Free Verse Friday: Ode to Mountain Biking on a Calm Autumn Morning

10.5.2012 | 9:33 am

12020143_lg.jpgA Note from Fatty: The new Fat Cyclist jerseys and shorts and bottles and hats and everything have all been shipped out. If you pre-ordered any of the 2013 gear, it should either have arrived or be darned close.

And if you didn’t pre-order, well, you’re still in luck. Jerseys, bibs, socks, caps, jackets, vests and bottles are now in stock. In both mens’ and womens’ sizing, in most sizes.

I’m going to come out and say it: I love all my Fat Cyclist jersey designs, but this is the one that is in fact the most slimming.

Plus, there’s that whole neapolitan ice cream thing.

Anyway, I recommend you get yourself one. Or two. You know, maybe a size larger.

Just in case, because — as you know — Winter is coming.

201210031156.jpgAnother Note from Fatty: We’ve gotten a good start on the fundraising contest for the Young Survival Coalition. But just in case you haven’t seen it, you might want to go bone up on what you might win, including:

Read here for details, and click here to go donate. Thanks!

Free Verse Friday: Ode to Mountain Biking on a Calm Autumn Morning

Before I begin my poem, here’s a nice little video (looks better viewed big, though) I made of The Hammer, The IT Guy, and me riding Corner Canyon earlier this week. I think it may in fact be a better ode to mountain biking in autumn than my sparkling prose, if that’s possible.

And now, the poem. In italics, to make it seem more emphatic.

I must beg your forgiveness
For I have dreaded you
As the harbinger of Winter

I speak of myself
For Autumn is the best season
Bar none
For the cyclist

Because I have ridden so much
And training
I find myself sated
Just when the best course arrives

But then!
I get up
And go riding
On a cool morning
And the colors
And the trail  
And the temperature
Help me remember

Yes this
Is why I ride

Thank you.


Fight Breast Cancer, Win a Dream Bike

10.3.2012 | 1:37 pm

A Note from Fatty: If you already know how this works and would just like to get your donation in, click here to go to my donation page. Good luck; I hope you win!

201210031156.jpgWhen I first decided to get seriously and permanently involved in fundraising for the fight against cancer, I had a big decision to make: Do I go fairly general — raise money against all kinds of cancer?

Or do I go fairly specific, and raise money for the fight against breast cancer, which is what Susan had?

I made the right decision — going general — because regardless of where the cancer starts, it’s infuriatingly destructive. I want to partner with and fight for everyone and anyone who wants to work in this fight, regardless of what kind of cancer has affected you.

That said, I have a special place in my heart reserved for hating breast cancer. It’s what got Susan. It’s what got my grandma, so I never got to meet her. My stepmom had it (she’s doing great). It’s what had me scared on behalf of one of my absolute favorite blog-friends very recently (she hasn’t mentioned it publicly here, so I won’t mention her name right now).

And it’s what got Michelle Weiser, the woman who was engaged to my friend, Dustin Brady.

Dustin (you’ll remember him from his incredibly inspirational Ironman story from last year) and I got to know each other during Susan’s and Michelle’s fights, talking on the phone about how our loved ones were doing, treatment status and options, and trading tips on what made Susan and Michelle more comfortable.

By the time we lost Susan and Michelle, Dustin and I had agreed that we’d keep working together in the fight against cancer. Me with my soapbox, Dustin with his awesome access to top-notch incentives.

Which means you have a chance to win an outrageously sweet road bike — a Giant TCR Advanced SL with the all new Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11-speed group with wheels (WH-9000-C24 clinchers) and Dura-Ace pedals. Not to mention some additional amazing prizes.

All for the benefit of Young Survival Coalition, the global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Grand Prize

Michelle worked for Giant Bicycles and Dustin works for Shimano, so it’s little wonder that the grand prize for this contest is a Giant TCR Advanced SL, with the all-new Dura-Ace 9000 11-speed group, with wheels and pedals.

Check out the frame:

TCR Advanced SL.PNG

The frame and fork are an advanced SL-Grade composite, with internal cable routing. The Fork has a full composite OverDrive 2 steerer, the seatpost is a Vector composite.

And in short, this is a pro-level frame. Read more details here.

And then you’re going to build it up with the all-new Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 components and wheels:

9000 group.JPG

This is a mechanical group, but the technology behind it is insanely amazing. As in, the geniuses at Shimano have made the shifting action feel both easier and — astonishingly — more responsive. Check out the review from FairWheel Bikes to get an idea how incredibly great this brand-new groupo is.

Then this all gets topped off — OK, more like “bottomed” off with — Dura-Ace pedals. And in short, this bike is going to be fast, ridiculously light, and beautiful as all get-out. You are going to love it.

More Prizes!

Hey, not everyone’s going to win a top-end road bike. In fact, most of you won’t. Come to think of it, only one of you will.

Luckily, there’s more than just one prize we’ll be giving away. For example, we’ll be giving away this super-sweet set of Dura-Ace PD-9000 pedals:


And we’ll be giving away a GoPro HD Hero2 camera:


Just in case you haven’t seen my videos lately, this is the exact same kind of camera I’ve been using and getting the best footage I’ve ever gotten. Check this out. And this. Nice looking, eh? If you’re riding, you definitely want one of these for yourself. Awesome, easy-to-use, incredibly versatile cameras.

And finally (and most expensively, actually), we’ll be giving a way your choice of WH-7900-C50 or C-35 clincher wheels, compatible with 10 or 9-speed bikes.

As for myself, I dig the C50s, as you can see on my Shiv:



And here’s a little prize with some attitude — something to tell the world what you think about cancer:

fcancer womens kit.JPG

A complete kit from the F&ck Cancer site, the brainchild of Dustin and Michelle.

You know, I think I might get one of those kits for myself.

How The Contest Works

Entering the contest is really easy. For every $5.00 you donate at my Tour de Pink fundraising page, you get a chance at winning each of these prizes. So, here’s how it works, in nice easy steps:

  1. Go to my Tour de Pink fundraising page.
  2. Donate any amount, in $5.00 increments.
  3. For every $5.00 you donate, you get a row on my magical spreadsheet of prizes.
  4. I choose winning rows at random, using to choose winners.
  5. You must donate by October 11 to win.
  6. I will contact winners by phone and / or email.

Pretty simple. And the fact is, Young Survival Coalition is about as straight-line to the type of cancer that both Susan and Michelle fought. Charity Navigator gives them four stars.

So your money will be well-spent, on an incredibly relevant cancer.

Speaking for both Dustin and myself, thank you very much for taking the time to make a donation.

The 2012 GranDonut Race Report

10.1.2012 | 12:27 pm

P9280461.JPGI have had some interesting experiences, thanks to this blog. For example, I have been to France. And Africa. And even Oregon. I have ridden and raced in a surprising variety of places, and I have met some extraordinary people.

But if, a couple years ago, you had told me something like the following, I’d have thought you were absolutely nuts:

One day, Fatty, you will challenge Levi Leipheimer to a race. In order to even the odds at that race, you will demand that a donut-eating competition will be an integral part of that race. Levi will accept the challenge without even batting an eye, in spite of the fact that you are writing all the rules and stakes of the challenge, and are clearly slanting them so far in your own favor that he has little or no chance to win.

As the day of that race approaches, Fatty, more people will join the race. Rebecca Rusch, a cycling hero of both you and your wife, will join . . . once she realizes Patrick Dempsey is also on board (!!!). Tom Danielson will join, without even batting an eye. And then Kristin Armstrong — an Olympic champion! — will even sign on, once you have promised that she will have the option of eating a healthy alternative to donuts.

Reading this now, I am still astonished. No, I’m not astonished that I would ask Levi to engage in an eating contest with me, under the guise of it being a race.

No, I’m also not astonished that I would rig the rules so that my chances of losing were practically nil. Frankly, that’s all perfectly in-character for me. Indeed, it’s a little bit astonishing that I didn’t make this kind of challenge until now.

What’s amazing — no, what’s completely and utterly unbelievable — is that Levi accepted the challenge at all.

I mean, just look at the physics of the thing, for crying out loud. I made it perfectly clear that — should I choose — I could eat more than a dozen donuts in the heat of battle. And there is simply no way Levi could eat even half that many.

Just look at the difference between the two of us, for pity’s sake:

Levi & Elden 862A9089 copy.jpg

Levi never had a chance. There was. Just. No. Way.

And so, for the first time in my life, I slept well the night before a race (without using Ambien or Melatonin or anything). For the first time in my life, I began a race calmly, knowing the outcome with absolute certainty.

Knowing that, if I needed to, I could eat more donuts than everyone on the other team, combined.

But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

The Night Before The Race

As a beloved and multi-award-winning cycle-bloggging (I just added the third “g” because I feel like what I write deserves more than two “g’s”) celebrity, I was of course invited to the Festa Del Fondo — a dinner / fundraising auction to raise money for LiveStrong, VeloStreet, and Forget-Me-Not Farms — on Thursday night.

But I wasn’t there to bid on auctions. I was there to strategize with my teammates: Kristin Armstrong and Tom Danielson.

To my delight, They both seemed to have team strategy on their minds, too.

“You’re not that fat,” Tom said.

Why does everyone have to include “that” when they make that observation? I asked myself.

“How many donuts can you eat?” Tom asked me.

“Thirteen is my record,” I replied. “But I’m willing to push myself to fifteen. You?”

“I don’t know,” said Tom. I looked at him dubiously, making my own estimate. Four seemed like a good upper limit for him.

“How do we eat them fast?” Tom asked. I had to admit that I really didn’t have a good answer for that.

“Drink water to help wash them down,” I offered, both obviously and lamely.”

“We’ll experiment tomorrow,” Tom said.

“Don’t worry, we’re going to win,” I assured him.

“Don’t get cocky, kid,” Tom warned me. “Don’t go thinking the race is a sure thing.”

I apologized, realizing that Tom was pretending to take this as seriously as I was.

“And,” Tom said, with so much emphasis that I was taken aback, “There is no way Kristin Armstrong is eating any rice cakes in this race, OK? This is a donut race.”

“But she only agreed to participate in the race on the condition that she not have to eat any donuts,” I offered, lamely.

No. Rice. Cakes,” Tom asserted, in tones that brooked no dissent.

I retreated.

Shortly later, I came across Kristin Armstrong. “Hey,” I said, “Tom says . . . “

“Thirty seconds per rice cake seems like a good time bonus,” Kristin said.

“Yeah, but . . .”

“I’m just glad I don’t have to eat any donuts,” Kristin finished.

I began to sense that my team captaincy was anything but effectual.

So I made an appeal to authority. Specifically, I went to Fondo Honcho Greg Fisher. “Tom’s taking a hard line on donuts and says there’s no way Kristin is going to get to eat rice cakes,” I said. “And Kristin says she definitely is not eating donuts. What do I do?” I asked.

“All I know is that I’m not staying up making rice cakes tonight,” replied Greg, reasonably. “If there are going to be rice cakes, I don’t know where they’re coming from.”

And that, in the end, was the deciding factor. Problem solved, simply by not bringing stuff.

Just Before the Race

Friday morning arrived. And then Friday morning left, without anything of note occurring.

I offer the previous paragraph merely for the sake of completeness.

Around noon, I showed up at the race venue, which was . . . the corner of a parking lot. No, that’s not where the race began, that’s where the entire race would be held.

You see, you don’t need a huge race course when the bikes that everyone would be racing are the following:


Yep, 12″ toddler bikes. Which — as I seem to have accidentally neglected to tell any of my competition — was the plan all along.

Greg — the Fondo Honcho — and I tried riding the bikes seated:


Absolutely impossible.

They can, however, be ridden — sort of — if you stand up and pedal, as Levi figured out when he arrived and tried out a couple test laps:

Levi Race On 862A9071 copy.jpg

Near Disaster

Next, Tom Danielson arrived, ready to ride. He started doing a fast test lap, getting a feel for the tiny bikes.

Tom Danialson Race Bike 862A9070 copy.jpg

As the father of young children, Tom exuded confidence in his tiny bike riding prowess and ripped around the course. I did my best to keep up.

And that’s when everything went sideways.

Flying up the straightaway, Tom rode up the short wooden ramp from the parking lot to the sidewalk. He hit the ramp fast, pedaling hard. Tom hit the top of the ramp at speed — and did an unintentional wheelie, which quickly turned into a hard fall right onto his tailbone.

Tom rolled around on the pavement, howling in unfeigned pain.

I am ashamed to admit it, but my first thought was, “Oh great. My joke race is going to send Tom Danielson to the hospital. Jonathan Vaughters is going to kill me.”

Yes, I started thinking about Tom Danielson’s career-affecting injury in terms of how it affected me that quickly. I apologize for being who I am.

Anyway, not wanting to kill, maim, or otherwise hurt the folks who had been generous enough to show up at this race, we made a quick course adjustment, eliminating the ramp altogether.

And there were sighs of relief all around.

Pre-Race Conference

Soon, the rest of the racers appeared. Rebecca Rusch showed up in a skinsuit and TT helmet, clearly looking for every advantage she could:

Rebecca Rush 862A9120 copy.jpg

Next, Kristin Armstrong arrived and demonstrated how she intended to win the day by riding in an aero position:

Kristin Mental Mapping 862A9167 copy.jpg

To my relief, she did not even ask about rice cakes.

Finally — and let’s face it, what 89% of the ladies in the audience were waiting for — Patrick Dempsey appeared, ready to ride:

Patrick & Rebecca 862A9179 copy.jpg

And, of course, there was me:


Yep, I was eating a donut during the team presentation.

I was that unconcerned.

Tension Mounts

As with any Very Important bike race, the GranDonut Race began with a press conference, where we answered very serious questions with very serious answers.

Elden, Levi, Rebecca & Patrick862A9202 copy.jpg

Mostly, I remember that it was my job to describe what the stakes of the race were during this press conference, and I — being feeble of mind — was entirely unable to remember anything other than the most important thing: If Levi’s team lost, he had to wear a propeller beanie for the rest of the weekend.

It didn’t matter though, because things got ugly very fast: a fistfight broke out between the two women competitors:

Kristen & Rebecca Dual 862A9117 copy.jpg

I don’t believe there’s a single person in the world who would not have put their money on Rebecca in this fight, but we’d never find out, because Rod Martin — the Race Director of the Utah Tour de Donut who had graciously come to the GranDonut relay to ensure that all protocol were correctly followed — pulled them apart before things could get too nasty.

Rod then gave the racers some last minute instructions:

Ron, Patrick & Levi 862A9098 copy.jpg

These instructions were as follows:

  • Any donuts spat out or otherwise not eaten do not count
  • Each donut counts for a minute subtracted off race time
  • One racer per team in the DOZONE (the donut-eating zone) or on the course at a time

There may have been other rules. Nobody really paid attention, honestly.

Then Dave Towle — famous and extremely cool bike race commentator and announcer — held the microphone while I sang the national anthem:


No, not really. It just kinda looks like that’s what I was doing.

But enough jibber-jabber. It was time to race.


And eat. Especially eat.

The Race

The race began with the pro women squaring off.


Kristin, obviously, was super-excited to be in a donut-eating contest.

Still, when the gun went off, the competitive instincts took over, and both of them crammed donuts into their mouths with reckless abandon:



To my surprise, neither of them ate more than one or two donuts before taking off. Clearly, I was going to show these people how it was done.

Kristin came in from her first lap at top speed, wiping out as she tagged Tom Danielson. But it was obvious that any abrasions she had suffered were of merely secondary importance to her.


She was fighting hard to keep that one donut down.

Rebecca was feeling it, too:


Meanwhile, Patrick and Tom were now digging in.


That’s why he’s called “McDreamy,” kiddos.

Tom Danielson set a record for how many donuts he could stuff into his mouth, figuring he could take care of the chewing and swallowing part at his leisure, after he rode his lap:


I’m pretty sure that’s three donuts right there.

But as Tom rode, there was drama in the pit area.


Levi was sufferening PTDCD (Post Traumatic Donut Consumption Disorder). Fortunately, Levi had a teammate who plays a doctor on TV:


“Give us a sign,” he plead. “Please, Levi, give us a sign you’re OK!”


A thumbs-up. What a relief.

Thanks to Patrick’s quick thinking, I believe that Levi will make a full recovery.

Wherein I Make the Obvious Become Startlingly Obvious

Tom came in from his first lap, at which point, thanks to Tom’s ability to unhinge his jaw and stuff a remarkable number of donuts in — we had a substantial (but not insurmountable) lead.

I aimed to change that.

I walked slowly to the table, planted my feet squarely on the ground, took four donuts in hand, and accordioned them together into a single non-airy mass.

I took a bite, took a swig of water. Chewed. Swallowed.

I repeated.

Before long, I had dispatched my first four donuts.

Everyone expected me to go out and ride. I did not ride.

I remained where I was and ate another two donuts.

Six donuts. And I knew I could do more. I was prepared to do more.

“OK, Fatty, that’s enough,” Rod said. “Nobody’s going to touch that. Head on out on your lap.”

And I was off on my first lap, riding with the same intensity I had brought to my eating:


I was awe-inspiring. It’s as simple as that.


By the time we finished the race, the words “blowout” would come to mind. The scorekeepers’ records tell the tale:



Team Fatty won by nearly seven minutes / donuts.

But really, Levi was the real winner here, because he got to wear an awesome new hat:



See how happy he is to be wearing that?

Elden & levi 862A9469 copy.jpg

Just like in the special olympics, though, nobody went home without a prize, thanks to Rod, who had participant plaques made for everyone.

Here’s post-race pose one:


And here’s pose #2, where I show the stomach of victory:


Click on that image above (if you dare) to see the look of horror on everyone’s faces.

Tom, at least, was not afraid to give me the respect I deserve:



As was stipulated in the rules of the challenge, Levi did indeed wear the propeller beanie at the start of the Gran Fondo the next day. However, it “accidentally” fell off within about ten feet of the beginning of the ride.

Luckily for him, Angie G — an Absolute Best Friend of Fatty Forever and Ever — was volunteering at the event and rescued it, so that as Levi and I were sitting on stage together after the ride, presenting awards to people who had gone above and beyond in their fundraiser efforts, I was able to return his hat back to him.

Naturally, Levi was very pleased to be able to wear it again.


What We Did

Was this a ridiculous event? Of course. Was it entirely staged from the beginning? Perhaps. Did it put amazing people in embarrassing and maybe even undignified situations?


But we also raised north of $12,000, to be split among Forget-Me-Not Farms, LiveStrong, and VeloStreet.

So in the end, here’s the tally:

One silly race, thirty four donuts, twelve thousand dollars, three great causes, and hundreds of people donating mostly because it’s the nice thing to do (and a little bit because you might win something; I’ll announce winners soon!).

Not to mention one huge debt of gratitude to four top pro cyclists and one top pro actor, each gracious enough to play along with a ridiculous joke.

I like those numbers.

PS: Many people have asked me if there will be a video. And the answer is yes. But I’m not the one making it. I will, however, post either the video itself or a link to it as soon as it’s available.

PPS: Here’s the video:

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