The Voice of Reason Prevails, Gives You a Chance to Win a VIP Trip to Levi’s GranFondo

09.13.2011 | 2:18 pm

Here is the story so far, as it developed yesterday:

  1. Giddy and jet-lagged, I said some things about Levi Leipheimer’s (well-documented) propensity to throw his weight around that some might call outrageous and libelous, if they were all cranky and were spoiling for a fight, I mean.
  2. Levi hired a lawyer that seems perfectly happy to use decidedly unsavory tactics to quiet me.
  3. We found ourselves at an impasse, staring at each other. Giving each other the stink-eye. Wondering who would blink first.

What would happen? Who would prevail? Neither party seemed willing to budge in this epic battle of wills.

The tension was simply too much to bear.

Luckily, a third party has stepped in, acting as a calming influence. A voice of reason. Specifically, the good folks in the staff at Bike Monkey / Levi’s GranFondo sent this letter:



And for those of you who don’t like reading the text in jpegs from scanned letters, here’s the text of what they said.

13 September 2011

Mr. Fat Cyclist, Mr. Levi Leipheimer:

Alright, everyone just take a deep breath.


And out.

Again, in.

And out. Big exhale this time.

That’s better.

There’s a lot of mud being slung here; one side thick with allegations of extortion and abject thuggery; the other piled with thinly veiled threats and intimidating innuendos. This little dance has gone from zero to crazy at a speed that’s no good for anyone. We here at Levi’s GranFondo are butting in before something happens that someone’s going to regret.

Fatty, you’ve stuck your neck out. You felt compelled to expose something you thought was a danger to the sport of cycling and the health of anyone within arm’s (or leg’s) reach of Levi. It was a bold move but, considering what you alleged, you’re kind of nuts. If you’re wrong, you’d have bad-mouthed one of the best riders in the saddle today. If you’re right, then, by your own definition, you’d be in traction, dining via a straw, and blinking one for yes, two for no. You set yourself up for a loss, so you had to see this coming.

Patron, we get it. You’ve inspired a certain…discretion amongst your colleagues and team members. You’ve been very clear about how you’d like things handled, especially when describing the consequences of failure in precise detail. We here at your GranFondo appreciate that clarity and prefer not to ask questions. After all, you said it best yourself just a couple of weeks ago: “Just don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” You then turned a pale green, grunted a bit, and won the US Pro Cycling Challenge.

We just hate to see two guys go after each other like this in such a brazen display. It seems counter productive and someone could get their knees cheekbones teeth feelings hurt. So we’re going to turn this around in the fairest way we see fit.

Fatty, you’re going to be our honored guest at Levi’s GranFondo again. Bring the Hammer. Relax, drink the wine, enjoy the mid-autumn sunshine. Come to our Festa fundraising dinner. Eat. Be merry. Do not lick the auction items, as we agreed last year. Ride your bike at the GranFondo, exalt, smile a lot, etc.

But remember, you’ve abused our trust with your painful allegations. We need to know that you’re still a vested member of the GranFondo community and the best way to do that, of course, is to help us with the primary goal of the GranFondo: fundraising for our charities. We know the kids (and the animals) at Forget Me Not Farm would appreciate it. We’re positive that LIVESTRONG could do some good with any money you could raise. The schools, fire departments, and other programs we support for the communities along the GranFondo route would certainly appreciate it as well.

On our side, because our main man might have given somewhat questionable direction to his legal representation, resulting in a letter that could’ve been construed as maybe a little hostile, we’ll throw in some help for your fundraising push. Let’s say a few GranFondo jerseys by Capo? Shoot, maybe even a couple of full GranFondo kits, from Giro helmets to socks and everything in between? While we’re at it, why not a full ride for two: airfare, lodging, a couple of seats at the Festa dinner, a pre-GranFondo spin with Levi, and two spots in the sold-out GranFondo itself? You’d know what to do with something like this, yes?

There. That’s better. Doesn’t this seem fair? After all, everyone gets something great out of it. Especially you Fatty, since you get to keep your ribs intact.

Win win!


Your pals at Bike Monkey/Levi’s GranFondo

What This Means

So let me get this straight. If I be what passes for nice in these parts, as well as help fundraise for some really great charities, The Hammer and I get to come to the GranFondo? And bring a couple folks from Team Fatty along? And give away some awesome second prizes?

OK, I’m in. Let’s do this.

What You Can Win

The prizes for this contest are pretty simple to explain, really. There’s one first prize (for two people) and two second prizes.

First Place: A VIP Trip for Two to Levi’s GranFondo

You and a guest (Sorry, US Only) get to enjoy all of the following:

  • Airfare to the GranFondo
  • Lodging
  • Tickets to the Festa del Fondo gala and auction (Sept 29)
  • Ride with Levi and a small group the day before the GranFondo (Sept 30)
  • Tickets to ride in the impossible-to-obtain, sold-out GranFondo itself

Second Place:

Two second-place winners will get the super-swank full 2011 GranFondo kit. That’s about a $475 prize, and is guaranteed to make you look exactly like this:


Specifically, you get all of the following:

  • The 2011 GranFondo / Giro Aeon Helmet (below image is the top-of-the-line, $250 Aeon helmet, but doesn’t reflect custom GranFondo design):
  • The 2011 GranFondo Jersey (made by Capo):
  • The 2011 GranFondo Shorts / Bibshorts (made by Capo):
  • The 2011 GranFondo Arm Warmers (made by Capo):
  • The 2011 GranFondo Cycling Cap (made by Capo):
  • 2011 GranFondo Socks (made by Capo):

How To Enter

Want a chance at winning a trip to ride in the GranFondo? I thought so. It’s easy. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the Team Fatty Fundraising Page for the GranFondo.
  2. Donate any amount, in increments of $5.00.
  3. For every $5.00 you donate, you get a chance at winning either the first or a second prize.
  4. The contest begins now, and ends Midnight (PT) Sunday, September 25. I’ll notify winners on Monday.

Sorry, but all prizes are available in the US only. What with customs and the logistical issues of trying to fly someone here from Lithuania in time. You understand, right?

Why You Should Enter

There are a couple of really good reasons for you to enter this contest. The first, of course, is the possibility that you’ll win a trip to Levi’s GranFondo. Which is an amazing experience, with fancy food, and an incredible ride. With breathtaking scenery.

Apart from that, though, is the fact that Levi’s GranFondo does a lot of good for a lot of people, and when you donate, you’re doing a lot of good too. Your donation goes to benefit all of the following:

  • LiveStrong: What could I say about LiveStrong that I haven’t said ten thousand times before?I’ve seen firsthand the good that it does, and I’m really pleased that Levi’s GranFondo is supporting it too.
  • Forget Me Not Farm: Forget Me Not Farm helps thousands of at-risk children and youth break the cycle of abuse.
  • Local help: The GranFondo helps local schools, cycling programs, emergency services and community services.

So, whether you win or not, you’re doing something good for someone who needs it. That’s awesome.

So please, donate. Maybe you’ll win something awesome, and for sure you’ll be doing something good.

And you’ll probably help me avoid having Levi punch me in the throat (again).

PS: Tomorrow I start up with the France trip storytelling. Honest.  


I Just Heard From Levi Leipheimer’s Lawyer

09.12.2011 | 1:22 pm

Earlier today, I posted “An Open Appeal to Levi Leipheimer’s Sense of Decency.” Imagine my surprise when a couple hours later, I saw this in Twitter:


I assumed this “response,” if any, would be in the form of an email, or a comment in my blog. But then about half an hour later, Leipheimer tweeted this:


Exactly one minute later (suggesting these actions were coordinated), I got a knock at my door. I answered it, and I got served the following letter, which I was required to sign for.

(Scanned letter below, transcribed version follows):




And here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. Fatty,

This law firm represents Levi Leipheimer and we have been directed by our esteemed client to write this letter to you. Many of your statements about Mr. Leipheimer in your blog postings are untrue, defamatory, and sufficiently vicious as to suggest you have a serious death wish. You made them maliciously to injure Mr. Leipheimer in his trade, office, and profession. As such, they are defamatory per se, and generally aggravating to the conduct of our client’s rarefied profession. Under the California Civil Code, Sections 44 through 48, this letter constitutes a demand for immediate retraction in writing of these false and libelous statements. Or else we make a little visit to Utah. And we bring the chihuahuas. Don’t pretend you don’t know exactly what we mean.

In accordance with the aforementioned statute, Mr. Leipheimer demands that your retraction and correction be accompanied by an editorial in which you specifically repudiate your libelous statements. Such an editorial better be sincere, you stinking rat, because we’re not asking again.

Your web postings and conduct also constitute tortious interference with the business and contractual relations of Mr. Leipheimer. As such, they are actionable and expose you to the imposition of compensatory as well as punitive damages. By damages, we’re referring to the propensity of smart-aleck bike-bloggers to fall down stairs and get hurt. Real hurt.

Below, we have noted some of the more patent, malicious, and libelous comments made by you on your blog. We are also in possession of sworn statements from Mr. Leipheimer’s “colleagues” regarding your general lousy, snake-belly no-goodness. Best we figure, some of these evidence your tortious interference as well. If Mr. Leipheimer is forced to file suit to stop your wrongful conduct, he will also seek an award of his attorney fees and litigation expenses, on top of a tooth or two, just to make sure the memory sticks.

1. In your posting of September 28, 2008 (, you suggest that my client had a endorsement association with The Ultimate Cyclist Sports Hypnotism CD Series. This is completely fabricated and the further ancillary suggestion that my client was under the influence of a unique Spanish brand of this product during the 2008 Vuelta de Espana is deeply damaging. Your allegation that he was uncontrollably clucking like a chicken and mooing like a cow at a press conference indicates that someone needs to teach you the meaning of respect, you bastard.

2. In your posting of August 11, 2010 (, you condescendingly and with considerable sarcasm disparaged my client’s ability to successfully operate a mountain bike on a long-distance course at high altitude in Colorado. While my client assumed your sincerity and responded in kind, his reputation and ability to excel as a cyclist constituted mental anguish, hampering his performance that day. That said, he still nailed that race, set a course record yet to be broken, and was having a brandy by the fire when you drug your sorry keister across the line.

3. In your posting of October 7, 2010 (, you are photographed licking a premier auction item that was to be sold at the stunning and exceptionally glamorous Levi’s GranFondo charity auction to benefit a variety of youth-based and cycling-forward beneficiaries. The Trek Madone in question was an actual Team Radioshack frame and fork that was rendered useless due to the corrosive effect of your reptilian saliva on carbon fiber. Should my office file suit, we will be seeking damages to cover this loss as well. We’ll skip snapping a pinky finger this time, since you clearly were raised in a cave by a pack of dogs who never taught you manners.

4. In your posting of October 10, 2010 (, you accused my client of bearing the responsibility of an unsightly divot in your forehead after his most amazing 2010 GranFondo cycling event. My client is a man of deep feeling and was quite hurt by this suggestion, especially when it’s clear that this was the result of your inability to install the helmet cam on your own big head.

5. In your Vimeo posting of September 8, 2011 (, in conversation with Andy FREAKING Hampsten, you suggested that my client goes around “punching people in the throat,” including Ibis Cycles founder Scot Nicol. While this is clearly a malicious allegation with no basis in reality, I will advise my client to punch you in the throat as soon as possible.

6. In your posting of September 12, 2011 (, you forgo all previous restraint and issue slanderous and libel speech in such volume as to render it unreferenceable in this limited space. Suffice it to say, my client is four-alarm pissed and you are about to enter a world of pain. Ask Jens. He knows.

While this is indeed the first actionable correspondence from our office to your attention, we fully expect you to repudiate the above statements in a sincere apology and editorial. The nature of the above statements satisfy the requirement of malicious speech under California Civil Code, Section 44 and 45, further adding to civil damages and criminal penalties Mr. Leipheimer and the State of California may seek against you.

My client is a stone cold honey badger and the idea that a mole like yourself would even stick his head up from his dank burrow only proves you just want to get whacked. As a guy who’s felt the “Leipheimer embrace,” I’d have thought you’d have more sense.

If you do not immediately publish the requested retraction, and cease and desist from tortious

interference and making false and malicious comments about Mr. Leipheimer, his officers, and his programs, we will file suit against you, for starters. Please govern yourself accordingly. Or we’ll do it for you, you putz.

Sincerely yours,

Frank “The Necktie” Ragano

cc: Levi Leipheimer, Scot Nicol

I’ve started my response to Misters Ragano and Leipheimer several times, but I just don’t know what to do. Should I give them what they want — a retraction and apology? Should I pretend that my original post was satirical and therefore protected by free speech? Should I tell Levi that I’ll be nice, but only if he gives me an awesome bribe?

I don’t know. But I expect I’ll have to reply soon. Any ideas on how I should handle this?

An Open Appeal to Levi Leipheimer’s Sense of Decency

09.12.2011 | 12:01 am

A Note from Fatty: Huge thanks go out to Paul Guyot for his extraordinary guest-posting for the past couple weeks. I now look forward to the next time I head out on vacation not just for the sake of the vacationing, but for another chance to have Paul write here. Paul (and Bucky), thanks!

Dear Levi,

I have been in France for the past couple of weeks, riding with The Hammer and Andy Hampsten. It was a fantastic trip and I have a lot of stories to tell. In fact, I had hoped I would be able to begin telling those stories today.

But I can’t. Because this simply cannot wait.

You need to face the facts, Levi. And the facts are that while others in the pro peleton are content to use their legs to do the talking, you have adopted considerably more brutal tactics to facilitate your “win at any cost” mindset.

Choke-holds. Kidney punches. Strong language expressed in a loud voice at inopportune moments. It’s as if nothing is off-limits to you.

201109091754.jpg Oh, don’t go and give me that innocent look, that “Hey I weigh 112 pounds and spend my free time smiling next to cute little doggies” face.

That face doesn’t fool me for one second.

And judging from that look of terror in the little dog’s eyes — notice the way it’s doing its level best to look away from you — it’s not fooled, either.

You may look like a friendly, unassuming pro cyclist, but the evidence of recent public events, photographic evidence, and my experience all tell a very different story.

A very different story indeed.


I remember — all too clearly — the events at the Festa del Fondo last year that gave me the first inkling of your strategy of force and intimidation that is now all too clear.

I was walking around, meeting people. Eating an occasional h’ordeuvre. Signing autographs. Enjoying the ambiance.

And then I heard my name called. “Hey, Fatty!”

It was you, of course. Smiling. Always smiling. “Come on over here and let me get my picture with you!” you called, smilingly.

I’m used to this request, so patiently complied. We got that first photo.


I remember registering surprise at the way you sucked in your gut, but said nothing. You were with an internet cycling celebrity; of course you wanted to look good in the photo.

And then, suddenly, I was doubled over, my air supply cut off. My head was being pounded, relentlessly. Noogie after noogie.


The pain was incredible, and — I confess it — I screamed for mercy.

You smiled and tightened your grip. And the noogies kept coming.

My agony was such that I nearly blacked out. Just look at me, for pity’s sake.


Is that not the face of agony? I submit that it is.

Finally, as my knees were about to buckle, you released me, shoving me away. “Take it easy on the h’ordeuvres, would you?” you sneered (while somehow still smiling). “Other people might want some too.”


My next set of evidence of your brutish behavior is much more severe, and reveals the scope of your reign of terror over your fellow professional cyclists, both within your team and without.

Let’s consider the 2011 Tour de France.

Team RadioShack started the Tour with approximately nineteen GC contenders, of which you were one.

First, Brajkovic conveniently exited the race. And then Chris Horner crashed out. Mysteriously. How curious that we all saw the aftermath of his crash, but not the crash itself.

And how surprising that his concussion has rendered the events surrounding the accident rather fuzzy.

Oh, and then there was Kloden. Kloden, who everyone was supposed to get behind and work for.

Kloden, who retired from the race with a “sore back.”


From four GC guys down to one. And who was that one? Levi “All Smiles” Leipheimer, that’s who.

When you consider all this, is it any surprise that you’re no longer wanted on Team RadioShack, Levi?

But it wasn’t just inside Team RadioShack that you were beating up on others, wasn’t it? Here you are with a rider some have called one of the toughest men in cycling, Jens Voigt:


I tell you, Jens should have started running as soon as he saw that smile. Instead, he hung around, and before long, you were up to your old tricks:


That poor guy never had a chance. Oh, and your smile here looks positively sinister.

Additional Evidence

As I have mentioned, Levi, I have spent the past couple weeks in France, riding in France. While there, I got a chance to interview Andy “Freaking” Hampsten, a former pro cyclist of some renown. The entirety of this interview will be presented later this week, but for now, I think this part is pretty telling:

Clearly, Mr. Hampsten was too afraid to come right out and say it, but I think it’s pretty clear that he’s afraid of the repercussions of admitting that he — like all too many others — has been punched in the throat by you.

201109091712.jpgPlease, Levi, seek help. Your anger issues are quite obviously severe, and only getting worse.

If your unchecked aggression remains … well, ummmm … unchecked, who knows where it will eventually lead?

Will you one day smile as you spin-kick Phil Liggett?

Will you smile as you strike Andy Schleck with a blackjack, thereby quite likely breaking him in half?

Will you someday snap entirely and yell at one of the pot-bellied pigs in your petting zoo?

Frankly, I shudder at these thoughts, and hope never to find out.

Do the right thing, Levi. For others. For yourself.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

Why I Ride

09.8.2011 | 10:26 am

Note: While Fatty is cycling away in France with ANDY FREAKING HAMPSTEN, Paul Guyot has been guest blogging for him.

For my final post here I wanted to get a bit more serious. Not a lot, but some.

First, I want to thank Elden for letting me come into his house and roam around, play with everything, raid the fridge and just be goofy. He is a first-class human. More on that later.

Second, I want to thank all of you. Seriously. You made these two weeks fun, and to be honest, when I accepted the gig, I was slightly terrified. I write stuff that millions of people see each week, but writing for Fatty and Team Fatty is true pressure. Anyone can write a good post here or there – but to do it day in and day out, year after year as Fatty does – well, I could never do that.

And an extra BIG thank you for all the kind words about Bucky. He loved his 15 minutes and hopefully we’ll see a lot of you in Utah next year.

So… this cycling thing is new to me. As mentioned, I only started riding in January of 2010. Since then I’m on my second bike, spent way too much $$ on gear, have had a serious mtn bike crash, done a couple of centuries, lost a bunch of weight, and became completely addicted.

I’m addicted to the pleasures of riding. Seeing, hearing, smelling things you cannot experience in a car.

I’m addicted to the health aspect of it. Addicted to the weight loss. If they’d only lock up the people who make fried food I’d lose even more weight. But it was tough in the beginning. I had to be convinced. I had to be inspired.

One of the first blogs I came across was the Amazing 39 Stone Cyclist. Who is now the Former 39 Stone cyclist. For those that don’t know – 39 stone is equal to 546 pounds. That’s what he weighed. 546 pounds. His doctor said he needed surgery or he would die. So what did he do?

He did not have surgery. He started riding a bike. A lot. And he lost weight. A lot. Now he is a local hero and motivational speaker in Great Britain. He’s won awards. And he continues to push himself. Check out the photos on his blog – if you want your mind blown. His name is Gary Brennan. I call him Gaz. And he’s one of the major inspirations on my early rides where I was learning to push myself.

I also ride because of Fatty. I found this blog in February of 2010 by googling “cycling” and “fat” together. I had no idea who Fatty was, but I was entertained by his writing, and then I became moved and inspired by his story of Susan. Everyone one of us knows what it means to Fight Like Susan.

Though Fatty and I have never met face-to-face I call him a friend. I believe he is one of the most generous, kind-hearted and dedicated people I know. I’m not sure all of you truly grasp the amount of time and effort he puts into this blog and his fundraising. And he does it all for nothing. Sure he gets some SWAG now and then, but when you do the math, he is basically doing all this for free. And a lot of people take it for granted.

I also ride for my job. As a writer, a lot of my “work” time is spent thinking. Imagining. Observing. Making up crap. Riding a bike has been the best muse I’ve ever had. Being outside just flat feels better than being inside. Being healthy feels better than not being healthy. And when one is feeling better, one is thinking better, and thus – I’m a better writer now because of cycling than I ever was before.

But what I ride most for is the suffering. I’m addicted to the suffering. I love the pain. I love the agony. I love it because I know what’s on the other side. I love it because I know – when I don’t quit, when I don’t give up, when I push through the pain – the feeling afterward is unlike anything.

I joked yesterday about what I’ve learned on the bike. Well, the single greatest thing I have truly learned on the bike is what Ken Chlouber from Leadville preaches every year.

You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.

I have not ridden Leadville. I could not. Yet. I have done nothing like it. A lot of you have not, and could not. But…

We can all DIG DEEP. We are all better than we think we are, we can all do more than we think we can.

This is an absolute truth. I have not ridden Leadville, but I have experienced exactly what Ken preaches – I have learned from the past year and a half on the bike that I can do WAY more than I thought I could. I am WAY better than I thought I was.

And so are you.

That is why I ride. To push myself. To be better. To do more. To dig deep. To hurt. To suffer. And then come through the other side. When I ride there is no red carpet at the end, no buckle, no photographers. It is just me and my bike. But the feeling is the same.

Whether it’s the 100 miles of Leadville, or whether it’s the 6% hill at the end of your neighborhood – You Can Do It. You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.

My son knows it now. A lot of you know it. And the rest of you will know it. I promise you.

Lastly, Fatty’s blog led me to Livestrong which I’ve already talked about here. And I now ride for Livestrong and the 28 million. This is the part where I post a link to my Livestrong fundraising page and ask you to donate. And tell you that you could win a new Trek Livestrong bike courtesy of Trek.

But, wait. There’s more!!!

In the spirit of all of Fatty’s great fundraising contests, the prize pool has just increased. In addition to the Trek Livestrong bike being given away, and in addition to the second Trek Livestrong bike that will be given away if I hit $10,000, there is a NEW INCENTIVE:

If I hit my fundraising goal of $10,000 one lucky donator will win a VIP VISIT TO THE SET OF TNT’S LEVERAGE – Currently being shot on location in Portland, OR.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness first-hand the magic of television. Mingle with writers, stars and dolly grips! Eat your own weight in snacks from the craft service table.

TERMS: Based on availability and to be scheduled at a mutually convenient date, you and a guest will have a 3-hour visit to the set of LEVERAGE. Please note that due to production scheduling restraints, most likely you will have approximately a two-week notice to book the trip. You will liaise with a production representative to work out all the logistical details. Airfare, transportation, and accommodations not included. Must be redeemed within calendar year of 2012. Cannot be transferred, re-auctioned or resold. Must be at least 18-years of age to redeem.

For every $5 you donate you will get one chance at the raffle for this amazing prize. Prize to only be awarded if I hit hit the $10,000.00 goal. So dig deep. Give hope. Be courageous.


Once again, thanks for putting up with me. I know we are all looking forward to the return of Fatty and his stories of France, and getting this blog back on track.

PS – thanks to everyone who donated to my Livestrong page!

What I’ve Learned From Riding My Bike

09.7.2011 | 2:40 pm

Note: While Fatty is cycling away in France with Andy Freaking “Yes, THAT Andy Freaking” Hampsten, Paul Guyot – proud domestique of Bucky – is guest blogging for him. Don’t worry, it’s almost over.

I’ve learned that German Shepherds can run more than 25mph… but let’s get to that later.

As cyclists, there are certain rites of passage we all must go through, including:

Our first flat miles from home.

Our first time getting dropped on the group ride.

Our first sufferfest – when we realize this cycling thing can actually be painful.

Our first encounter with a nasty motorist.

Our first crash. Yes, folks, it will happen – for there are only two types of cyclists: those that have gone down and those that are going to go down.

Our first time being chased by a dog.

Let’s back up a sec. To that last one there.

Being chased by a dog.

Raise your hand if you’ve already experienced this one. Go ahead, it’s okay, your co-workers will just think you need the restroom or have a question.

Okay, quite a few of you. Well, not me. Not once. Ever. Until now. Let me set the stage for you…

After weeks of intense heat and humidity I awake to find a morning in the low 80’s with even lower humidity. I stand out on my porch looking at the cornflower blue sky and the still leaves, and say, “I christen thee Metric Century Day.” I like to say “I christen thee.” Makes me feel fancy.

I will ride 62 miles on this beautiful day. I will travel roads I have not yet ridden. I will see things I have never before seen on previous rides. I will never take the flat road when there’s a hill to ascend. I will climb like an angel. An overweight, under-trained angel with an anvil tied to each wing, but an angel nonetheless.

I dress in my Ride 2 Recovery kit, pump up the Gatorshells underneath The Goat – that’s what I call my new bike – The Goat. Because it climbs like a goat, and is The Greatest (bike) Of All-Time. I pack my center pocket with a Honey Stinger waffle (I actually do eat these all the time), and fill my right pocket with Gu – have I mentioned while house-sitting for Fatty that I love Gu products?

I know everyone has their fuel of choice, and for me it is GU. IMHO – which stands for In My Heavy Opinion – Gu gels and especially Roctane gels are the best. They pack as much (and usually more) sodium and potassium (life blood for cyclists) than any other product, have far less sugar than most, and they taste yummy. Except for that Jet Blackberry disaster. Whose idea was that? I’d rather chew broken glass on my ride.

You don’t have to carry pills or tablets to drop into your water because all the fuel you need is in the gels – but if you want liquid Gu they offer Gu Brew – which is the second best endurance drink out there – second only to Gu Brew RECOVERY – which is the absolute best recovery drink on the planet. I know because I am still alive after my 100MON.

But I digress.

So I roll out ready to tackle 62 miles of newfound roads and climb at least 3,000 feet. Yes, people, 3,000. I am NOT Fatty, who needs at least 9500 feet of climbing to break a sweat. Did everyone forget my 100 Miles of Nowhere debacle?

I head out of my neighborhood and twelve miles into the ride I get giddy on the bike. Yes, I physically, literally get giddy. Not to be confused with jiggy. I got giddy as I turned right where I have always turned left and started exploring uncharted lands.

I cranked along a nicely paved two-lane that gently rolled through a wooded area with almost no houses anywhere. I saw deer and turkeys and turtles (I got them all off the road), and heard birds I had not heard before.

I found some new hills and rolled up them like Tommy D. Bucky would be arching his eyebrows at me right now if he were reading this. “Seriously, Dad?” Okay, not like Tommy D – but like Tommy D in the context of me. The Hill Slug.

This was going to be one of the best solo rides I’d ever done. I kept riding, 20 miles. 30. 40.

I discovered at one point I was rolling along part of the original Route 66. How cool is that?

Then I saw a little road marked Woodland Meadows Road. I remembered from my scouting of Google maps that morning that the innocuous little Woodland Meadows twisted and turned and wound its way around, only to come back out on the very Route 66 road I was on. Perfect! Add an extra few miles, an extra few feet of climbing, and get right back on my route.

I pedaled along Woodland Meadows, such a lovely little road, let’s say it together; Woodland Meadows. Sounds like a retirement home. A few houses, but zero traffic, and no sounds but nature. I love the sounds of nature.

I came around a curve on little innocuous Woodland Meadows and saw the road went up. Way up. Great! Let’s climb, baby!

I shifted my Ultegra compact into my next-to-last climbing gear (is that a 26, gearheads?) and started to climb. I glanced at Hal 9000 – that’s what I call my Garmin Edge 500 (that I have thanks to Fatty suggesting to my wife she give it to me for my birthday last year) and noticed the gradient was steadily going up.

Way up.

12%… 15%… 19%… whew, this is tough, but I’m feeling good. I’m loving the suffering… then little innocuous Woodland Meadows turned tightly to the right, and stopped being innocuous and little. Instead it became Woodland Meadows – the Gateway to Hell. And to start our journey to burning death the gradient jumped to…

30%… then 33%…

It would top out at 38%. I know this because as I was walking The Goat up Woodland Meadows I had plenty of time to read my Garmin.

UPDATE: Please see the comments section for updates on the great gradient debate.

I finally got to the summit, breathing as hard as if I’d actually ridden the whole thing. I remounted and began soft pedaling, eating and drinking, and trying to recover.

My mood quickly returned to joyous as Woodland Meadows meandered through horse country. White picket fences, huge yards, and large houses set way off the road. And the lovely sounds of nature returned.

Like a barking dog.

Wait, what? Oh there. A happy little puppy, romping across his big yard… running across his big yard. Fast. And barking. A lot.

I wonder if he’s coming after me? Nope. That happy German Shepherd is apparently just going to run alongside me. About ten yards off the road, running parallel with me now. And keeping up. Wow. I’m doing 23mph and he’s right there. 24… right there. 25… yep, still there.

Apparently, I had forgotten that Woodland Meadows was the gateway to Hell, and what lives in Hell?

Hellhounds. The Hounds of Hell.

One of which is ten yards away from me right now. I stare into its eyes once, then twice, then look back to my Garmin Edge 500. It would only be much later that I would learn if you stare into the eyes of Hellhounds three times you will certainly die.

But running alongside me is not chasing me. He’s just protecting his yard.

And that’s when the Hound of Hell started cutting the angle between him and the road.

If there was ever a big fat doughy cyclist that sprinted as fast as Mark Cavendish after a Renshaw launch, it was me right then. I have no idea how fast I ended up going, but it was faster than I’ve gone on a flat road. Ever. I literally felt the hot demon breath of he Hellhound on my ankle as he made a last ditch effort to devour me.

Once safe, I slowed down, sat up, and laughed. A lot.

I laughed the laugh of the certifiably insane. That laughter that only comes after cheating death. And Hell. I chortled. I cackled. If anyone had seen me, sitting up on my bike, laughing like a hyena on meth, they would have locked me up. And I would not have argued.

You can learn a lot from riding your bike.

Like that German Shepherds can run more than 25mph.

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