A Note from Fatty: Today at 11:00AM MDT, Jens Voigt will attempt / has attempted to set a new one hour record. I am happy to be the first journalist to file a story on how it will go / went.
Grenchen, Switzerland – Sitting at the side of the velodrome, clutching his aero helmet and rejecting all words of comfort from those around him, Jens Voigt is trembling with rage.
“Yes, I am a little upset,” Voigt confirms, doing his best to smile. “But these things happen, you know?”
The very fact that he makes this attempt at being philosophical about what has been, without question, the single largest debacle in the history of cycling, shows the character of the man.
For not only has Jens Voigt not set a new hour record as a bookend to an illustrious and long career, but he has not even completed the attempt at the ride.
Before the Beginning
The day started well enough. In retrospect, perhaps it even started too well.
Voigt arrived at the Grenchen Velodrome, suited up, and rode 814 laps as a warmup. Asked if this were perhaps excessive, Voigt replied, “I like to burn all the chicken.”
Voigt, it should be noted, is still working on mastering colloquial English.
A Bad Start
With surprisingly little fanfare — a countdown by hand — Voigt was off, quickly ramping up to a speed of 54Km per hour, easily a fast enough pace to break the record 49.7Km, even taking into account inevitable slowing.
Then, disaster: Voigt suddenly swerved wildly, rocketing up to the high edge of the banked velodrome turn, then flipping end-over-end, tumbling along with his entwined bike.
The cause? A dog had wandered into his path.
“Has nobody heard of leashes?” wondered the frustrated Trek Bikes Team Liaison, Matt Shriver.
Scrambling — perturbed but in control — Voigt gathered his bike, helmet, and left shoe (all three scattered in different directions), removed his horribly misshapen front wheel from the bike, pounded it against the edge of the velodrome wall with his fists until it was in some semblance of true again, and continued his attempt.
Before long, Voigt had picked up considerable speed — now at 63Km / hr in order to make up for lost time — and somehow resumed his groove. In spite of a bad start, it began to look again as if Voigt might still get that record.
But if one were to listen to the official — mercifully unnamed here — one would be able to detect that Voigt’s problems were far from over.
“Eighteen laps!” he cried. Then, “Twenty laps! No, I mean nineteen!”
“Twenty-one! Or twenty-two? No, this might be just twenty.”
This continued for a few more laps, after which he held up his palm to an astonished Voigt, signaling him to stop.
“I’m sorry, Jens, I’ve just lost count.”
“What?” replied Voigt, either due to his close-fitting helmet or sheer disbelief.
“I know, I feel so dumb. I totally should have brought a piece of paper and made hash marks, or maybe a clicker or something. Anyway, we don’t know how far you’ve gone. So let’s just start over.”
“Your horse cart is unsaddled,” muttered Voigt, nevertheless returning to the start line to begin again.
Alas, the day was doomed to continue to be a series of misfortunes for the storied Jens Voigt.
Within a mere 120 laps of his second attempt, Voigt’s rear wheel flatted, evidently from the extraordinary heat generated by the friction caused by the tires rolling along the laminated wood at an unanticipated 92Km / hr.
Without a word, Voigt repaired the flat, surprising all present that he had, in fact, brought everything he needed for this problem — except for a wrench to remove the nut holding the wheel (Voigt improvised by using his teeth).
Then he had to stop and restart the event again — this time, in order to pee, and to get a snack.
Finally, on what looked like what would be a successful run, Voigt coasted to a stop (not easy to do on a fixed-gear bike), 38 minutes and 49.6Km into the ride.
“My playlist ended,” Voigt said, “And I lost interest in riding around and around and around in circles all day.”
“It makes for insect-infested abdomens,” concluded Voigt
Voigt reports that next month he will attempt to pull a locomotive 25 miles, with his teeth, on a bike.
After which, Voigt will retire. For real this time.
A Note from Fatty: Sometimes I have so much fun joking around as I set up my fundraisers that I tend to push the causes — the reason I’m raising money at all — into the background.
Let’s fix that right now.
Today’s guest post comes from Odessa Gunn (Levi Leipheimer is her husband), a highly-involved, unpaid volunteer at the Forget Me Not Farm, which is the charity benefitting from the “Race with Fatty and Levi at Boggs” fundraiser I’m doing right now (read parts one, two and three if you don’t know what I’m talking about).
Read what Odessa has to say, then go donate. You might win an extraordinary trip, and you’ll for sure change some kids’ and animals’ lives.
I found the Forget Me Not Farm almost seven years ago, when a friend read an article about it in the local paper. I went to the Farm to volunteer, because I had recently adopted two horses of my own and I was interested in learning more about farm animals.
I wasn’t really aware that it was a therapy farm for at-risk kids and, to be honest, I was pretty nervous to work with kids.
Meeting the Animals…And Kids
The kids come to the farm as wards of the state, participating as part of their state-sponsored therapy program. Many of them had never seen a farm animal, much less been charged with the care of one.
In my first week, I spent hours feeding animals, cleaning stalls, and assisting the kids with meeting and learning about all the animals — from chickens to llamas, goats to horses and cows.
I was able to see the children slowly relax their guard as they began to understand that this animal would depend on them for food, shelter, and health. I saw them connect emotionally with these animals in a way that they couldn’t connect to people.
The children who come to Forget Men Not Farm have unstable lives, to put it mildly. Many of the kids are victims of abuse and neglect; to see them allow themselves come to love and to be loved by these animals, was extraordinary.
I was hooked and have been volunteering there once per week ever since, including joining their board just under six years ago.
Since then, we’ve started a garden program that matches the scale of our animal care efforts. The kids’ therapy now includes ongoing responsibility for growing their own produce; they take it back to the group homes where they live.
The food is fresh, organic, and includes all the benefits that come of sourcing nourishment locally. That’s a lot different from the food normally found in these group homes, which is typically institutional; it makes us feel good to know they are getting fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Just last week, we picked enough food from the garden for them to make salsa in our new outdoor kitchen.
Recently, the Farm has developed a mentoring program to better serve the more complex needs of the older kids who come to the Farm. This is one-on-one time with long-term, vetted, dedicated volunteers with whom these kids can develop a relationship. It’s the extra piece that really builds on the connections with animals and growing their own foods that the kids made while younger.
This is where they can really acquire more emotional skills that will enable them to come out of State care and into the communities where they choose to live.
Where the Money Comes From
It’s important to know that the Farm doesn’t charge the various State and County agencies for the services it provides. It also doesn’t receive any state or federal program (although there have been occasional capacity-building grants for specific, non-service projects).
About 70% of the Farm’s funding is from individual donors and the remaining 30% is from family and foundation grants. The support from the GranFondo since 2009 has allowed us to develop the gardening program, hire a full time farmer-educator, and build an outdoor kitchen.
More importantly, that money’s been used to fulfill the mission of the Farm by allowing us to host far more kids and rescue many more farm animals.
The Staff and Volunteers
Becoming a part of the Farm family, from the two-person staff, the other 70 or so volunteers, and all the kids and animals was life-changing for me. We teach children how to love and respect animals, nature and each other. Most of the adults in their lives are authority figures, but we get to listen, teach, and spend time with these kids simply because we choose to.
Anyone who volunteers at the Farm has to make a one-year commitment (though many stay far longer) so that they can be a real presence in the lives of these kids. Their existence is so unstable and they spend most of their lives shuttling between various social service offices. Having a place that can be a consistent part of their lives, with people and animals that they can return to again and again is a vital part of the work we do.
I’m so lucky to be able to help these kids build a life they may not have had without the comfort, security, and responsibility of the Farm. I’ve got to assume that I’ve been helpful to them in my seven years as a volunteer there.
But I can say for certain they’ve helped me.
PS From Fatty: Click here to donate. I recommend donating in increments of $5.00, each of which gets you a chance at riding with Levi and me at Boggs.
A Note from Fatty: If you’ve had enough jibber-jabber and are looking for the registration / donation pages, here you go:
I sometimes wonder about evolution. About what particular combination of circumstances, challenges, advantages and environment has led various life forms to the place where they are now.
In particular, I sometimes wonder what almost impossibly-difficult-to-calculate set of factors occurring over unfathomable millennia resulted in what is, without question, my single greatest — and only quantifiable — super power:
The ability to ride my bike very fast while simultaneously eating a lot of food.
More specifically, to ride my bike really fast for a few minutes. And then to stop and eat a bunch of donuts.
And then to do that very same thing again.
With such a powerful gift, I believe it goes without saying that I am looking forward to the 2014 Utah Tour de Donut.
And you should be too. Especially if you live in Utah. And doubly especially if you live in the Salt Lake or Utah County area.
It’s ridiculous. It’s fun. And it raises a lot of money for causes I care about.
And it’s Saturday, September 27, at 8:00am.
You should register now.
Here’s How It Works
The rules of the Tour de Donut are simple (and detailed here), but really it’s very simple: You ride around a short, seven mile course three times. After laps 1 and 2, you stop and have the option to eat donuts — as many as you would like.
For every donut you eat, three minutes is subtracted off your total race time.
So, if you can eat a donut in less than three minutes, it pays to eat a donut. Up to a point. After which point (and you’ll have to figure out where that point is), there’s nothing in the world that could be sufficient incentive to eat another donut.
My limit, as I have discovered in past years (here are my writeups from 2010 and 2011), is around thirteen. Which is a lot…though nowhere close to a winning time (for that I’d need to have eaten 25 donuts), like Regan Fackrell, whose very name causes those of us who know what’s what in the famous Tour de Donut world to tremble in terror.
And to be honest, this year I don’t even expect to come close to my best finishing time; I’m going to be riding alongside my twin daughters. We’ll go their pace (The Hammer will probably be doing a 50K trail race that day).
I do, however, reserve the right to try to set a donut consumption PR. Anything higher than 13 will get me there.
Anyone want to bet for me on this? Against me?
Why You Should Be a Part of This
The Utah Tour de Donut is run by The Rotary Club of American Fork — which I am not a member of, because they said I was too great a legal risk.
No, they didn’t really say that. I’m just too lazy to join.
But I do love what the Rotary Club does, both for local and for worldwide causes.
Like, a part of the money raised will go to World Bicycle Relief.
But for this race, the local causes, in particular, are important to me. Thanks to the Tour de Donut, Lambert Park (which is close to my house) got some much-needed money when Alpine got flooded last year.
And more importantly, because of the Tour de Donut, the cancer wing in the hospital where Susan got treatment, has a nice blanket warmer:
It’s hard to read it in that picture, so a closeup of the plaque:
Yeah. I like that a lot.
Register…Or Just Donate
If you live in the area, you should seriously come do this with us. It’s silly, goodhearted fun that does a lot for good causes. Plus, friends of Fatty get a $5 discount. Just click here register, then enter “fatdonut2014” in the discount code section of the checkout form.
And if you don’t live anywhere near the race, why don’t you make the world think you did this race by buying a sticker for $5.00. It looks like this:
Obviously, it’s suitable for sticking on a bumper sticker — whether on your car or someone else’s is up to you.
To donate $5, click here to go to the Fundraiser page, then set the quantity to 5 (or multiples of 5 if you want more than one sticker).
I hope to see you there. If you’re not afraid of witnessing my superpower in action, that is.
A Note from Fatty: If you already know what this is about and how it works and now just want the link to donate, just click here to go to the fundraising page.
Things were not looking good. Not good at all. But now they’re looking good. For me, and for the GranFondo. And — most especially — for you.
To catch you up, things started getting ugly early this week when I said that I won’t be able to go to Levi’s GranFondo this year. The BikeMonkey guys — in a typical mega-company aggressive move — reacted by telling me that if I’m not coming to their party, I needed to reimburse them for certain…former indiscretions.
The conversation continued in Twitter, where I tried to come to reasonable terms.
The Bike Monkey bureaucrats would not budge.
Always trying to collaborate and drive to consensus, I tried again:
They continued to not budge.
I admit, I became desperate and made a suggestion I am not proud of.
Even that would not sway them.
I could tell I wasn’t getting anywhere with Bike Monkey, nor was I likely to. So I sent a message to Levi Leipheimer, hoping he could make them see reason.
It took a little back and forth, but eventually he relented.
To which I replied:
Because I did, in fact, have a plan. A very good plan.
A plan I think you’re going to like.
A Conversation With Levi
I called Levi. (Yes, I have his phone number, which he is none too happy about. But that’s beside the point.) The conversation went like this.
Me: So the Bike Monkey guys are invoicing me for around $34,000.
Me: That’s a lot of money.
Me: You know that I don’t have that kind of money, right? Not even close?
Me: Those guys at Bike Monkey have hearts of stone.
Me: And I’m pretty sure you do, too.
Me: But your wife, Odessa, on the other hand, seems like a genuinely good person. Someone who volunteers a ton of her time for a really amazing charity: Forget Me Not Farm. Where they bring together both kids and animals that have been abused, and help them heal each other?
Me: That’s pretty incredible. In fact, that’s amazing. I’d love to be a part of a program like that.
Me: I can hear “Judge Judy” on in the background. You’re not even listening, are you?
Me: So I could pretty much propose anything and you’d agree to it right now, right?
Me: How about this, then. Instead of me paying back Bike Monkey, how about we do a fundraiser for Forget Me Not Farm, instead?
Me: I’m recording this you know; you won’t be able to get out of this once you commit. So you’re in?
Me: OK. So here’s what I’m thinking we do. We have people donate multiples of $5 to my GranFondo fundraising page, with each $5 getting them a chance at the prize. The more you donate, the better your chance at winning.
Me: The prize is going to need to be awesome, though. Something crazily cool. Something that knocks people off their feet. Something that ropes you and Bike Monkey into doing most of the work, leaving my readers and me to just donating some money and then winning a cool prize. One that Bike Monkey provides at their expense, not mine.
Me: Hey, it’s been great talking with you. I’m going to get off the phone now and tell my readers what the prize will be, OK?
And then we hung up. Or at least, I hung up.
Levi may still be on the phone.
Race, Ride and Road Trip With Fatty and Levi
Boggs is not just a bike race. It’s three bike races: A hill climb. An Eight-Hour Race. And a Super D. And it’s in a spectacular location.
I’ve wanted to do it ever since I’ve known it exists. And now I’m going to get to.
And so — if you win — are you.
But that leaves us with a problem: who will be the third member on our team when we do the eight-hour race?
Levi Leipheimer, that’s who.
That’s right. The winner of this contest will be flown to Oakland or San Francisco, California, where you’ll be driven to Santa Rosa. We’ll hang out. Then you, me, and Levi will load up into an RV, and we’ll go road-tripping to Boggs.
You’ll be entered in all three events, though the only one I care about is that you will race with Levi and me in the eight-hour event.
And here’s the cool thing: I guarantee that we will win our category…because we will be racing in our own category.
That’s right. I’m guaranteeing you a podium spot in an eight-hour relay race. No matter how fast you are. Or how slow. Honestly, neither Levi nor I really care. We’re just looking forward to having fun.
Let’s Get Specific
So, to be clear, here’s what the prize of the “Race with Levi and Fatty” contest looks like:
- Round-trip travel for one to and from SFO or OAK from any destination in the contiguous 48 states
- Transfers to and from SFO or OAK to Santa Rosa lodging
- RV rental, camp fees, and gas from Friday, May 1 to Sunday May 3
- Race entry to all three events (Hill Climb, 8-Hour Race, Super D)
- 8-Hour event on a team with Levi and Fatty
- Groceries at Boggs (3 days food and drink)
- Event t-shirt
- Medal, poster, rider meal
- Big delicious beers
- Bike Rental
- Pie — lots and lots of pie
Seriously, this might be the coolest — and is certainly the most unique — prize I have ever put together.
But What If You Don’t Mountain Bike AT ALL?
Like I said, neither Levi nor I are really out for blood (though I reserve the right to change my attitude when the heat of the battle is upon me) in this race. We don’t care if you’re a near-pro or a novice. We’re here for the fun of it.
But if you just don’t want to do an MTB event at all, you should still enter this contest. Because you can swap this prize out for a 2015 trip to Levi’s GranFondo, instead, with equivalent level of luxury. Like, they’ll fly you out, put you up in a hotel, set you up with the whole VIP experience.
So, roadies, you have no excuse. Whatever way you go, we’ve got you covered.
So. Go donate. You’ll be helping an amazing cause (the GranFondo supports a number of great causes, but in this case we’re specifically raisin money for Forget Me Not Farms).
And good luck. I’m looking forward to racing with you.
And Levi will look forward to it too I’m sure, as soon as he finds out that he is.
Wow. Just wow.
I genuinely and completely honestly had no idea what a Pandora’s box of worms yesterday’s post would open. I mean, I just — as pleasant as could be — announced that, as much as I would like to, I will not be able to attend Levi’s GranFondo this year.
You’d think they’d understand.
And you’d be wrong, apparently, to think that.
Almost instantly after I posted yesterday, I got the following message from the GranFondo:
Naturally, this put me on my guard, but — as a beloved and award-winning blogger — I chose to take the high road. I replied:
Almost as if they were lurking on Twitter, ready to pounce on my reply, they shot back:
and then even Levi, with whom I have in the past had a somewhat acrimonious relationship — but who I thought is now my friend — ominously chimed in:
Was I wigged out? You bet I was wigged out.
A Most Unwelcome Letter
And then the other shoe dropped. Late yesterday afternoon, a bike messenger came by FatCyclist.com worldwide HQ (i.e., my basement) and delivered the following, which I have scanned and reproduced so that you can tell it is absolutely real:
The text is kind of small — which is irritating, because the above is the actual size of the letter delivered to me — so here’s the text of the above letter, which I have painstakingly retyped for your convenience.
It has come to our attention that you will not be able to participate with us at Levi’s GranFondo on this, our sixth year. We are certainly disappointed that you will be breaking your admirable attendance record, but do understand that life is a complicated symphony with many constituent parts with which to contend and balance.
That said, it seems appropriate that we take this break in our association to balance our respective ledgers. We are always happy to host a cyclist of your repute, especially one engaged in the noble art of bloggery. However, as you will see in the enclosed invoice, hosting your particular personality does not come without its obligations. You are a colorful character, Mr. Nelson, in a world far too content to be pale and gray.
However, we cannot ignore the costs associated with such charisma, especially as we are a charity event and the indulgences enumerated here don’t quite jive with our efforts to support at-risk children, youth cycling, and community resources like schools and fire departments.
Please do remit payment upon receipt. We are a flexible bunch, but would like to settle this considerable matter with as much swiftness as is possible.
All our best,
Director of Communications
Chief Officer, Risk Management
This, of course, was accompanied by an invoice for things I evidently am responsible for:
Here is the text from that invoice, just in case you don’t have Super Magnification Vision:
- Two nights, Motel 6 ($39.95/night): 79.90
- Damage deposit, vending machine: $450
- In-and-Out Burger, multiple meals: $43.15
- Pie: $8.79
- Round trip bus fare, Greyhound, Salt Lake City to Santa Rosa: $85
- Three nights, Holiday Inn Santa Rosa ($149.95/night): $449.85
- Minibar, mostly Butterfingers and Bud Light: $156
- Movie rentals, restricted content: $32
- Lump sum, incl. pie: $200
- Airfare to/from SLC/SFO, unscheduled layover in Las Vegas: $500
- Bike rental, NorCal Bike Sport: $200
- Two second-row seats, Doobie Brothers Reunion, Luther Burbank Center: $225
- Two sleeveless concert t-shirts, “Reeling In The Years”: $70
- Auction losses due to Mr. Nelson standing in front of various silent auction items, intimidating prospective bidders, because “this one’s going home with me, lady.”: $1750
- Fry Sauce at Festa del Fondo fundraising dinner, half case: $72.50
- 3.2% beer at Festa del Fondo fundraising dinner, 1.5 cases ($12.25, plus $250 air freight from Utah): $262.25
- Three nights, Hyatt Vineyard Creek ($259.95/night): $779.85
- Lump sum, incl. pie: $800
- Airfare to/from SLC/SFO, upgraded cabin: $1600
- California Dept. of Agriculture quarantine violation, excessive snacks brought on board: $345
- Town car transfer to/from hotel, including in-vehicle amenities: $275
- Bike rental, NorCal Bike Sport: $200
- In-room mariachi band: $750
- Three hours, contract review, Fat Cyclist appearance agreement: $435
- Removal of all brown M&Ms from in-room gift bag by legal team: $775
- Restocking fees, multiple (sweaty) used returns of GranFondo merchandise: $40
- Staff losses due to prank calls from Mr. Nelson during key event planning meetings, i.e. the refrigerator does not need to be caught, Prince Albert is not actually in the can, no one named I.P. Freely works at Bike Monkey.: $145
- Four nights, Hyatt Vineyard Creek penthouse ($625/night): $2500
- Room service, off-menu orders: $324
- In-room massage, plus gratuity: $588
- Pool cleaning fee: $1250
- Damage deposit, plumbing: $742
- Lump sum, incl. lots of pie: $1200
- Private charter, Sunlight Transportation Services: $7129
- Rental car, Wine Country Dream Cars: $1200
- Damage deposit, stained upholstery: $325
- Excess luggage services: $110
- Ambulance: $800
- Emergency outpatient surgery: $2435
- Small claims representation, plea consultation, bond, etc.: $1485
- Public relations costs stemming from message control regarding the GranFondo and its invited guests while in the Sonoma County area: $1290
2014 (Preliminary Measures)
- Law Enforcement Notification: $176.42
- Insurance Services, including naming lodging partner as additional insured, expanded policy coverage: $556
- Deposit loss, private security: $850
- Deposit loss, skydiving instructor: $180
- Custom Fat Cyclist-branded ankle bracelet/tracker: $675
GRAND TOTAL, WITH 2014 COSTS: $34,344.71
Looking at this itemized list, I am — as you would expect — outraged.
I could say that this list is a crazy, drug-induced lie. In fact, I would say that…except the Bike Monkey people evidently have surprisingly comprehensive documentation of pretty much every line item in that that invoice.
Which means I’ve got a problem. A $34,000 problem.
And I’m not sure what to do about it.
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