Grand Slam for Zambia: the Power of 5

11.30.2013 | 11:43 am

A Note from Fatty: If you’re already on board and are ready to donate, click here to go to the donation page. Thanks!

I think most people would like to think that they’re trying to make a difference in others’ lives. To be a force for good. And when you help another person, it feels pretty great.

But what if your donation had the power to make a difference not just in one person’s life, but in five people’s lives?

And what if your donation were automatically doubled, so that it had double the impact it normally did?

Oh, and what if…just by the way…when you donated you’d automatically be getting chances at winning not one dream bike, but at one of five dream bikes? Wouldn’t that be cool? (Answer: yes, it would be pretty cool.)

Well, I think you’re going to want to read a little more about the fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief I’m kicking off today: 

Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5

Shouldn’t This Be Called “Grand Slam 3?”

Those of you who have followed this blog and my fundraisers for a while might be wondering why this isn’t called “Grand Slam for Zambia 3” or something like that. Well, the fact is, this is the fifth fundraiser I’ve done for World Bicycle Relief. First, there was the one Johan Bruyneel and I did together. Next, there was Grand Slam 1, followed by Grand Slam 2. Then, last summer we took advantage of Trek’s generous matching offer and the Trek Madone they were offering to someone who donated.

And that brings us to “The Power of 5,” which I think you’ll agree is a pretty special number.

Let me explain.

What Does “The Power of 5” Mean?

When a person in Zambia gets a bike from World Bicycle Relief, they can go much farther, and much faster. And they can carry five times as much as they otherwise could:

WBR bike, all loaded up
A loaded-up WBR bike I photographed at the market in Lusaka — a very common sight.

That’s a very powerful multiplying force.

The thing is, though, a $134 Buffalo bicycle provided by World Bicycle relief doesn’t just make one student’s (or one healthcare worker’s) life better. Each bike improves the lives of—on average—five people: the person who receives the bike, her family, and her neighbors.

And the bikes benefit five common groups. You know about the three I’ve talked about before: students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs. 

But these bicycles also provide jobs to the people who make a living building them:

Building up bikes in Lusaka, Zambia

And the people who make a living servicing them:

A field mechanic with his certificate

So. This is my fifth WBR fundraiser. People carry five times as much with a WBR bike, each bike affects five people, and they benefit five kinds of people. 

That’s a pretty good “Power of 5” story, don’t you think?

But there’s more. 

The Power of 5…Awesome Bikes

You know that I’m going to hit you up for a donation, and you know that I am going to try to sweeten that donation with some awesome prizes. 

How about this: we’re going to give away five dream bikes as prizes in this fundraiser. 

But it gets cooler than that. These five bikes will be come from five different bike makers. In alphabetical order:

That’s right. These five different companies—normally rivals—have joined together to show that while it’s fine to compete during business hours, when it comes to doing the right thing and making the world a better place, they’re more than happy to work together.

And that’s an incredibly powerful—and, frankly, beautiful—message.

During the next few weeks I’ll be revealing the details of exactly which bikes they’ll be giving away as part of this contest. For right now, let me simply say that they are dream bikes, each and every one of them. And they are all outfitted with top-of-the-line components from the SRAM family. 

This Wednesday, I’ll be revealing details about what bike Ibis is donating, and how it will be spec’d. As a hint, let me just say that it’s a highly desirable bike, and Ibis founder Scot Nicol—aka Chuck Ibis—is choosing the parts himself, ensuring it will be the most amazing bike you could possibly hope for.

So, you may want to make sure you check back on Wednesday, OK?

How Can You Donate (and Maybe Win)?

It’s simple to donate and enter the contest for these five dream bikes (and yes, no matter when you donate, you’re entered for the drawing of each of the five bikes). Just go to my WBR fundraiser page and make a donation. 

For every $5.00 you donate (yes, I’m looking for every possible opportunity to fit the number 5 into this contest), you’ll get a chance at winning these five bikes. So, please donate in multiples of $5.00.

As a bonus, though, if you donate the cost of a WBR bike — $134 — you’ll be given an additional (you guessed it) five chances

This contest goes through the end of December, at which point a WBR employee will do the drawing to ensure that I don’t somehow wind up winning all five bikes myself. (Don’t worry; my family and I aren’t eligible to win any of the prizes. Alas.)

The Power of 5, Doubled

With this fundraiser, your donation is already working incredibly hard to make life better for people in Africa who need the help (not to mention giving you a chance at an amazing group of bikes). But it gets better, because during this month — all of December — all of our donations are being matched, dollar for dollar.

So if you donate $5, some mysterious person with deep pockets and a big heart is going to donate $5. If you donate enough to buy a bike, that mysterious person is going to donate enough to buy another one.

And in short, your money is going twice as far as it otherwise would. Which means we’ll be able to fill warehouse after warehouse with bikes:


But that’s just the first step. Because once we get them built, we get to give them away: 

Bike Distribution Day

And then, because of our donations, thousands of children will be able to stay in school. And get better jobs. And have better medical care. 

And have better lives.

Because of the bicycle. And because of you. 

That’s what Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5 is about. Thanks for donating and being a part of it

PS: Plus it’s kinda fun to dream about winning a dream bicycle. 

PPS: If you’ve got questions, leave them in the comments section; I’ll try to get to them, and Katie at WBR will, too.


Thankful, 2013 Edition

11.27.2013 | 9:29 am

A Note from Fatty: If you came to my blog today to find my mashed potatoes recipe, click here. If you came for the banana cream parfait, the recipe is here. And if you came to buy a t-shirt, you’re too late.

Every year since 2007, I’ve had a day-before-Thanksgiving tradition: to write a “thankful” post  (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). This year, I have a few things in particular I want to mention. 

Thankful for the Off-Season

2013 was an amazing riding year for The Hammer and me. We did a half-Ironman. We did the Rockwell Relay. Leadville. Crusher in the Tushar. Salt to Saint. 24 Hours in Old Pueblo. 25 Hours in Frog Hollow. The LiveStrong Challenge. Africa in Moab. Levi’s GranFondo. The 100 Miles of Nowhere. And more. 

Neither of us have ever been so fit or fast. Neither of us have ever raced so much, and The Hammer has made the podium her home. 

Now, the final race of the year is behind us. And we haven’t really started thinking about our 2014 schedule yet.

And it feels wonderful to not have a race to be thinking about. To not have something to train for. 

You know what happened yesterday? I’ll tell you. It’s going to blow your mind.

I was busy working on my book and daylight kind of got away from me, so an outside ride was out of the question. It was very cold outside, so I didn’t The Hammer said, “Well, you can go set up the rollers and do a Sufferfest video or watch something on Netflix if you want.” 

And I said, “Nope. I’m just not going to work out today.”

That’s right. I just didn’t ride. It wasn’t a rest day. It wasn’t a taper. I just took the day off

And it was exquisite.

Now, I don’t intend to stop riding altogether. After all, this was the first day in about a week I hadn’t bundled up and gotten out on a ride, and I’ve been having fun on these rides. But when you’ve been riding on a very strict and focused schedule for about nine months, to be able to just shrug your shoulders and say, “To hell with it, I’m not riding today,” feels incredibly luxurious and indulgent.

And that is why, at least partially, I haven’t gotten into cyclocross. I’ve been racing and racing and racing. I am all raced out. The thought of getting up early on weekend mornings, gathering my stuff together, feeling the race anxiety build in my gut, flogging myself on a muddy course, then spending the rest of the day cleaning my bike and gear…well, it doesn’t appeal to me. At least it doesn’t appeal to me as much as going out and mellowly riding random trails at Lambert Park.

I am currently loving riding or not riding, as the mood strikes me.

I am thankful for, in short, the off-season.

Thankful for Now

I spend a lot of time thinking about this one: I’m really thankful that I live when I do. I start thinking about what a person like me would do fifty years ago. Before there was social media and personal publishing. Before there were incredible bikes available at reasonable prices. Before the world was, in short, a technology wonderland.

I’ve raised millions of dollars (around three million at this point) for charitable causes I care deeply about. I couldn’t have done that before easy electronic payments were possible. Or before blogging. Or social networking. 

I’ve written one book, published two, and am working on a third. Until a few years ago, my publishing options were incredibly limiting. Now they’re wide-open. 

Until a few years ago, the likelihood of me finding the few thousand like-minded people in the world and then haphazardly establishing a friendship with all these people would have been none. The odds against me meeting the guys at Twin Six and putting together a great partnership and friendship — now in its sixth year — would have been huge.

The fact is, the stuff I love doing wasn’t possible even a few years ago. I’m thankful to be living in what is, essentially, a science fiction paradise.

The Honey Stinger Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Protein Bar 

I know, expressing gratitude for a protein bar may seem kind of weird. Until you try this particular protein bar


The Hammer. My kids. The Core Team. My readers. I have somehow wound up in a life with an incredible group of people around me, both physically and virtually.

For whatever part you have had in my life, thank you. 

You Are EXACTLY Sexy Enough For These Shirts

11.25.2013 | 7:30 am

Bratwurst. Pie. If there are two words more evocative of the ethos of, I don’t want to know what they are. (Also, I just used both the words “evocative” and “ethos” in the same sentence.)

It’s like they’re our mission statement, disguised as a mantra, only now conveniently represented pictorially in a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt (men’s and women’s). Like this:

Brats, Pie, & Heavyweight Horsepower

What Are You Supporting and When Should You Order? 

When you buy this (or any of the below) long-sleeve t-shirts, you’re supporting me as I write Fight Like Susan. Which is so cool of you it’s dangerous. That’s right: purchasing this shirt makes you dangerously cool.

So when is the pre-order? Right now. Is that soon enough for you? But you can’t dilly-dally in your order-making, because this pre-order is going on for just two days (11/25-26), so it will ship 12/12-17, arriving in time for Christmas (unless you’re ordering from out of the US, in which case I really have no idea when it will arrive, but would bet good money that it won’t be by Christmas).

And if you don’t pre-order during this admittedly small window, you won’t get one of these shirts. Not even if you send me a convincingly earnest email explaining how you meant to order one and then forgot until it was too late. 

A Note to Women About Sizing

If you’re a woman and you’re ordering a women’s t-shirt, you should be sure to order larger than you would for non-American Apparel T-shirts. To illustrate my point: The Hammer, who is 5’7” and weighs around 125 pounds and is basically as fit as a person can be…wears a women’s XL whenever she orders any t-shirt from Twin Six (including any of these). She can fit into a women’s Large, but XL is more comfortable. 

Adjust your sizing expectations accordingly, OK?

How About The Holiday T?

At some point in your life, you’re going to be put in the situation where you need to wear something that looks like a holiday sweater. No, don’t try to argue; it’s a proven fact.

When that moment arrives, you’ll  have two options: to either wear a holiday sweater (not recommended) or wear the holiday sweater-ish long-sleeve t-shirt (available in both men’s and women’s sizes): Holiday Long-Sleeve T

Yes, it’s a t-shirt. Yes, it looks like a holiday sweater. No, I don’t know how it’s possible for both things to be true, but I suspect either science or magic is involved.

But Wait!

There’s one more long-sleeved t-shirt we’re putting up for pre-order. This one’s a classic — the “painted” logo t-shirt, available now for the first time as a long-sleeved t-shirt (in both men’s and women’s sizes). Painted Logo Long-Sleeve T

Collect All Three, For Crying Out Loud

What if you decide that, paradoxically, you can’t decide? That you want to get all three? Well, you know, that’s OK by me. And in fact, you can get a nice little 16% discount if you get all three shirts as a bundle (available in both men’s and women’s sizing):

Collect all three, already.

How Do You Order? 

“Fatty,” I hear you plead, “please please please tell me how I can order these t-shirts.” 

“OK,” I respond, “but only because you said ‘please’ thrice and I am inclined to reward this kind of effusive politeness.” So here you go:

And I’m being completely serious about the two-day pre-order. If you don’t pre-order 11/25 or 11/26, it’s too late. We need to get the order off pronto to get these shirts into everyone’s hands well before Christmas.

PS: While you’re at Twin Six buying these shirts, allow me to heartily recommend you look around at other things Twin Six sells — jerseys, shirts, hats, shorts, everything. I daresay you might get 113% of your Christmas shopping done in one glorious spending spree. These guys are my friends and they do a lot to help with the fundraising work I do. So, you know, it might be nice to help keep them in business and stuff.

25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part IX: Podiums and Ill-Timed Naps

11.21.2013 | 9:40 am

A Note from Fatty: Next week, November 25-26, I’ll be doing a special pre-order for the new Fat Cyclist long-sleeve t-shirt. Check it out:


I love this design. It’s both beautiful and an excellent mission statement. 

In addition to this new design, I’ll be bringing back the painted-look design, this time as a long-sleeve T. And the FatCyclist holiday sweater-ish long-sleeve T. 

So, look for the announcement and links to the Twin Six site this Monday, November 25. You’ll only have two days to pre-order, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. 

The t-shirts will ship 12/12 to 12/17, so if you’re in the US, they will be arrive by Christmas. 

And when you buy one, you’re going to be helping me make ends meet while I’m writing Fight Like Susan. Which is awfully cool of you.

25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part IX: Podiums and Ill-Timed Naps

It is such a strange feeling to be done with a big race. Somehow, by riding my bike for just under 26 hours, racing around this loop had become my whole universe. Somehow, suddenly not having to race seemed strange. Foreign.

And incredibly luxurious.

I cleaned up, got into some jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket — so exquisite to not be wearing a jersey and bike shorts with a damp chamois — and walked around (I had tried to help tear down camp, but Zach, Trisha, and Brooks laughed at my uselessness and told me to go relax).

There was a free lunch — loaded up tostadas from Costa Vida. The Hammer and I picked ours up, then sat down in the dirt to eat, killing time ’til the awards ceremony.

Within moments my head was nodding forward. My food mostly untouched. I have a singular ability to fall asleep instantly, and that ability was asserting itself, big time. 

Then I was startled awake by The Hammer, who was squealing, “That’s Jill Homer!” You see, The Hammer is Jill Homer’s biggest fan.

So we went and talked to Jill, finding that — like us — she and her boyfriend Beat had done the race solo and ridden it together. Unlike us, Jill had crashed out of the race, finishing ten laps. 

Meanwhile, The Hammer used all her willpower to not ask for an autograph.

Which makes me think: the coolest Spreecast I could ever do would be one where I just have The Hammer and Jill swap stories about what it’s like to be really nice, normal women who also happen to love doing monster endurance events.

Don’t you think?

On the Podium

It was time for awards to be handed out. Of course, it was no surprise at all that The Hammer won her Women’s Solo Singlespeed division: 

IMG 1086

What we didn’t know for sure — and which the announcer was very cool about announcing — was that The Hammer had also put in the fastest overall women’s solo time. Since she wasn’t registered in the geared solo division though, she wasn’t on that podium. So I have taken the liberty of slightly modifying the official results:


And for the singlespeed men? Well, they called Jamon up for first place — no surprise.

Then they called Kenny up for second place — no surprise.

And then they called me up for third place. 

IMG 1083

Which was a surprise. 

I had — without knowing it — finished my 17th lap just five minutes ahead of El Freako:


To be clear, El Freako’s (aka Jeff) lap times are consistently faster than mine. But sometime during the middle of the night, he did a 4:33 lap. Was he sleeping? Fixing a mechanical? Tending to an injury? I dunno. But this was definitely a tortoise-and-the-hair moment. 

And as a result, I got this very cool Lezyne Port-a-Shop toolkit as a prize. 

IMG 7719

With a retail value of $139, that’s by far the nicest third prize I’ve ever seen at a race. And now this lives in my truck, and I have pretty much every tool I could need to fix anything.

So now it’s especially sad that I’m such a miserable mechanic.

Inopportune Naptime

And then it was time to head home. Now, we were smart enough not to attempt the four-hour drive back to Alpine. No. We instead were just going to do the forty-minute drive back to Kenny and Heather’s house.

By the time we got on pavement, I was having a really hard time keeping my eyes trained. “I think I may need to pull over,” I told The Hammer. 

And then my head drooped forward. Followed by The Hammer screaming. 

Which woke me up pretty thoroughly. 

You know what would be a good idea at 24-hour races? Designated drivers for afterward.

Weeks Later

And now, for the first time since Spring, The Hammer and I have no races coming up. Nothing to train for. 

It feels wonderful.

The only problem is, I still can’t feel my index or middle fingers in my right hand.

25 Hours in Frog Hollow, Part VIII: The Big Finish is Not the Finish

11.20.2013 | 9:12 am

Once I found that The Hammer had upped her goal from merely destroying the women’s Solo SS record at Frog Hollow to being the outright fastest Solo woman — gears or not — at Frog Hollow, I wanted to get some intel on where she stood on objective, and I asked Zach and Brooks to go to the timing tent and find out.

So when we came into the pit at the next lap, I asked, “Where does The Hammer stand?” 

“We’re not sure,” Brooks said. “The timing computer isn’t showing women solo racers correctly right now. They’re working on it.” 

“What about Kenny?” I asked. “How’s he doing?”

“Jamon is a lap ahead of him. It looks like Jamon’s going to do 19 laps; Kenny will wind up with 18, and that’s going to for sure be good enough for second.” 

“And how about me?” I asked. “Do you have any idea where I stand?” 

“You’re doing good,” Zach said. Which is nice pit crew chief language for, “You’re not in the hunt.” 

Which I knew already, and was — to my own actual amazement — completely OK with.

I Have a Conversation With Ulterior Motives

This is going to come as a bit of a shock to you, but I am not above sneakiness. No indeed. 

Allow me to demonstrate.

Toward the end of our fourteenth lap, on a technical singletrack section I always led The Hammer on, we caught up with a woman solo rider (solo riders had bright ribbons tied to their saddles to identify them). 

“Hey there,” I called out. 

“You want by?” she replied.

“Nope, I’m great right here for now,” I said. “Congrats on doing this race solo.” 

“Thanks,” she said. “Right now I’m barely staying on my bike.” 

“Yeah, I’ll bet. Doing this race solo must be really hard,” I said in my very best “sympathetic and admiring” voice. “So, how many laps will this be for you?” 

“Twelve. I’m in third place right now.” 

“Way to go,” I said. “Is Bec still in first place? How many laps has she done?” 

“Yeah, she’s about half a lap ahead of me.”

Which was exactly what I needed to know. 

“Have a good race,” I said, which is code for “OK, I’m ready to come on by now.” 

“Oh, and by the way,” I finished as I went by, “The woman right behind you now is my wife. She’s finishing her fourteenth lap right now. On a singlespeed.” 

A few minutes later, I recounted the story to The Hammer and asked, “Was I a jerk right then? Getting competitive info from her without explaining why I cared? And then bragging about you as I came around?” 

The Hammer assured me I was not, in fact, being a jerk.

But really, what else could she say?

The Final Lap

The final lap — our seventeenth — of the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow was harder than all the previous laps, combined.

“Why?” you ask?

“Well, that’s a fantastic question,” I answer. And I have a theory. When your head knows that you only have to go around one more time, it can finally stop fooling your body. It can finally stop saying, “Hey there, butt, you’re OK. Really, you are.” It can stop saying, “Wrists, I know you’re pretty battered, but your pain has plateaued and you’re not getting any worse.” 

It can stop saying, “Shut up, legs.” 

I also have an alternate theory that I was just really tired and the seventeenth lap was therefore really hard, and if I had had to do an eighteenth lap, it would have been even harder.

I have a third theory that the final shred of all my hopes and dreams were crushed when, as The Hammer and I were headed out, Brooks told me, “The Hammer has first place all sealed up, both for single and geared women solo riders. But,” And here he paused sympathetically, “third place for solo SS men is about half an hour ahead of you.” 

“I’m sorry, Fatty,” The Hammer said. “You could have had third if you hadn’t waited and rode with me.” 

“This was way better,” I said. And I meant it. I had started this race burned out and without motivation. If I had ridden the whole thing alone, I would have been miserable. Instead, I had had a terrific day. Wonderful weather, incredible course, inspiring hardcore racing wife to keep me company.

But there was no getting around it: the final lap was hell. For both The Hammer and me. “I might walk up some of the climbs,” The Hammer told me. 

“Me too,” I replied, completely honestly. So when we managed to do all the climbs without getting off our bikes, it felt like victory.

When we got to the rocky downhill section, I nearly cried from the pain in my wrists and I couldn’t feel my right hand at all.

No, that’s not quite right; I could feel my right hand, because it hurt. What I couldn’t feel was whether I was holding onto the handlebar or whether my fingers were actually on the brake lever.

And neither of us sat much during this last lap. Our butts hurt too badly.

There was one fun little moment, though. There’s a spot where you have to go up and over a series of tricky ledges. It’s a rideable move—when you’re not tired. But as the day went on, I had noticed more and more people walking this section.

But I always rode it…because I had discovered a line I think hardly anyone had seen. An easy-peasy way up, if you just knew about it.

So as I approached it, on this final lap, I said to The Hammer, “You’ve been going up this way, right?” and rode up my secret line.

The Hammer rode up behind me, then said, “I cannot believe you waited until now to show me that line.” 

A fair point.

Big Finish

The final stretch of the Frog Hollow loop is an easy, fast, downhill mile, followed by a mild climb up to the timing tent. And on the final lap of the race, I could not have been more grateful for such an easy finish. 

TT FatCyclist 121
Trisha took all the pictures in today’s post. Be sure to check out her photo site,

“We did it,” The Hammer said. And we had. Seventeen laps in 25:48. 

Zach gave me a wet towel to clean up and cool down with:

TT FatCyclist 118

The Hammer just wanted to lie down:

IMG 5490

Meanwhile, Kenny was already dressed and was relaxing with a beer:

TT FatCyclist 105

Yeah, Kenny looks kind of tired, too.

Now all that was left was the the award ceremony, and then heading home. Neither of which would go as expected.

And that’s where we’ll pick up (and finish off, I promise) tomorrow.

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