Fatty Goes to France, Part V: A Conversation With Andy Hampsten

09.22.2011 | 5:00 am

201109211300.jpg A “Last Chance to Win” Note from Fatty: You’re almost out of time to donate to win a trip, a signed yellow jersey, or a full kit in Levi’s GranFondo. In fact, you have to donate by Sunday.

So, let me give you some reasons why you should donate.

  1. The Causes are Awesome. Forget Me Not Farm. LiveStrong.VeloStreet’s Cycling Initiatives Program. And more.
  2. Levi’s GranFondo is Awesome. Someone’s going to win a VIP trip for two to Levi’s GranFondo: airfare, lodging, the Festa del Fondo, the group ride with Levi, and the GranFondo itself. The Hammer and I got to do all this last year, and it was awesome. I guarantee that whoever wins this is going to come back saying, “This was the best event I have ever been to.” Because that’s what I said. And I’m never wrong.
  3. The Other Prizes are Awesome. You could win a full GranFondo kit. Or a yellow jersey from the Tour de Suisse, worn by and signed by Levi Leipheimer.
  4. Levi Himself is Awesome. Consider all the photographs I’ve recently posted of Levi, either in headlocks or giving headlocks. Watering plants or taking a nap in his yellow jersey. How do you think I got those? Yep, by asking for them. I’ve said things like, “Hey Levi, while you’re at the Tour, could you get a photo of you putting some top pro in a headlock?” And he’s responded by saying, “How about Jens Voigt?” He’s played along, without worrying about public image or directing me to his agent or anything like that. Levi is just a good guy with a great sense of humor. Who also happens to be freakishly fast on a bicycle.

You might win something. Something awesome. Probably not, but you might. Hey, someone’s going to. Regardless, please donate. Thanks!

Fatty Goes to France, Part V

Sometimes, plans change. For example, The Hammer and I had planned to go on a run during our trip’s “rest day.” I mean, it seemed silly to us to have a rest day after just four days of riding.

As I mentioned, plans change.

After our monster ride from Aix-les-Bains to La Grave the day before, a rest day — no ride, no run, lotsa sleep — sounded great.

A (Rambling) Conversation With Andy Hampsten

The highlight of the day was when I got to sit down and have a conversation with Andy Freaking Hampsten, winner of the Giro d’Italia and owner of Cinghiale Cycling Tours.

It’s a free-flowing conversation, which is why I call it a “conversation” instead of an “interview.” Except I guess I call it an “interview” in the video intro, but that was stupid of me.

Anyway, it’s a longish chat (34 minutes), but I enjoyed it. And I hope you will too.

Cleverly, I’m posting this video on a Thursday, so you have today along with several non-posting days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) to watch every glorious moment of it.

Other Stuff We Did

After four days of riding, it was nice to lounge about for a day, as if we were on an actual vacation.

Here are some of the things we did.

We ate.

We at most of our meals on the hotel’s deck. You can kinda see why.

We stared at the incredible scenery.

No matter where you went, the stark, glacier-capped mountain dominated the view.

We toured the town (accidentally, because we got lost, because neither of us has anything that remotely resembles a sense of direction).

This is, pretty much, the whole town.

The archway to the old church. A beautiful place with an extraordinary mountain backdrop.

OK, for reals this is the whole town.

We even rode a tram to the glacier and took a tour of an ice cave.

I did not like looking down when riding this thing. Both ways — riding up and riding down — I sat so I could be looking up.

I’m going to be honest with you here: Glaciers look better from far away.

Sure it’s a tourist trap. We’re tourists. We’ve been trapped. May as well take photos.

When this penguin thaws out, it’s going to be even more awesome.

It’s a good thing we rested up, because the next day (which I’ll be talking about in Monday’s post), we’d be riding the Alpe d’Huez.

And I made no secret about the fact that I was wanted to hit that sucker hard.

PS: Here’s The Hammer’s Letter for this day.

Our good luck with weather couldn’t last forever could it?

Last night as we were preparing for bed the thunder and lightning commenced and the rain began to pour from the sky. It pretty much rained all night. It’s now 0930. We were supposed to start riding 30 minutes ago, but we decided to hold off until 1000 to see if the weather would clear up.

As I’m typing the rain has stopped and the sun is trying to poke its head out from behind the clouds! So I have approximately 30 min to tell you about our fabulous rest day.

Wednesday was the rest day, and that is exactly what we did. We lounged around in the morning and took a look around this cute little ski village. We actually got lost wandering around, which is hilarious because it’s not a very big place.

Elden and I were looking the wrong way when we walked right by the hotel. We then wandered blindly up the street and through the crazy maze-like streets of La Grave. We eventually came out at the high end of the village at an old church. There was an old cemetery surrounding the church–pretty cool!

We found our way back to the hotel in time for lunch. This French cuisine is wreaking havoc on Elden’s and my intestines! I’m looking forward to returning to my egg white and avacado diet!

After lunch, Elden interviewed Andy Hampsten. Andy is our tour guide. He is a retired pro cyclist who has won the Giro d’Italia and a stage on the Alpe d’Huez in the tour of France. He is a really cool guy. I was the videographer. The interview took place on the patio of our hotel with a great view of the Alpes behind them! Elden intends to use it on the blog, so stay tuned.

After the interview, Elden and I took off to catch the last tram of the day. La Grave is a ski destination with a tram that takes skiers up to the top of a glacier!

Talk about EXTREME skiing! it makes our ski resorts look like little mole hills! It took 45 minutes and 53 Euros ($70) to get to the top AND back down. (You have to pay for the trip back down too!)

The tram ride was incredible, the views spectacular as you left the trees and ascended above the treeline onto the glacier! We also bought entrance into a snow cave in the glacier. It was pretty unique. We got some pretty cool pix of ice sculptures inside the cave.

When we got back to the hotel, we joined the group as they listened to Andy tell stories from his biking days. The stories were amazing. It was fun to hear about racing from a biker’s perspective!

At 7:30 we met for our 3 hour dinner. No joke–it takes forever to eat here! We had soup, followed by chicken with boiled potatoes, followed by a course of cheese and finally dessert–a pink mousse dipped in dark chocolate.

Then it was off to bed….and the start of the rain!

Believe it or not….. The rain has stopped and the sun is shining! I’ve got to run–I have an Alpe named Huez to climb!!


  1. Comment by Rob Mance | 09.22.2011 | 6:03 am

    hey Fatty! let me be the first person, today at least, to say you were truly ‘living the dream’ on this trip, I am captivated by every single word, and the photos, wow! One day…

  2. Comment by gian | 09.22.2011 | 7:40 am

    “I’ve got an Alp named Huez to climb” HAHA! Awesome!

  3. Comment by Dillon Bikes | 09.22.2011 | 8:29 am

    I have really enjoyed reading about your trip. It has made me dream of vacations I would love to take. I even booked a room in the NC mountains for next month. (Clearly not as extravagant but it will have to due for now)

  4. Comment by NYCCarlos | 09.22.2011 | 8:33 am


    Awesome writeup… will post pics of the new jersey later!

  5. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.22.2011 | 8:46 am

    So Fatty We now have the Hammer’s great stories (with excellent one liners), Paul and Bucky and their posse of stars, and any number of past ‘Proudest Moments on my Bike’ contributors. You may find yourself reduced to just introducing the writer d’jour (that’s French BTW), which will give you more time for riding….Oh! I see the plan.

  6. Comment by Clydesteve | 09.22.2011 | 9:39 am

    I like your perspective on getting ripped off as a tourist, Fatty. I am generally too cheap to drop my gaurd ans fully enjoy a tourist attraction. Well done!

  7. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.22.2011 | 10:08 am

    Notice how Fatty’s picture of the town includes the sign for “coiffure” Fatty/Coiffure/Irony?

  8. Comment by a chris | 09.22.2011 | 10:25 am

    Ha, I have many of the same photos from our one night in La Grave. We didn’t stay to go up to the glacier though. Didn’t know you could!

  9. Comment by Joe in San Diego | 09.22.2011 | 10:31 am

    If you click on Andy’s website and let the photos scroll, The Hammer and Mr. The Hammer have their photo featured.

  10. Comment by Brent | 09.22.2011 | 11:46 am

    I am getting so freaking tired of reading about the freaking French trip that I am so freaking jealous of, I’m not sure what to freaking do.

    Hey Fatty, how about you put up a freaking mp3 audio file of your interview with Andy Freaking Hampsten so that those of us who actually have to go to freaking work every day (that’s not to say actually freaking working, but just the going to work part) could listen to it on our way home in the car?

    (freaking) Cheers!

  11. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.22.2011 | 11:54 am

    Andy’s Website pictures: It looks like France rather hard on the two of them… and when did Fatty start wearing a Rapha Jerseys?

    1. It does?
    2. I didn’t.
    - FC

  12. Comment by Dan in Sac | 09.22.2011 | 12:15 pm

    What scenery! France’s department of tourism owes you one. This series of posts is the best commercial ever for making me want to visit more than just Paris. Too late to work out a quid pro quo with France’s DOT?

  13. Comment by Arizona Guy | 09.22.2011 | 12:24 pm

    Reading your blog entries and enjoying your photos is so much more cost effective than actually going myself. This is great. Could you please send me some random packs of matches, hotel soaps and perhaps a wine cork or two? I’ll toss them in a drawer, and when I rediscover them in a few years I can say ‘Look honey – here are some matches from our cycling vacation in France!’

    Also – I’m assuming Hammer buys exclamation points in bulk??

  14. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.22.2011 | 1:13 pm

    Fatty- They’re wearing helmets and smiles. I recognize the glasses. You mean it’s not you????

    My bad.

  15. Comment by Bikemike | 09.22.2011 | 1:22 pm

    They have a different word for everything over there, don’t they?

    “‘Chapeau’ means ‘hat.’ ‘Oeuf’ means ‘egg.’ It’s like those French have a different word for everything.”

    I can quote the early Steve Martin albums in their entirety. Still. – FC

  16. Comment by roan | 09.22.2011 | 6:52 pm

    Great pics. “…no secret…wanted to hit that sucker hard.” At 1st read I thought it was the penguin, then realized you were talking d’Huez but I know probably both. Good thing you didn’t pick on the penguin because there is another one above and behind The Hammer. It would have thawed real quick.

  17. Comment by bob | 09.22.2011 | 7:26 pm

    Did you sit on the ski lift next to a guy whose name was Rental?

  18. Comment by Tom Stephens | 09.23.2011 | 8:18 am

    I like the Hammer’s comment about how long it takes to eat. My Family spent 17 days in Germany and France this past summer. That was one of the most striking differences we saw… No one rushed us at meal time. That is an incredible understatement…. Our 5 year old had fun playing at the beer garden swing set while we finished eating. This happened almost every day.

  19. Comment by The Flyin' Ute | 09.23.2011 | 12:16 pm

    Great interview. Good work! For sure made my Friday a bit brighter.

    I specifically loved the description of the difference in roads between the US and Europe and how all the goat paths developed over time into these famous climbs.

    I can’t wait to ride them someday.

    Yeah, I’m already trying to figure how I can go back sometime. Really pricey and time-consuming, but worth it. Vacation of a lifetime for a cyclist. – FC

  20. Comment by Dave M | 09.23.2011 | 12:46 pm

    I sat and watched the entire interview last night. Great stuff. I’ve been following you from the beginning and it’s amazing how far this blog has come. Byt he way I got my new FC jersey from T6 yesterday, it’s like Christmas in September.


    I just got mine yesterday, too. Gonna wear it for the first time in the Ogden XTerra race tomorrow. – FC

  21. Comment by DanO | 09.23.2011 | 5:15 pm

    Got my 2012 jersey today.
    Thanks for the suprise full zip! Old School look is AWESOME. Well done Twin Six and Fatty

    Life is good

    I know I say this every year, but I really think this may be the best FC jersey ever. And I loved the full zip surprise, too! – FC

  22. Comment by Justin L | 09.23.2011 | 7:11 pm

    Never had the desiree to go to france, but after reading your trip, it is on my bucket list. Awesome, I am hoping to get my FC gear before levi’s gran fondo, not looking good. One week away, no shipping email yet, bummer. My other jersey is shot. Lets hope.
    BY THE WAY FATTY, WHERE IS A REVIEW OF THE NEW HONEY STINGER STRAWBERRY WAFFLE. They should of gave you the hook up already. I love Honey Stinger.

    To my dismay, I haven’t yet tried a Strawberry Honey Stinger Waffle. Hoping to really really soon!

    You should email Twin Six and let them know why it’s important you get that jersey by whatever day you need it. They’re very good about special requests like that. – FC

  23. Comment by nuts | 09.24.2011 | 4:45 am

    I finally found the time to watch the video today. Seems like you really did have fun here in Europe.
    I love the “what I say becomes the truth” line!
    Thanks for sharing that video which wasn’t all that shaky-surprisingly since normally the camera movement of your videos makes me slightly dizzy ;-)


    What’s really amazing — to me, anyway — is that you can now take a pretty good video using nothing but your phone. The Hammer just sat in a chair opposite, her elbows on the armrests, and patiently held that phone there for 35 minutes while Andy and I talked. Credit for the non-shakiness of the video goes to her. – FC

  24. Comment by Orbea Girl | 09.24.2011 | 6:36 am

    The French rightly believe that food shouldn’t be rushed. Instead, it should be savoured and enjoyed.

    I’m sure that’s true. As I believe I have mentioned, I am a yokel. An especially uncultured one. – FC

  25. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 09.24.2011 | 8:47 am

    I GOT PIE! Thanks Fatty.

  26. Comment by Justin L | 09.25.2011 | 2:44 pm

    I did email twin six about my jersey order and the reason for me asking. They said they should ship by then, but here we are Sun Sept 25. only really four days to receive it with no shipping email in sight. Really a dissapointment.

  27. Comment by Justin L. | 09.26.2011 | 12:11 pm

    My order is on the way this morning, cross my fingers.


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