A Note from Fatty: Due to me wanting to get this contest off the ground, this week’s weigh-in will be postponed ’til tomorrow. K? Thanks!
I’d like you to adopt a contemplative mood for a moment.
You there? No? OK, I’ll give you another second.
Ready now? Good.
And what I’d like you to contemplate is the following: If you could choose a country to ride your bike in for a week, and then choose one person to guide you on that tour, where would you ride? And who would be your guide?
I humbly submit to you that your first choice should be Benjamin Franklin, on a tour of France (as opposed to the Tour de France, for which he would be totally unqualified).
I understand that Ben really knew Paris in particular, and could tell you stories — both about France and the US founding fathers — that would make your jaw drop.
Plus, it’d be awesome to get photos of Ben Franklin and you riding bikes together, and then try to convince your friends that it wasn’t a Photoshop.
However, if I were to ask you to restrict your choice of person to someone who is living, you could not do much better than having Andy Hampsten — yeah, the winner of the 1988 Giro d’Italia and founder of Cinghiale Cycling Tours — take you on a tour across Italy.
And guess what? By helping Andreas Knickman in his fight against cancer, you may get exactly such a tour (the one with Andy, not with Ben).
Here’s a little bit about Andreas. which I am stealing from his CaringBridge site:
At the end of April, 2009, Andreas began complaining of pain in his left leg above the knee. He had been skiing and cycling alot, and we thought this was an orthopedic issue. After participating in a local bike tour, we took Andreas to the orthopedic surgeon for x-rays. Nothing was found, so 4 weeks of physical therapy, ice, and ibuprofin were prescribed; then an MRI if pain hadn’t dissipated.
Andreas participated in a backpacking trip, and pain had decreased, so we thought p.t. was helping… in fact, a tumor had broken out of the bone, which can relieve pain. Three weeks after seeing the orthopedist, at a routine visit to the pediatrician, Andreas was advised to get the MRI as soon as possible. The MRI was scheduled, and in the meantime Andreas went on another backpacking trip, and participated in a computer tech camp, walking miles every day at UCLA.
On July 6th, the day the MRI was approved, the scan revealed a mass in his left distal femur; within 2 hours he was admitted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. At the age of thirteen, on July 8, 2009, Andreas was diagnosed with metastatic osteosarcoma (bone cancer).
A single, marble-sized tumor was also found, and removed, from his left lung. Andreas completed 18 chemotherapy treatments, and surgery to remove the tumor on his leg on October 2, 2009. The femur was replaced with a Compress prosthesis and artifical knee. Pathology on the tumor returned at 75% necrosis; clear margins. MAP chemo treatment was completed Feb. 28, 2010, with no evidence of disease.
Andreas is obviously engaged in a tough battle, and Andy Hampsten wants to help. I think his reason why is very inspiring. Here’s what Andy told me:
I meet Roy Knickman when he was a junior racer, he joined my Levi’s/Raleigh team when we were amateurs through our pro debuts on the Levi’s team and then with the La Vie Claire team in 1986. Later we raced together for the 7-Eleven team.
A better friend or teammate does not exist.
Roy is married to Deb and they have two sons, Andreas and Bo. They live in Thousand Oaks, California, where Roy works for the Paso Robles fire department as a fireman.
Recently Roy had exhausted his allotment of days off from his work to be with Andreas during his second round of chemo. Roy went to the firehouse to tell his boss he would need to leave work to continue caring for his son, and regretted leaving such a great workplace behind. His boss told him to sit tight for a while and came back 45 minutes later to tell him his coworkers had pooled their vacation and sick days to Roy’s credit, and he now had 265 consecutive days off to take care of his son.
Since my own coworkers did something very similar for me when I was taking care of Susan, you can imagine that this really resonates with me — I love the way people get creative and find ways of helping each other during what would otherwise be impossibly difficult times.
And now Andy wants to help his friend and his friend’s son out by lending some much-needed financial support.
What You Can Win
Honestly, this story is compelling enough on its own merits. I mean, think about it: A former pro cyclist now puts his life at risk regularly in order to help other people. And now his son has cancer, and they need help. Then a legendary Grand Tour winner asks you to help him help his friend, for a cause you already care deeply about.
Well of course we’re going to help.
But then Andy sweetens the deal, by offering up an unimaginably cool prize: some lucky donor will get to join him on one of his Cinghiale bike tours of Italy (or France, depending on the tour the winner chooses).
Andy Hampsten started Cinghiale Cycling Tours 1998 two years after he retired from professional bike racing. Andy lived in a small country house in the Tuscan hills, fell in love with the local culture of making food and wine and enjoying it with family and like-minded friends.
Andy and his wife Elaine welcome cyclists and food/fun/wine-driven guests for 5 trips a year to their favorite corners of Europe. Oddly enough bikes, wine and great food seem to come from the same places.
The winner will get to select any of the following three trips:
- August 27 to September 4 in the French Alps Peaks, cols, mountains, gorges, wicked descents and pastries. Ride like Bernard and party like Eddy on this trip in France.
- Sept. 10 to 18 is our Cooking and Cycling trip in Tuscany. Their most popular trip. Tuscany in the fall with stunning rides and awesome foods. Oh and you will learn how to cook like a true Italian. Thats a skill.
- Sept. 23 to Oct. 1 is our Cooking and Chianti trip. More mad cooking skills to be taught, but with riding in the Chianti area, then a long day in the saddle to the coast for more fun next to the Med.
All the trips are are 8 nights and 9 days long, and include all costs other than your airfare, personal bar bill, a rental bike if you decide to rent one, and 1 dinner and one or two lunch meals during the week. Cinghiale includes wine with meals, as well as food and drinks during the rides. There really aren’t any other costs once they pick you up from the airport and drop you off 9 days later.
By the way, if you win but none of the 2011 dates work for you, Andy will let you choose a trip in 2012 instead. That should give you plenty of time to plan ahead, I think.
And I should point out that while The Runner and I are not eligible to win, we are going to make a serious effort at joining you on your tour anyway, as regular ol’ paying customers. Because this seems like too amazing of a trip to miss. I’m not sure whether that counts as an incentive or disincentive, but there you have it.
How To Enter
Helping Andreas and getting a chance at an incredible riding and eating tour with a cycling legend is easy. Just click on this PayPal button and donate any multiple of $5.00.
Note that the “purpose” on the PayPal donation page will say “Mike Nosco Memorial Bicycle Ride.” That’s OK; that’s the foundation we’re piggybacking on for this fundraiser.
Be sure, when you donate, to indicate it’s for Andreas Knickman in the comments section.
[Update: You don't need to indicate it's for Andreas Knickman; all donations during the contest period will be going to Andreas. -- Fatty]
For every $5.00 you donate, you get a chance at winning. Then, on December 23, I’ll run a report of all donations, do my Excel spreadsheet magic to extrapolate how many chances your donation gets you, and then use random.org to select a winner.
It’s as easy as that. So please donate now.
When to Enter
This contest starts right now, and ends December 23. That’s only ten days, so don’t put it off.
This is an incredible trip, in an incredible place, with an incredible guide, for an incredible cause. Heck, I’m going to pitch in $25, and I can’t even win.
Questions, Thank You, and Good Luck
If you have questions, please post them in the comments field below. I’ll either answer them inline in the comments field, or if it seems like a question a lot of people might have, I’ll update this post to include an answer.
I’ll also ask Andy to check out this post and try to find time to answer questions directed to him.
Thank you for helping a family in their fight against cancer, and good luck in winning this total dream vacation.