Win a VIP Entry in Levi’s GranFondo (New Grand Prize in the Grand Slam 2)

12.5.2012 | 8:46 am

The Hammer and I have been looking at the 2013 calendar a lot, lately. Trying to figure out what we’d like to do this year, versus what would be fun to do this year, if we have the time and money and everything works out.

And then there are a few events that we are absolutely, positively going to do. This year, next year, and the year after that. Events that we do every year and plan to, for as long as we are able to ride. The Rockwell Relay: Moab to St. George. The Crusher in the Tushars. The Leadville 100.

NewImageAnd, above all: Levi’s GranFondo.

It’s quite simply our favorite event. And not just because of the ride (although the ride is pretty outstanding). It’s everything that goes on around it. And before it. And after it. And, in fact, during it. 

It’s the gold standard of GranFondos. Ask anyone who’s been there.

And this year, someone who donates in the Grand Slam for Zambia 2 (This Time It’s Personal) is going to get to see it all, on Levi’s dime.

And while a ticket to ride in Levi’s GranFondo would be an awesome prize on its own merit, this is so much more. This prize is a full-on freaking all-event VIP Pass. 

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Airfare and Hotel 

First off, the winner (you, I hope) will get airfare and hotel taken care of (if you’re outside the US, you’ll need to take care of your own travel into the US). You’ll want to make sure you bring several days’-worth of underwear and jerseys, though, because you’ll be arriving on Thursday (October 3, 2013), and will be enjoying the full-on awesomeness all the way ’til you go home on Sunday (October 6).


Here’s what you’re going to be doing

Thursday Night: Festa del Fondo 

Bring something nice to wear, because you’ll be having dinner with Levi, Odessa, and a a pretty small group of other people who are nearly as awesome as you are. You’ll have an incredible dinner, a great chance to meet Levi, and an opportunity to bid in an auction for the charities supported by Levi’s GranFondo. 

And I have an idea that maybe — since I’ll be there too, unless Levi’s bodyguard sees through my disguise — this might be a perfect opportunity for us to finally outnumber Levi and put him in a headlock, for once.

Hey, it could happen, you know. 

Friday: VIP Ride

The next day, after you’ve slept off the Festa, you’ll get to join Levi and some friends in a casual ride around the outskirts of Santa Rosa. I’ve gone on this ride once before, and it’s fun, watching Levi and Odessa work the group, taking time to talk with everyone on the ride, and being totally cool about it when I tried (unsuccessfully, but not for lack of trying) to get everyone to start singing sea shanties. 

The best part of the ride was when we stopped by the Forget Me Not Farm, which is the charity Odessa puts her time and heart into (the farm serves the dual purposes of giving a home to animals that otherwise might not have one, and to give children who have suffered abuse a chance to experience a loving, non-threatening relationship).

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they swing by there again. In which case you’ll have the opportunity to get a picture of you and Levi. Together with a cow.

And then you can make a big framed print of it and explain how awesome that actually is to all your friends.

Saturday, Very Early: The Front of the Line

One of the most astounding things about Levi’s GranFondo is the sheer number of people in it. More than 7,000 riders all line up, which means the line goes back for blocks and blocks and blocks.

And blocks.

But not for you, because you — along with the other VIPs — will go straight to the front of the line, where you’ll get to say hi to famous people like Chuck Ibis, and Levi, and Patrick Dempsey, and me. Especially me, because otherwise I’ll just be standing around there, wondering how come I’m the only one there with a muffin top. 

The Ride and the Food During the Ride 

The GranFondo is a big ride (you’re also welcome to do the medium- or short-distance versions of the course if that’s more your style), but every year I do it, I find myself forgetting about the distance, because the course is just so beautiful

You ride through redwoods. And along the coast. And by vineyards. And up and down narrow forested roads. It is not a ride where you should spend any time at all staring at the pavement. It’s a heads-up, looking-around, smelling-the-forest, smelling-the-sea-air, stopping-and-taking-photos kind of ride.

Hey, you should check out the video I made of the ride a couple years ago:

Nice, huh?

NewImageAnd there are great aid stations along the route. Really, “great” is kind of playing down how good they are. We’re talking deli-quality sandwiches. An aid station by the ocean. Oreos and Nutter Butters.

As well as stuff that people who eschew those kinds of things will still enjoy. 

Hey, it’s a rolling buffet and snack bar. 

After the Ride: The Festival

Even with the great food along the route, you’ll finish the ride hungry. Furthermore, you’ll finish it tired. But save some energy, because you’re going to want to stick around at the festival going on at the finish line. Everyone has access to the free food, drink and music, and that’s an awesome thing on its own. 

But you’ll have a pass to the VIP tent, where you can lounge, drink, eat, and hobnob to your heart’s content.

And if you’re like me, you’ll probably push right past that place of “content” and eat yourself into a full-on stupor. 

As If That’s Not Enough

There will be a lot of people who ride in Levi’s GranFondo in 2013. Like, 7,500 of us. There will even be a few people who get to come to all the VIP events. But only the person who wins the Levi’s GranFondo grand prize in the Grand Slam 2 contest will get this:


Yep, that’s Levi’s jersey — one he wore in the 2012 Tour de France. It’ll be signed, and comes with his race numbers. 

Which moves this prize from the “outrageously cool and I can’t believe I won it” category into the “totally one of a kind” category.

NewImageHow and Why to Enter

So I’ve been wondering lately: what would it take to make a fundraiser contest so freakishly compelling that nobody would want to not be part of it? Would it take a bunch of trips to Moab as prizes? A dream mountain bike? A fistful of gift certificates to Twin Six? A sweet commuter bike? A dream road bike

Would it take a trip to spend a week at a luxury resort, riding with Patrick Dempsey and Tom Danielson?

Or would it take this VIP package to the best GranFondo in America, with a signed TdF jersey and the race numbers as a kicker?

I think I’m getting pretty close to that irresistible fundraiser, don’t you? 

So why do you think there are so many amazing prizes? Why do you think so many companies and people are stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park, prize-wise? I’ll tell you why: it’s because what World Bicycle Relief is doing is important, and good, and well-thought-out. So good companies — and good people, like Levi and Tom and Patrick (and I’m not even close to done revealing new prizes, by the way) — are surpassing my wildest dreams in donating amazing prizes, in the hopes that good people like you will say to yourselves, “Wow. The quantity and quality of this contest is making my eyes glaze over with sheer astonishment at the awesomeness of it all. I can’t help myself; I will donate with enthusiasm and alacrity!”

Yeah, that’s how I imagine your inner monologue. Strange, huh?

So. All you have to do to be entered to win this trip — and all of the bikes and other prizes — is donate at my Grand Slam for Zambia 2 page. (Click here to go to that donation page). 

Donate any amount. For every $5 you donate, you get another chance in my magic spreadsheet, which is what an impartial third person will use for drawing prizes (although you get bonus chances if you donate $134+ — enough to buy a whole bike for a child in Zambia.)

Yep, it’s that easy. The contest goes ’til December 24 (Christmas Eve), at which point we’ll start drawing for prizes. So go donate now.

And (hopefully) Levi and I will see you in Santa Rosa this October.


  1. Comment by Jamieson | 12.5.2012 | 8:59 am

    I wasn’t too far off with my tweet!

  2. Comment by NYCCarlos | 12.5.2012 | 9:23 am


  3. Comment by Barton | 12.5.2012 | 9:34 am

    I love these prizes! Somehow I can see myself winning either the Gran Fondo w/ Levi or the Tommy D / Patrick D ride. Why would I win these, you ask? B/c I ride the speed of a turtle (maybe a fast tortoise) and I see myself struggling to keep up even on what a serious rider/pro would call a “casual” ride. Still! Riding w/ pros for 10 feet before I get dropped would be uber cool for the 1 second it lasted!

  4. Comment by Elizabeth | 12.5.2012 | 9:38 am

    Winning this would certainly inspire me to get on the training stand this winter…

  5. Comment by UpTheGrade SR,CA | 12.5.2012 | 10:16 am

    I got to ride with Levi yesterday!
    Well, in truth I was hammering up this low hill at 20mph which is record speed for me ’cause I saw this rider approaching from behind and I tried to hold him off! But the rider quickly caught me and as he blew right by me tucked in on an aero bike doing what must have been 30mph, I’m convinced it was Levi, and there we were riding side by side, at least momentarily. It even inspired me to climb Skyfarm instead of my planned easier route. I’m a big fan of Levi. Unfortunately, he was dressed all in black so I can’t reveal his new team as he wasn’t wearing any logo’s I could see.
    Anyway, it was cool, but not nearly as cool as your fundraising and giveaways. I am donating as much as I can to both help the folks in Zambia and because I’d love to win any of the super prizes, but especially the road bike ’cause then I’m sure I could stay on Levi’s wheel ;-)

  6. Comment by Al Pastor | 12.5.2012 | 11:07 am

    Love the movie and shots with the coast in sunshine. Smart of Levi to pick October for his ride – it can be damn windy, cold and foggy in the summer. I guess his day job probably has something to do with the schedule too.

    Probably too late, but it would be really cool if you had a trip to the Tour of California as one of the prizes. There’s going to be a mountain top finish on Mt. Diablo this year. If the crowds on Diablo last year were any indication, it’s going to be quite a scene.

  7. Comment by Ericdabo | 12.5.2012 | 11:56 am

    No thanks. Why would I want to participate in a dishonored cyclists event? I mean, will there be PEDs included as well?

    Congratulations on casting the first stone! – FC

  8. Comment by Liz M. | 12.5.2012 | 12:38 pm

    Spreecast is blocked at work; is there a way we can send you questions in advance?

    And another great prize! Looks beautiful out there.

    Sure, leave questions in comments here today. I’ll review comments as I work on my list for tomorrow. – FC

  9. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.5.2012 | 12:52 pm

    My mind wants me to say alacrity sometimes. But my inner dialog never includes big words.

    But it does include big dreams of winning this prize. 2 bikes and a toolkit worth donated so far.

    Thank you, Steve! – FC

  10. Comment by Brian in Va | 12.5.2012 | 1:28 pm

    Another great prize! Fatty, you astound me! Well done, sir!

    I’ve done 2 bikes so far and I’m trying to come up with more.

  11. Comment by Anonymous | 12.5.2012 | 2:37 pm

    Highly recommend that any one wanting to ride the Fondo register early. To say it sells out fast is an understatement. Fatty chose his 2010 video, because that was one awesome day. Now 2011 was a different story.

    Fatty. Is Davis on the horizon this year? I can understand if ‘not this year’ is the answer. I can always bring pie to Santa Rosa…..or the Alpine Fondo…that’s still happening….right?

    And NYCarlos: we ARE expecting YOU in Santa Rosa. It will make your Davis Hill Experiment seem like rollers.

  12. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 12.5.2012 | 2:37 pm


  13. Comment by MikeD in SR | 12.5.2012 | 2:46 pm

    How about two additions to an already awesome prize: VIP seating at the Gran Donut race and pie with Angie?

  14. Comment by eclecticdeb | 12.5.2012 | 2:50 pm

    I’ve got it on my calendar to sign up in mid-January.

    It would be awesome if I was able to ride on a brand new bike. Just sayin….

  15. Comment by Liz M. | 12.5.2012 | 4:03 pm

    Thanks, Elden.

    My questions would be:

    Some people say there should be management changes at the UCI and McQuaid should go. What do you think?

  16. Comment by Christina | 12.5.2012 | 4:37 pm

    I bought a bike last year, I bought a bike this year, all my plus3 kudos go to WBR…I never win anything, but I must admit the thank you letter from last year was totally worth it. I imagine the thank you letter will be worth it again and much less awkward than me face sweating from nervousness talking to any of these people.

  17. Comment by ClydesDave | 12.5.2012 | 5:36 pm

    Fatty – who can i reach out to about donating to your fundraiser thru my company’s matching program? i want to make sure that my funds are appropriately tallied in your spreadsheet full of goodies…thanks!

  18. Comment by iRide | 12.5.2012 | 6:08 pm

    Nutter Butters are my fav! I’m in.

  19. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 12.5.2012 | 6:45 pm

    Do we all realize by the time we do Grand Slam for Africa X we’ll have raised over $1M! Now that is AWESOME!

    Keep those prizes coming….but save some for the future.

  20. Comment by AKChick55 | 12.5.2012 | 11:41 pm

    I have to work when Levi will be there and my new cubicle is NOT private so I won’t be able to watch. Tell Levi (and Odessa) THANK YOU for such a generous gift!

  21. Comment by ChrisA | 12.6.2012 | 7:33 am

    Great prizes. When is the drawing?

  22. Comment by ChrisA | 12.6.2012 | 12:31 pm

    Duh. I guess I should have read to the end…..

  23. Comment by UpTheGrade SR,CA | 12.6.2012 | 1:38 pm

    Great interview with Levi. He is clearly trying to be open and honest and redeem himself for past bad decisions while forging a new path in clean cycling. I feel we need people like Levi in cycling to help guard against backsliding into PED use, and as models for how to be successful clean and how teams and the sport support that. Good luck Levi, and when you’re out doing intervals on the road, know that us amateurs you zoom by are cheering you on!

  24. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 12.6.2012 | 6:14 pm

    Unfortunately, I had to work during your interview with Levi, and so I missed it. Will a replay be available?

    Awesome program and even more awesome prizes. I am in and keeping fingers and toes crossed.

    The replay is available now, from the same places where the live version played. – FC

  25. Comment by Bill H-D | 12.7.2012 | 11:31 am

    I had a chance to ride with Levi in a small group for a Nissan-sponsored charity ride. It was a blast for all of us civilians. The whole time, I was saying “Do NOT half-wheel Levi or Horner (he was there too).” Heh. :)

  26. Comment by diverkiwi | 12.12.2012 | 11:34 pm

    Hey Fatty,
    I know that Grand Slam for Zambia 2 is #1 on the priority list, but I was wondering if you were gonna start a team for Team Fatty for the Livestrong Challenge in Davis. I wanted to sign up early this year, but I was waiting to see if we were gonna ride as a team again.

  27. Comment by Kathleen | 12.24.2012 | 3:05 pm

    Awesome! Levi rocks. You too Fatty. Merry Christmas!


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