A Note from Fatty: Suppose — just suppose — you were sitting around, minding your own business, when you got an email with an incredible offer. The opportunity, perhaps, of a lifetime.
You probably wouldn’t believe it was real. But what if it were?
Today’s guest post comes from two of the very friendliest, most-generous Friends of Fatty you could ever meet.
Read. And envy.
May 5, 9:34 a.m.
I was in a virtual meeting, multi-tasking away since no one had turned on their webcams. I had just finished a Facebook post and was checking my personal email when a new message from Katie Bolling of World Bicycle Relief caught my attention:
World Bicycle Relief invitation (out of the blue) for a ride in Italy.
Invitation….Ride….Italy? Even if this had come from a Nigerian Prince and was spelled “ride,” you’d have to open it!
I immediately clicked to read it, thus completely losing the small amount of focus I had been giving to what was being said on my conference call.
Dear Allison and David,
This email may catch you out of the blue but I hope you give it some strong consideration.
World Bicycle Relief is associated with a series of events called the Trois Etapes. We have one spot left on the WBR team for the Trois Etapes Giro ride that is coming up in June (June 6-9). Since we already paid for the spot, we thought the next best thing would be to give it to one of our VIP supporters who have helped great things happen for World Bicycle Relief, and naturally we thought of Fatty.
I’ll be honest and say that we offered the spot to either Lisa or Elden in gratitude for all that the Fat Cyclist has done for World Bicycle Relief over the years but they are unable to make it work due to job commitments and the close timing.
When I heard this “no” from Elden, I thought the next best thing would be to offer it to a Fatty supporter who has been very kind and generous towards World Bicycle Relief through all of his efforts and, naturally, you two were at the top of that list and hence my note to you. I would love to give this spot to one of you two. For one of you to have the opportunity to go ride the Trois Etapes Giro on the World Bicycle Relief team as a way to say a HUGE thank you to the entire Fat Cyclist community and to hopefully also give you the chance to share this experience in Fatty’s community in the hopes WBR can potentially field a full Fat Cyclist/WBR Trois Etapes team sometime in the next few years.
I want to be clear that we would love to give this to you. Your only expense would be getting to Venice, and back for the event.
There was more – but that’s the main of it. And yeah, WOW is right!
Later the important question occurred to us. If Fatty says “no,” should you immediately say “yes?” I’m guessing Fatty read the details first.
[No, I didn’t ever get as far as the details. The timing just wasn’t possible for me, so I had to pass. - FC]
Now I do need to confess, all I really saw were:
- World Bicycle Relief
- Bike ride
- 4 days
- Fatcyclist community event
- World Bicycle Relief
- most expenses paid except airfare
You get the gist.
What an incredible opportunity! Especially for David, knowing him like I do. How could David not go? We are certainly financially comfortable, but something like this would be a pretty big stretch, and not one we would easily make with two kids headed for college.
So this was a dream come true for someone who absolutely loves to ride (David), has a real explorer’s and traveler’s heart (David), and is truly passionate about the work WBR does (David). And yes, I realize these also describe nearly every Fatcyclist reader (not to mention Elden and Lisa)!
Lastly, David had just celebrated another decade a few days earlier with only a small cake and no candles. [California drought, fire hazard. - David]
So at the time, this all seemed like a dream meant to be.
Scant minutes after reading Katie’s email invitation, I made a quick excuse on my conference call: “So sorry, I have to drop off – *mumble, mumble, family emergency* – I’ll follow back up with you all later today.”
Can you believe anyone employs me?
I phoned David at work. “Are you sitting down?” I asked. “I mean that literally. You need to be sitting for this!”
I read him the email….
May 5, 9:39 a.m.
It’s rarely a good sign when the phone rings in retail a ½ hour before opening, exceptions can occur.
“Are you sitting down?” she asked. “I mean that literally. You need to be sitting down for this!”
I put down my Diet Coke and my perfectly fresh jelly doughnut and said, “Yes.”
Several thoughts went through my head simultaneously. “Sure” came first. Next came “Exactly how much have we been giving?” (Note to self: check college accounts)
Yes, it would be a dream to ride in Italy. But the idea of being invited to join such a ride is humbling in the extreme (and I’m all about humble). I told Wife#1 a quavering “yes,” and proceeded to request the time off.
Leaving David to recover from the shock, I emailed Katie and WBR back, thanking them profusely and letting them that know David was in! I added that we both hoped to participate together in the future
if when there was a whole Team Fatty event.
(How awesome would a Team Fatty/WBR event like this be? Hard to imagine having much more fun than doing a multi-day ride in some fabulous location with a bunch of Fatty peeps.)
I also assured Katie and Jennifer Schofield (you’ll meet her later), that I would get going on all his logistics immediately.
At this point I still had not read the details. It was “ride in Italy” and I wasn’t doing it, David was.
What else could possibly matter?
David’s passport was current. Yay!
Then…I started shopping around for airfare. Yikes!
Then I discovered all the various rules and fees associated with bringing a bicycle. Double yikes!
And not just any bicycle, either. David is a tall guy and rides a 63cm frame. Those don’t even fit in most bike travel cases.
Oy, this was going to be a pain.
Still… once in a lifetime opportunity, a ride in Italy with World Bicycle Relief! We simply had to make this happen, whatever it took, and honestly, I was (and still am) just as excited for David as if I was going myself.
It was the next day that I finally visited theTrois Etapes website myself and even more horrifyingly, watched the video. I suppose the Troise Etapes logo itself should have been the first clue that this was a bit more than a “ride in Italy”.
Oh, I get it now. Those aren’t just squiggly lines in the logo…they represent mountain passes, getting progressively harder.
Ride? No. It’s a race. And kind of a real one at that. Yes I knew the ride would be in the Italian Dolomites, so all three days will be in the mountains, but this is a multi-day pro-am race in the Italian Dolomites.
[Do you have any idea how much it kills me to not be doing this? - FC]
The second clue I should have cottoned on to is that Trois Etapes means three stages. Rides don’t have stages; races have stages.
So in summary, Trois Etapes has multiple teams, each representing a different charitable organization, competing to win. The entire event is staged to allow the riders the closest experience they can get to what a professional race would be like.
Each team has seven amateur riders (imagine me doing finger quotes over the word amateur) and one professional rider. For the WBR Team, Songezo Jim from Team MTN Qhubeka is the pro that will be riding with them, which is awesome.
Let me add to that there will also apparently be race radios, team support cars and masseurs; the stages are timed, with various classification points and actual benefits for the winning team.
People, this is a race.
And if you don’t believe me, let me point you back to the beginning of this post. All the riders have to get a racing license.
Yes, David had to get an International Racing License.
*Cue laugh track*
Should you feel the need to have one of these bad boys for yourself, Molly at USA Cycling could not be more helpful. And should this particular time in your own life put you in the position of also being in the “Masters Category”, well hey, then it’s only $175 rather than $200.
Apparently AARP negotiated a discount.
Just remember that you will also have to get a note from your doctor that you are fit enough to participate. In fact, David will be meeting his primary care physician for the first time because of this event.
“Stunned” is an understatement.
Honored doesn’t begin to cover it.
And, after reading the information, watching the video, and checking the profile, the only words that come to mind are…”I’m screwed!”
I Love to Ride, I tolerate climbing, I LOVE the Fat Cyclist Community, and I admire Elden and Lisa, and their family. Being invited to participate in such an event, on behalf of that community is a responsibility that weighs heavily on me. I’ll go, I’ll ride hard all day, but I’m bringing my light (it will definitely be a Lanterne Rouge).
We had the opportunity to meet with Katie and Jennifer from WBR last weekend at a local innaugural WBR event. Jennifer of WBR said, “you’ll be fine,” but she’s a smiling, young, idealistic thing, that hasn’t yet imagined the horrors of someone my age.
I’m as old as Godzilla and I have an International Racing License (ironic), not sure even Elden has one of those [I don’t have any racing licenses at all - FC]. Though if they make me pee in a cup all bets are off!
I have a note from my Australian bike-riding Doctor that says I’m fit to ride (I shopped around).
WBR has my measurements for my team kit (3 sets), though I suspect they may be sewing ‘panels’ into them as I write this.
Yesterday I did 55 miles, 4500 ft climbing in 95 degree heat, so that’s a start. (When do I go? June third? Yikes!)
It will be an adventure. I would not be able to do it without the support of Wife#1, my children, Katie and Jennifer of WBR, and my friends in the Fat Cyclist Community.
PS: It’s been seven days since my last doughnut.