Free Verse Friday: The Heartache of the Well-Kept Secret

11.16.2012 | 9:25 am

Sometimes I sit and reflect
Upon myself
Dwelling upon my sadness
And my heartache
Wishing that I could share
All that I know
But have promised to not

For there is so much
That I could say
So much that I could tell you
Especially about the
Heretofore unannounced
Prizes in the 
Grand Slam for Zambia II 
(This Time It’s Personal)

But I will not!

No, I shall not reveal that
I have so many grand prizes
To give away
That the term “grand prize”
Has begun to haunt my

I wish I could tell the world
That a major cycling company
Will give away not one bike 
Worth closer to $10K than to $5K
But will instead give away two
One bike for roadies
One for lovers of dirt
But I cannot say which company this is!
Nor which bikes
(Or at least will not
For I am coy)

I shall not let slip
That in the near future
I shall have a week 
Of blog posts
Wherein each day I shall 
Describe a cycling trip prize:
Airfare, room
And hotel
(Or resort or cabin or tent)
All included
Where you will ride 
And eat
And hang out
And quite possibly hobnob
With Cycling VIPs
(By which I do not mean me,
Though I shall sometimes
Be there too.)

I refuse to drop a hint
That one of these trips
Is to a famous and well-loved
Gran Fondo

I further adamantly
Do not concede that
One of these trips is to the
And hotly-anticipated event
Put on by a top pro

No! I will not discuss
That I might give away
An entry
To a nigh-impossible-to-get-into event
(Which I have done sixteen times)
Along with personal training advice from  
Someone who has won that event
Quite often 

I will not say that
My favorite companies
(Twin Six and Honey Stinger
Among others)
Are offering
Seriously cool prizes
I shall keep all that to myself 

And oh!
If only I could reveal
That numerous pros
Will provide cool prizes too
(Would I be giving too much away
If I were to reveal that
One of the pros
Has “Dating Mike”
as an anagram 
For his Twitter handle?
Or that another has the same last name
As the other
But is not related?)

I cannot tell any of this
But must instead simply remind you
That in addition to these prizes
All of which you are unaware
There are some pretty amazing prizes
Already revealed

Like a trip to New York 
And three (yes three)
People will get
Trips to Moab
(Where I think I might have
To show you the Mag 7 trail)  

I wish I could tell you
About all of these prizes
Each of which
You might win
If you help a child
In Zambia 
Have a vastly improved chance
At a good life
With a bicycle

If you knew about these things
I am relatively confident
You would agree
I have pretty much
Blown the doors
Off any bike-related
Fundraising contest
There has ever been.

And I think you would want
To be a part of this
And do some good
And maybe win something
By making a donation 

Thank you.


Win a Trip to NYC to Hang Out, Have Dinner, and Go to a Bike-ish Art Show With Me

11.13.2012 | 9:41 pm

A Note from Fatty: Today is National Guacamole Day. Yes, really! Be sure to celebrate responsibly (i.e., by eating a bare minimum of three avocados-worth of guacamole). My how-to video should give you all the information you need to participate in this international celebration.  

A Note from Fatty About the Contest: If you’ve already read about the new prize that’s being offered and now you just want to find the link to donate and enter the contest, it’s right here.

Over the next month or so, I’m going to be revealing prize after prize for the Grand Slam II project. The biggest problem I have, in fact, is what order to reveal these prizes. 

But I need to talk about one of these prizes right now, because I’ll be awarding that prize in less than a week.


Let’s Go to New York and Eat and Look at Art and Stuff

As you may know, I’m a very suave and sophisticated person. I’m very comfortable in big cities and have no difficulty finding my way around.

Also, when visiting places like New York, I don’t stick out like a yokel from a tiny town that boasts, as its entire retail district, a gas station, a candy store, and two sno-cone shacks (we love our sno-cones around here). 

Oh, and I look super sharp when I dress up, too. Totally like I didn’t buy my going-out-on-the-town outfit in the mid-90’s.

Hence, I’m the perfect person to fly you out to New York on November 29, meet you for dinner — along with The Hammer, Katie from World Bicycle Relief, and some SRAM hotshots —  and then take you to the one-night-only SRAM pART Project art show, where artists are required to incorporate bike parts into their art, and the proceeds from the show all go toward World Bicycle Relief.

For most people, entrance to this show costs $268. In other words, people get into the show by buying a couple bikes for kids in Zambia. But the winner of this contest will get in free. 

And as a bonus, you’ll get to hear my very enlightened observations and commentary on the merits of each work. (Hint: I’m very astute and make  extremely insightful . . . um . . . insights.)

Hey, let’s take a look at a few of the works that will be on display:

Lewis Tardy
Free Wheeling, by Lewis Tardy (I should mention that I got to meet Lewis last summer. He was the grand prize winner in the show last year, so he got to come to Zambia the same time I did. He’s a great guy and I love his work.) 

Singletrack, by Jonathan Sanders
Singletrack, by Jonathan Sanders

Ostrich, by Rob Millard-Mendez

Heart Lode, by Mark Castator
Heart Lode, by Mark Castator

You can check out other pieces that will be on display here

OK, Let’s Get Specific

So here’s what you can win, and how. Let’s start with the “what” part:

  • Round-Trip Airfare to NYC (from within US; if you’re outside the US you can still win, but it’s your responsibility to cover airfare to the US)
  • Dinner at the Half King with Fatty, The Hammer, Katie of WBR, and Mike Kollins (COO of WBR)
  • Entrance into the pART Project Show
  • Hotel for 1 night: Don’t worry, you don’t have to share.

It’s going to be an awesome time. And not just because I intend to wear suspenders and a monocle, as I’m given to understand all patrons of the art do when looking at artistic objects and saying very eloquent things about those artistic objects. 

And in short, It’s going to be a lot of fun.

So how do you enter? Easy. Just make a donation at my Grand Slam for Zambia II page. That’s all you’ve got to do. For every $5 you donate, you get a chance at the prize.

And yes, if you’ve already donated for the Grand Slam II, you’re already entered for this contest (and for the others that are going to be coming soon). So that’s kind of a cool bonus, isn’t it?

But here’s the thing. We’ve got to have a little time to take care of buying plane tickets and stuff, so the drawing has to happen on 11/21. Which means that you need to make your donation by Midnight, 11/20

More prizes are coming soon, so even if you don’t win this one, donating now sets you up for winning what’s coming down the pike. (Hint: there is no pike coming down the pike. A pike makes a terrible prize.)

Good luck; I hope to see you in NYC!

PS: If you’re in the area and would just like to see the show, a few tickets are still available.

Fall Moab (Fiscal Year) 2013: Moab, Rebooted

11.13.2012 | 10:04 am

I love Fall Moab — a weekend each Autumn (after all the tourists go home) where the Core Team heads out to Moab and ride our collective brain out. It’s a hallowed annual tradition. For example, I’ve written reports on 2012, more 2012, 2010, more 2010, 2008 and 2006).

But for the past few years, as far as I’m concerned there’s been a problem with Fall Moab. And that’s the “Moab” part.

See, in the past few years, Moab’s kind of lost its charm for me. Slickrock, Amasa Back, Goldbar, Porcupine. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All very nice trails. None of which were exactly scratching my singletrack itch (Dug explains the problem in his post, here, so I’m not going to go into it too deeply).

And the hotel’s have become ridiculously expensive.

And other places have amazing desert singletrack.

And in general, we had a case of Moab-induced ennui.

I know. Complain, complain, complain.

My point is, we’ve been going elsewhere for Fall Moab. Like Saint George. Or Fruita. And since we’re not particularly strict about terminology — do you really need to go to Moab to have your trip be called “Fall Moab?” We assert you do not! — this has more or less solved he problem

But for Fall Moab (Fiscal year) 2013 (Fiscal), we decided to head back to Moab. Just because, well, it had been a while.

I have to say, though, I didn’t have high hopes.

I was so wrong.

See This for Yourself

While we’ve been away discovering St. George, someone else must have come to Moab, ridden the popular trails, looked around at the endless slickrock and desert, and then said, “I think we can do better.”

And then that person (OK, it’s possible that more than one person was involved) got to work and created — at a minimum — three new completely genius trail networks, which we sampled on the three days we were there:

  • Klondike Bluffs: OK, Klondike Bluffs has been around for a long time. But it used to be a pretty blah network. Now it’s been extended, re-imagined, and otherwise awesome-ized. We rode EKG, Baby Steps, Mega Steps, and probably other stuff too. The point is, it’s now got well more than a full-day’s worth of extraordinary high-desert trail and singletrack, and I would have called it pretty much unmatchable if the following day we hadn’t gone and ridden…
  • The Magnificent 7: This was, without question, the finest, most exciting, extraordinarily fun desert singletrack I have ever ridden.
  • Moab Brand Trails: We only got an hour of riding in this network, but that is actually part of the attraction. Right off the highway, you can string together loop after loop of fun mountain biking, for whatever duration and difficulty you like. I want to go back and see more.

Really, though, you kinda need to see what the riding was like for yourself (note that this video contains footage from Klondike Bluffs and The Magnificent 7, but not from the Moab Brand Trails; my camera battery had died, and I knew I had plenty of fantastic footage already).

I recommend, by the way, watching this in HD and expanding it out to fill your screen to get the full effect:

And don’t even think about asking for an apology for using the Big Audio Dynamite soundtrack. That may be the best song I’ve ever selected for a video, and you know it.


Fall Moab has been re-booted (see Dug’s post for an explanation of the usage of “reboot” here, as well as for other great photos from the trip) The only sad thing is that I have not been rebooted. Which is to say, I am as clumsy as ever. Here I am, bleeding:


I wish I could say that this came from the nearly-flawless-but-ultimately-doomed attempt on an especially tricky and technical and difficult move. And not that I just fell over onto a sharp rock while unsuccessfully trying to get my cleat out of my pedal.

But you know what? It wouldn’t be Moab if there weren’ blood.

And I did, after all, clean this one:


There are already talks about where we should ride for next year’s Fall Moab. St. George seems to be the current favorite.

But my vote is we go back to Moab.

Giving Like Grown-Ups

11.7.2012 | 9:21 pm

A Note from Fatty: For the next little while, I’m going to be alternating between talking about prizes for the giant WBR fundraiser I started earlier this week, and telling stories from my trip to Zambia last Summer. Today’s a story day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get familiar with the contest and donate.

Today I want to tell you a really heartwarming story about one of my favorite moments from our trip to Zambia last Summer.

The best part of the story is the video, which you absolutely must watch, all the way to the end. It makes me laugh with joy — and yes, I chose the word “joy” after thinking pretty carefully about it — every time I watch it.

But I have to warn you: the point I’ll be making with this story is quite a bit different than the one you might be expecting me to make.

Finding Something to Do

One of the risks we took in having a couple of 16-year-old kids come with us to Zambia was that we knew that neither of these kids really care about bikes at all.

As the trip progressed, that changed. Like everyone with us, they got a real sense of how much of a difference a bike can make in a person’s life.

That said, their tolerance for all things bicycle-related did have its limits.

And so it was that, on one day, while the bike-obsessed among us watched with admiration as a WBR-trained bike field mechanic worked on someone’s broken bike, Melisa (aka The Swimmer) became bored.

Really bored.

So bored that she wandered over to where a bunch of kids were playing soccer with their homemade soccer ball, and joined in.


The kids were pretty amazed, frankly, for a few reasons.


First, because it was pretty much as unusual for a blonde white teenage girl to be playing soccer with them them as it would be for a martian to be playing soccer with them.

Second, because girls in Zambia don’t play soccer at all.

And third, because Melisa is really, really good at soccer.

A Good Idea

The field mechanic had finished his work, but we were all still hanging around, just enjoying the day and watching the show. Melisa had a great game going on with the increasingly large crowd of kids (word had spread).

And that’s when Melisa had a brilliant idea.

“Mom,” she asked The Hammer, “do we have any soccer balls left we can give away?” (We had brougth six soccer balls with us, courtesy of a co-worker of The Hammer and Rod at the local Rotary Club.)

“We do have one left, yes,” I replied. “But we had plans to . . .”

“I can’t think of anyone better to give this ball to than these kids,” The Hammer said.

“I totally agree,” I agreed.

I Love This Video

Melisa ran and grabbed the ball, and started pumping it up to give to the kids. A crowd drew around. Hushed. Hoping.

And you’ve got to see what happens next:

My Grand Plan

This gave me such a boost the whole rest of the day, having seen so many kids so happy over such a small thing.

And it got me to thinking: I should start working to get a steady supply of soccer balls to Zambia.

So at dinner that night, I talked with F.K. Day, the CEO of World Bicycle Relief. “I’d like to find a way to start bringing a bunch of soccer balls out here,” I said. “They’re not expensive, and they make the kids so happy.”

F.K. smiled. “Yeah, it was a lot of fun seeing those kids go nuts over that soccer ball,” he said. “In fact, it’s really tempting to just give people here all kinds of things.”

“But it’s not the way WBR works,” F.K. continued. “There used to be a textile industry in Zambia, which was completely destroyed when western countries started dumping boatload after boatload of free clothes on the country. The fabric industry here couldn’t compete with free, and people lost their jobs.”

“We have to be very careful with our giving here,” F.K. said. “When we give a child a bike, she signs a contract to maintain it, to keep going to school. There are responsibilities and consequences that come with the bike.”

“And above all,” F.K. said, “We give them tools they can use to make their own lives better.”

And I suddenly got it. “They need us to help them get started. They don’t need us to be Santa Claus.”

“Yeah. And we’ve been thinking about who to focus on when we give bikes away, and have found that girls are the ones who, when their life is improved, take that improvement and bring it back to their families and community.”

“And we make sure the community gets seriously involved with which specific kids get bikes. Community leaders weigh who lives furthest from schools and has the greatest need.

“Even the big ceremony is a serious part of our program,” F.K. told me. “Everyone in the area sees these kids getting these bikes, and they know it’s a big deal; they’ve been entrusted with something important and special. They know the bike isn’t something to be taken lightly.”

Giving Like Grown-Ups

I’ve thought about that conversation a lot since then. And while I’ve always liked the romance of the idea behind World Bicycle Relief — giving bikes to people who desperately need them just sounds noble — I now really like the fact that WBR handles their charity like grownups.

They’re doing good in the world, but they’re not merely doing it from the gut. They’re using their brains, too. They’re resisting the temptation to do what I would probably do if I ran a charity: just give stuff away because it feels good and it’s easy to do. Which, in the end, is more likely to harm and create dependency than it is to help.

They’re working in such a way that every bike they give has the best chance possible of winding up in the right person’s hands, and doing the most good. That your $134 doesn’t just buy a bike for someone in Africa, but for the right someone, who has made a serious commitment to honor your gift.

It’s fun to play Santa Claus. Hey, there’s an element of Santa Clausery in every fundraiser I do, including this one (speaking of which, maybe now would be a great time to donate).

But I’m glad that’s not WBR’s business model.

Grand Slam for Zambia II: This Time It’s Personal

11.6.2012 | 1:21 pm

A Note from Fatty: If you already know the details of what this is and how it works and are now ready to go donate, click here to go to the Grand Slam II Donation Page.

In the summer of 2011, I partnered up with World Bicycle Relief to try to do something big: raise enough money to buy 1000 bikes for kids in Zambia: $134,000. We called the project “Grand Slam for Zambia” (because 1000 = a “Grand” — get it?).

In the end, we wound up raising more than $158,000. I felt pretty good about that.

But then I went to Zambia for a few days and fundraising for these kids stopped being something I liked doing. This year, it’s something I need to do. Because I’ve seen exactly what an incredibly stand-up organization World Bicycle Relief is. And I’ve seen the astonishing change a single well-designed, well-built, bicycle makes in the lives of multiple people.

Here I am, giving one of the 1000+ bikes we bought for kids in Zambia:


When I gave this bike to this girl, her life was suddenly filled with new possibilities and opportunity. She’d be able to get to school in half an hour, instead of in two hours. She’d be able to bring water to her home quickly, and in one trip. She’d be able to help her neighbors. She’d be able to get to the market faster, carry more, and get home sooner.

Her father cried and shook my hand for at least a minute, saying “Thank you, thank you,” over and over.

I might have cried too.

So this year, I want to do more. A lot more. The I want to raise $250,000. A quarter million dollars.

You know what that will do? That will buy bikes for 1800 kids. And it will train 36 bike mechanics for employment (one mechanic for every 50 bikes). And it will outfit those mechanics with basic tools and supplies.

That’s 1836 lives, changed for the better in permanent, powerful ways. And we won’t just be tossing assistance out into the void. We’ll be jumpstarting a sustainable bicycle ecosystem for whole communities.

What are we going to call this project? Easy:

grand slam ii final_small.jpg

Your Money Counts Double

I know, $250,000 seems like a lot. It really does. But you know what? It isn’t impossible. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion we’re going to rocket right past $250,000. You see, during the months of November and December, World Bicycle Relief has found companies and individuals who have promised to match, dollar-for-dollar, our donations. So in order for us to get to $250,000, we actually need to raise only $125,000.

That’s quite a bit easier, isn’t it?

But I’ll still need your help.

I’m a Little Bit Overwhelmed by the Awesomeness of the Prizes I’ll Be Giving Away

Working with World Bicycle Relief, I have put together the most impressive slate of incentives I have ever built. There will be lots of big prizes (like some very nice bikes), small prizes, and experiences that you will definitely want to be a part of.

Over the next couple weeks (or so), I’ll be revealing what all of them are. The cool thing is, though, by donating now you are entered to win all of the prizes, including the ones I haven’t yet revealed.

P5220380.JPGToday though, let me tell you about one of the prizes that F.K. Day — The CEO of World Bicycle Relief (pictured at right) — and I dreamed up while we were riding our bikes together on a dirt road in Zambia.

“I wish more people could have this experience,” I said, talking about the trip I had just been on, seeing what a difference bikes make to people who otherwise have to get around on foot in a huge, spread-out place like Zambia.

“It’s incredible the way it hits you — how powerful a tool the bicycle is,” F.K. agreed.

“What if we brought at least some of the experience to the U.S.?” F.K. wondered. “Gave a few people the chance to see what it’s like to walk five miles, then ride that same five miles? To carry a bucket of water for a kilometer on foot versus on a bike?”

“We should do that,” I said. “Give people a sense of how these bikes feel, what a difference they make. Tell them stories about how peoples’ lives have changed while we ride with them.”

“Where do you think would be a good place to do this?” F.K. asked.

“How about Moab?” I replied. “The dirt roads there aren’t too different, it’s warm, it’s dry.”

And that’s how we came up with one of the many grand prizes we’re going to give away as part of this contest, which we call:

Africa In Moab

Three randomly chosen donors will have an all-expense paid (if you’re outside the U.S., you’re responsible for your own airfare to get into the U.S.) trip to the first-ever “Africa in Moab” adventure, where you’ll join F.K. and me as you build your own Buffalo bike — the exact same kind given out to kids in Zambia — and experience the power of bicycles firsthand.

Joining us from Africa will be Brian Moonga, Country Director of World Bicycle Relief Zambia, who is shown here using his mind to make a child’s hat levitate off his head:


Brian is one of the smartest, nicest people I’ve ever met, and is an amazing storyteller. He’s also an incredible Zambian success story, and the kind of guy who gets things done.

I asked WBR especially to send Brian here for this trip, and they were awesome enough to agree. If you’re one of the people lucky enough to win this prize, meeting Brian will be one of the highlights of your trip.

Between the lot of us, we’ll have enough pictures and stories to make you feel like you’ve been there. All without having to fly for 25 hours.

But you won’t be hanging out with just F.K., The Hammer, Brian and me. Nosirree. Mountain Bike Hall-of-Famer Greg Herbold will be there, too. In fact, as a Moab local, he’s volunteered to be party coordinator and to keep things fun.

And Western Spirit Cycling Adventures will be handling the logistiscs — setting up camp, handling food, taking care of shuttles, you name it.

And since this is going to be a prize we give out to three lucky winners, we’ll be able to customize the trip for you. For example, if you want to get out and do some mountain biking while you’re in Moab (and you’d be crazy not to), we’ll make time for it. More of a roadie? Well, Moab’s got some epic paved rides too.

Hikes? Sure.

Base jumping? Absolutely not. But you know, pretty much anything else. We’re going to do a lot, see a lot, learn a lot, and generally make this an amazing experience.

It’ll be this May (over the Memorial Day weekend, probably, so it’ll be easier for the winners to deal with days off, travel, etc.), and it’ll be incredible.

More Coming Soon

The three “Africa in Moab” prizes are just the beginning of the big prizes that will be on offer for this fundraiser. I’ll be talking about each of the many other prizes during the next few weeks.

I’ll also be posting a lot of stories about my trip to Zambia (yes, anticipation of this fundraiser is why I haven’t posted much about that trip ’til now).

What Your Donation Buys (Times 2!)

Of course the possibility of getting a prize is exciting, but the reason you’re donating is to make a massive difference in someone’s life.

  • Every $5 you donate, of course, gets you a chance at winning one of the many prizes that I’ll be rolling out.
  • Every $50 you donate buys a toolset for a mechanic to work on bikes
  • Every $134 you donate buys a bicycle and changes a persons life in a powerful way, plus you get bonus chances in the drawing.
  • Every $250 trains someone to be a bike mechanic, setting them up with a new employment opportunity, plus you get bonus chances in the drawing

Of course, any amount you donate is great, but I recommend donating $134 — the cost of a bicycle for a child. And remember, because you’ll be donating during November to December, your donation is being matched, which means when you donate $134 for a bike, it turns into two bikes. Like magic, but even better.

All you have to do to make a huge, permanent difference in someone’s life is donate here.

201211061209.jpgChristmas is Coming

Last year, a lot of people did something amazing. As Christmas gifts to their friends and family, they donated enough money to buy a bike for a girl in Zambia on their behalf.

This year, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to donate a bike on behalf of each of my sisters and parents. And anytime you donate $134 or more, World Bicycle Relief will help by sending a great-looking card to anyone you want. (I just tested it out by by a bike on behalf of The Hammer; I’m excited for her to get her card and message, and know for sure she’s going to be excited that I was thinking about her when I made a donation that will make a huge difference in a girl’s life.)

So. If you don’t know what to get someone for Christmas, do what I’m doing: make someone’s life vastly better on their behalf. (You’ll be given the option of what card to choose, who to send it to, and what message to include after you finish your donation.)

Which brings us to when this contest ends: Midnight, December 24.

Note: If you want to send cards out to different people, you need to do multiple donations.

The last little while has been an ugly time in cycling. It’s time for that to change. I’m excited to show thousands of people — quite literally — exactly how wonderful bikes and the people who love them are.

Thank you for your help.

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