A “Start Thinking About Questions You’d Like to Ask” Note from Fatty: Next Wednesday, Johan Bruyneel will be joining us at 5:30PM (ET) / 2:30PM (PT) for a live online chat. Which means you get to ask him questions. Which means you ought to start thinking about those questions now. And also, you ought to make sure to schedule your time so you can be here then, cuz this is a pretty rare gig.
A Note from Fatty About Today’s Guest Author: Paul Guyot is a shrinking Clydesdale who began cycling in January, 2010. Since then he’s logged over 3,000 miles, climbed over 35,000 feet, and lost 33 pounds. He will soon take ownership of his first-ever carbon fiber bike (Project One), and has been told it will be like going from a 1972 Ford Country Squire station wagon to a 1990 Ferrari F40. His goal for 2011 is to ride 5,000 miles and lose another 20 pounds. He will ride in the Livestrong Challenge Austin among other centuries. When he’s not on the bike, he writes for the television series LEVERAGE on TNT.
Christmas of 2009 I was a fat tub of goo. My day job is quite sedentary, and though I was a fan of pro cycling, as well as other activities, outside of golf now and then, I did nothing, but sit and eat. Then my brother – a coach with Carmichael Training Systems – gave me a road bike for Christmas. I had not been on a bike in seventeen years, not since the “Winery Incident.”
Seventeen years prior, my then girlfriend/now wife and I were invited to go on a cycling tour of several wineries. At the first winery, I collapsed onto the floor, exhausted from the treacherous four miles we’d ridden to get there, and proclaimed that I would never again park my tuckus on a bike. I took a cab home. Seriously.
But Christmas of 2009 I got back on. And I began to learn how to ride. How to shift, how to steer, how to eat before, during and after. And as 2010 arrived, a strange thing happened: I became addicted to cycling.
Then I found Fatty’s blog and became inspired. Not only were there health and lifestyle reasons to ride, but I could actually make a difference. I learned what it means to Fight Like Susan.
So after seventeen years of physical apathy, I couldn’t get enough of cycling. In 2010, I rode my aluminum triple crank over 2500 miles, culminating on November 20th, with the EL TOUR DE TUCSON, a 109-mile race.
People told me it was too much. I should start with the 40-miler, or the 66-miler. My sister-in-law, an avid cyclist, told me horror stories of how she vomited over and over after her first “109.”
But by now, I was in love with the suffering. I was in love with getting healthy. I’d dropped over thirty pounds during the year. And though I’d never ridden more than 62 miles in any one ride, I knew I had to do the 109.
Being such a newbie, a friend of my brother’s decided he’d “help” me. Since there were over 4,000 riders, the start could be insane, and the idea was to get away from all the craziness so you could relax and ride. Sounds good to me.
The start of the race is broken up by ability. Platinum riders – those who will finish in under 5 hours are up front. Followed by Gold, then Silver and so on. I felt a little out of place as my brother’s friend lined us up in the Gold section, me with my 21-pound triple crank, and my FAT CYCLIST jersey. “Just stay with me,” was the last thing I heard as we rolled off.
We started, and within the first few miles of my first ever group ride (oh, did I forget to mention that?) I was digging with all my strength to try to stay with him. My Garmin Edge 500 (thank you, Fatty) registered 19, then 22, then 24 mph.
Less than six miles into the race, that was it. I was cooked. I watched my brother’s friend’s wheel get farther and farther away and all I could think of was Tom Hanks in CASTAWAY… Wilson!!!
As I slowed I was being passed by hundreds of cyclists. And my mindset crashed. My outlook sank. I had blown up within the first 6 miles of a 109-mile race, and now I was sure there was no way I would finish.
I was among 4,000 other cyclists and never felt so alone. I began to cry. Yes, I admit it. I was riding my bike and crying. I had built this moment up all year and I had destroyed it within the first six miles.
And then, around the 22-mile mark, a miracle arrived in the form of Team Fatty. From behind me came a voice: “Hey, a fellow Fatty!” And there were two riders in Fat Cyclist jerseys. They asked how I was and I told them I wasn’t going to make it. They told me I was wrong. That I could do it. And they told me to get on their wheel.
And they pulled me for over three miles. Not just to physical recovery, but emotional recovery. For no other reason than we were part of a family. Team Fatty’s family.
A while after my Fatty angels were long gone, I was cruising along, happy to be back amongst the living, when I encountered another Team Fatty member. He was a large guy, very large, and riding a too-small-for-him hybrid as opposed to a road bike. And he was suffering. A lot.
And I was able to pay it forward. I turned back to my fellow Fatty and said, “Get on my wheel, you’ll be okay.” And I pulled him. Just like the others had pulled me. Up a hill and over, to where he finally recovered. And as I turned off at an aid station to refill my bottles, that Team Fatty member looked at me, smiled and said “Thank you.”
I went on the finish the 109. But hearing that “thank you” is my proudest moment on my bike.