A Preface About Today’s Story from Fatty: Matt Chapek is the Co-Captain for Team Fatty San Jose. Matt is also one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I’m not just saying that because he gave me a monster pull at the Austin LiveStrong Challenge last year. I’m really proud of the work Matt has done as the Co-Captain of what is undoubtedly the toughest LiveStrong Challenge to raise money for (it’ s just a few weeks after the Seattle event, biking news is dominated by the tour, and everyone’s out on vacation). Matt’s positive attitude is as inspiring as his metabolism is envy-making. Enjoy his story!

Matt Chapek’s Ride Report

Saturday was our fun-day to just hang out at the LIVESTRONG venue and absorb the vibe, and I have to say that the addition of the Team Tents this year was nothing short of brilliance on somebody’s part.

I set up a small barbeque and had a cooler full of tasty bevarages available. The tents were set in a nice grassy area literally right across the street from the LIVESTRONG products trailer. I had my Tour of California “Team Fatty” banner up on our tent so there was no problem finding us, and we got even a pretty good amount of attention from non Fatty members that know who Fatty is and stopped by to say hi (which is great, as I’m always on the lookout to recruit new members for next year).

Yann, Karen, Angie, Matt, Andrew V & Jeff at the tent.jpg
(Yann, Karen, Angie, Matt, Andrew V and Jeff at the tent)

Team members filtered in and out all day as we hung out in the shade, and if they had an appetite and time to spare I’d make them a picnic lunch of burgers and chips.  

The Pre-Ride Dinner

About the time the village was wrapping up for the evening we also had to close shop, as I was to be attending the Award dinner along with Yann Bertaud, Karen Lorentson and Angie Gibson (Yann and Angie were the only two members on our team this year to earn tickets, with Karen and I as their guests…well done to you both!)

The dinner was very tasty actually, and was extremely well organized (I even went back for a 2nd full plate using my only superpower: making food dissapear without a trace). After dinner we had the guest speakers, who were both LIVESTRONG guys…one was Lance’s good friend and one of the actual founders of the LAF, and the other was a guy high-up in the organization (I can’t seem to remember their names, sorry. I’m just terrible with names).

They had a nice back and forth banter describing what the LAF is actually doing, how they do it, future plans, and why they need our help. During this banter the awards were presented, and I’m sad to report that Team Fatty San Jose didn’t get any this year. Team Spike the Dog and Team AntiOxidants beat us out in both the Team Champion and the Team Time Trial. It was a hard-fought competition and we were close, but I think Team Spike was not very pleased losing to us last year and that gave them the needed extra momentum. After the dinner we wandered around meeting members from the other teams (who I again saw during and after the ride).

In the Chute

The ride was a blast, and was once again the best organized and well-staffed cycling event I have ever been associated with. A gigantic tip of the hat goes out to the entire LIVESTRONG organization! ClydeSteve, I’m happy to report that we had awesome weather the entire day. You Seattle folk should consider a road trip next year….(just a thought).

Anyway, I had totally planned on a relaxed, easy start this year being as we were not awarded Rock-Star status with head of the line start priveleges. However, the amount of riders was barely half of last years total. As we lined up in our chutes I think there were only about 8 or 9 of us Fatties in the 100 mile group…with the rest of us scattered in the other chutes.

Fatties in the chute.jpg
(Fatties in the chute)

And it turns out we weren’t really THAT far away from the very front and the police vehicles that would pace us thru the city (just a few hundred people were actually in front of us is my guess).

Gotta Go

When the horn went off and the mass of cyclists slowly started to move forward and gain momentum, the ‘chase’ instinct in me went into high-gear and I just HAD to get into that front group! How often do you get the chance to race thru the streets of a city just behind a police escort? This insane speed-up/slow-down at every intersection chase goes on for about 12 miles when the escort finally pulls off and we resort to the Rules of the Road.

The ride itself was punctuated with lots of aid stations with incredible volunteers at each. I’ve never seen so many cheerful volunteers and short lines…and the variety of food was staggering. At every stop the volunteers would be thanking us for what we were doing! The San Jose Sharks hockey mascot was again at aid station #1…though I heard he slunk away in quiet shame when Angie asked him why the Sharks keep losing in the playoffs.

And there was no devil on the route this year, which was a huge loss as he was awesome last year (he’d move aorund to various points of the ride, and if you asked him a question he’d lie…being as the devil is the great deciever). And somehow again this year it was one of our Fatties who had jersey # 666, which is eerily coincidental.

Metcalf (Hell) Hill

And everybody who has done the 65 or 100 mile routes in SJ knows about the dreaded Metcalf Hill at mile 69. This is a lovely 1.8 mile long slice of hell covered with pavement. It’s so steep that really strong riders are able to go straight up in their granny gear, albeit very slowly.

More moderate riders might still somehow go straight up, although coming to a near complete stop with each pedal-mashing stroke as the top of the hill keeps receeding into a tunnel-vision blip at the end of the cave of pain. And many are reduced to a paper-delivery style climb (back and forth across the road) or just realize the insanity of this hill and walk it.

Those equipped with a triple chain-ring rule on this particular climb. It’s probably the steepest hill of any distance that I’ve ever climbed on a road bike, and somehow seemed even steeper and longer than last year. I heard that 3 years ago (San Jose’s first year as a LIVESTRONG event) when Lance was there, he rode it and commented afterwards, wondering who put a hill like that 2/3rds of the way thru a recreational ride.

After Metcalf it’s a little over 25 miles of survival to the finish, with the last 15 being back on city streets including all the lovely stop signs and stoplights.

I personally can’t recall when I’ve been so happy to see a finish line, as I suffered greatly during the last third of the ride due to my boneheaded sprint at the front for the first 10 miles. And although not as hot as last year, it did still get pretty toasty, slipping into the mid 90’s when we got to Hell Hill.

I recall sending out a mental thanks to Fatty and Twin Six for making the 2010 jerseys WHITE! I can still vivedly recall the cooked goose feeling last year in the all black (yet O-SO-AWESOME LOOKING) 2009 jersey. And throughout the ride it seemed that any time I’d encounter a Team Spike member they would say “Look…a skinnny Fatty!” I personally consider myself an malnourished Clydesdale, thank you very much.

Anyway, our entire team did great, and to the best of my knowledge we had no crashes or injuries this year, and only a few flats. Well done team!

Lastly, I want to thank THE TEAM! As was discussed during the Awards dinner, cycling is a team sport. Well, so is fighting cancer. One of the first things in the LIVESTRONG guide that you are supposed to do after being diagnosed with cancer is to assemble your team. As Fatty’s Co-Captain, I was again blessed with the most awesome team at the event! By my count we had at least 25 team members who showed up for the ride on Sunday from all over the state. I truly enjoyed meeting, spending time with, and most importantly: wheel-sucking off of you, as so many of you helped to drag me to the finish line at some point in the 1000 miles…er, 100 miles I mean…(it only FELT like 1000 miles).

The event was a great success!

One Final Thought

I implore all of you to continue fundraising as if you are going on to Austin, whether or not you have any intention of doing so. The reason we are doing this is to fight cancer. Cancer isn’t taking a break until next year. Just because our event is over doesn’t mean that the fight is over. In fact I think the fight has just begun. We have our team(s) assembled. Collectively we can kick cancer’s ass, but it’s going to be a long fight.

We can do this!

It was once again an honor and a privelege to be Fatty’s Co-Captain, and all I can say is wait ’til next year! We are going to spank the Dog (Team Spike) and give cancer a swift kick to the head at the same time!

Until we meet again Team SJ, stay safe, keep the rubber side down, and keep the dollars rolling in. Team Philly, the ball is now in your court.

Game on!


  1. Comment by randy | 07.16.2010 | 9:45 am

    Nice work!

  2. Comment by Chris | 07.16.2010 | 10:53 am

    Hey I’m famous! Thanks Team Fatty SJ for a fantastic day, especially to Jeremy and Jeff. The three of us managed to hang together for the whole 100 and it really felt great riding in a team. We picked up and dropped (sorry!) Angie at the last stop and Andrew picked up and drop us with about 10 to go. This meant a nice stream of pink Team Fatty kits coming through the finish line. We even got a call out from the announcer as the three of us crossed the line. I’m already looking forward to next year!


  3. Comment by AnneJuliet | 07.16.2010 | 11:45 am

    Sounds like and AWESOME event! And speaking partly on behalf of Philly…we are working hard to make you proud!

    If anyone is in the DC area and enjoys pints of tasty beverages, please join come to a happy hour benefiting Livestrong (and Team Fatty)! We even have a $100 gift certificate up for grabs from Big Wheel Bikes!!! It promises to be an awesome time.

    Oh, and I’ll be behind the bar as a guest ‘bar-tender’ so at the very least, come laugh at me.

    JULY 20
    The Mighty Pint
    1821 M Street NW
    Drink Specials


  4. Comment by Jeremy | 07.16.2010 | 12:27 pm

    What Chris said! This was my first century ride and I don’t think I would have made it though without the company…and that pack finish with both of you guys was great! The 666 bib Jeff pinned on was funny until he flatted with 8 to go. Curse of the 666 bib I guess!

    The “fatties in the chute” picture above has all three of us in it..I’ll be keeping that one around to remember the day and I hope to see you guys next year!

  5. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.16.2010 | 1:06 pm

    Great report, Matt – And great job Team Fatty San Jose!

  6. Comment by Eric L | 07.16.2010 | 1:16 pm

    It was a lot of fun, especially as I grew up in SJ and got to ride through my old neighborhood of Willow Glen.

    Matt hit the nail on the head with respect to Metcalf Road. It was the steepest hill I think I’ve ever been up. …and humbling too. Knowing I still had 30 more miles to go, I swallowed my pride and hoofed it up about half the second part of the climb. The words “what do I need a compact crank for?” kept going through my head as I got passed by riders with compacts and triples.

    It was an absolute thrill seeing all those Fatty jerseys and a treat to meet the other folks on the team.

    Thanks for all your work Matt!

  7. Comment by Andrew V | 07.16.2010 | 1:24 pm

    Woo woo, we totally dominated the Livestrong Challenge in San Jose for the second year running! I had a blast. It was great to see everyone again. Can’t WAIT until next year’s event.

    Like Matt said – the rest of you, seriously consider making the road-trip to SJ. This event is not to be missed!!

  8. Comment by Miles Archer | 07.16.2010 | 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the write up. I had to miss it this year, your story had me remembering Metcalf hill from last year.

    Last year, the devil was on the hill about half way up saying that it was almost the top. Never trust the devil. He lies.

  9. Comment by don | 07.16.2010 | 1:54 pm

    Although I only did the 65, I gotta say Boy Howdy to the Metcalf Rd comments.

    Great to meet the other Fatties out there.

    Thanks Matt!

  10. Comment by Philly Jen | 07.16.2010 | 3:46 pm

    Woo-hoo, MattC and Team Fatty San Jose!

    Love the stylin’ pix. You all are awesome.

  11. Comment by MattC | 07.16.2010 | 6:58 pm

    Thanks for the extremely kind words Fatty! And good luck in the tour de DONUT! I think I could give you a serious run for your money in an event like that! How fun it sounds (right until you hurl anyway)! Good luck and be safe! I’ll anxiously be awaiting your glazed-over take on the ride, just don’t leave any HOLES in your story!

  12. Comment by Jenn | 07.17.2010 | 1:26 am

    Well done, Matt & Co.! Ride on!!

  13. Comment by Heidi | 07.17.2010 | 9:59 am

    YAY Team Fatty San Jose!

  14. Comment by Jeff | 07.17.2010 | 7:00 pm

    I’ll echo Chris and Jeremy’s comments. It was great riding with a couple of great cyclist. It made the miles just fly by. With their help I finished the century in record time (for me). Also, I’ve done a lot of tough climbs, but Metcalf was by far the most grueling and hellish climb ever. Ouch. Well worth it though.

    Thanks Team Fatty!

  15. Comment by cece | 07.18.2010 | 4:42 am

    Hope to join you next year. I did not think I could get race ready from my shoulder surgery. But next year is a good possibility! Hell hill sounds like our heartbreak hill here in New Mexico…with switchbacks and a 17% grade. What is the grade on hell hill?
    Congrats on a great day!

  16. Comment by cyclechic | 07.18.2010 | 11:51 am

    I agree Metcalf was rough. But last year I sagged up and this year I was able to donkey breathe my way to the top. It was great to see all the fatty jersey’s out there and I can’t wait to do it again next year!!!

  17. Comment by Annette L | 07.18.2010 | 8:08 pm

    Comment totally not about the race or about biking–

    Just had to pop over after reading about it on Camille’s blog (Make It Work Mom)–I almost fell over seeing your picture there and knowing immediately that I was staring at Veli Gumby.

    I remember seeing an article you wrote for Creating Keepsakes (about hyperventilated from laughter–and felt uber cool that I knew the author).

    Anyway, Terve from President Luthy’s daughter–who now lives in AF. Way to inspire so many people with your blog!

    I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. That breaks my heart.

    You always were one of my favorite office elders. :)

  18. Comment by AngieG | 07.19.2010 | 8:29 am

    I have to concur with the other Team Fatty SJ commentors. The ride this year was absolutely crazy amazing. All the Fatty’s did greatr!! Metcalf was a beast. It’s all about the gearing baby!!! Last year I flatted about a third of the way up and had to walk part of it because I couldn’t get started again. This year I made some serious gearing changes and boy did they pay off. I dropped into the super granny and climbed right up it. The best part were the fans that lined the road shouting out support and the few that brought water to dump on you to cool you off.
    As Chris said, I hooked up with him, Jeff, Jeremy and Andrew at the last rest stop and tried to hang, but they were just too fast. No worries though it was great to to watch everyone stare after them as they blew by everyone else in the awesomest Fatty paceline ever.
    Unfortunately Sharkie was a little bummed that I brought up the playoffs. But come on, as a loyal Sharks fan a girl’s gotta ask what’s up. I thought Sharks had tough skin? Apparently not tough enough to handle making the playoffs year after year after year after year and not making it to the Cup finals.
    MattC was a super awesome Co Captain!! He worked very hard to make our Team tent the best one. Matt’s right, our fight is not over. We need to keep fundraising as best we can.
    It’s now Philly Jen’s turn.

    Go Philly Go!! FLS


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