My Best Superpower: Randomly Selecting Inspiring Winners

12.8.2014 | 11:31 am

I have many superpowers. Too many to list, really. But among the most awesome and mysterious of these powers is the ability to select incredible and inspiring people from a very long list at random.

Honestly, I do not know how I do it. But I suspect this superpower is at its strongest when I am furthest from a yellow star, because I drew names for the winners of the Great Fatsby pre-order contest last weekend as we near Winter Solstice, and this power manifested itself in extraordinary ways. 

Here, let me show you how that works.

First Drawing

My contest drawings always start out kind of mundane. I start with a spreadsheet detailing who bought / donated what, then I do some Excel magic to assign everyone unique numbers corresponding to the chances they get in the contest.

And then I go to and have it pick a number corresponding to one of those chances. There’s a moment of excitement as I do this, and I think to myself, “Someone’s day just got amazing and they don’t even know it yet.”

Then I send an email to the winner. A short one that communicates the point that they won a prize, but avoiding language that is likely to make it wind up in the spam folder. I let them know that if they’re worried this might be a hoax, trick, or scam, they can call me personally.

In this case, I sent an email to the first person I drew—who comments on this blog as EsteeFatty—who then called me Sunday afternoon.

My excitement turned to disappointment when she said she wouldn’t be able to accept any prize. In her own words:

I won’t begin to try to explain how wondrously overwhelming it is to have won the contest. I love reading your blog and all of the comments and have been doing so for many years. It is an honor to be a part of a community that through you and Lisa have been doing so much good.

I always enter your contests and look forward to the excitement of the winner. I never once believed I would win, and now I have. Elden you will never know how sorry I am to say that I can not use a glorious Ibis cycle or the entry to the LT 100.

As I told you on the phone, my health just won’t permit it. I have 2 more rounds of chemo to do and then a follow up brain MRI. If there is no progression of the disease from the last scan the team will take me off chemo till the next test in May. 

Most days my longest trek is out to the mailbox. In honor of my annual participation in the 100 MON I make the walk back from the mailbox a longer route, Whenever I have to make an extra trip upstairs I just tell myself, “It’s another Fatty opportunity for exercise.” The extra effort is good for me and I am lucky to have you as a goad…er…inspiration that is.

On the phone, I told EsteeFatty that the prize was hers if she wants it, and she could give it to a friend or loved one, or have me do a new fundraiser against it, whatever she liked.

We talked together, promised to stay in touch, and then she asked me to choose another winner at random in her place.

Second Drawing

I had pick another number for me. This time it chose Halley from Portland. I sent the email and then—while I waited for her to reply with whether she wanted the bike or race, I looked her up on Facebook and saw this photo:


And then I was sure she’d choose the bike.

What I didn’t realize, however, was that Halley is a pretty extraordinary person who makes the world a better place for a living. Here’s what she said about herself:

I am a 28 year old cyclist with a rare form of epilepsy. I treat every day as an excuse to have an adventure and try something new. I write a blog of my trials and successes as a bike commuter, racer and camper and the complications that present themselves with living with a chronic disability at

I work with people transitioning from homelessness to housing. I am a life skills coordinator at a short-term transitional residential facility and my focus is in serving women veterans who are experiencing homelessness and assisting them with employment, education and volunteer opportunities in addressing their barriers to housing. 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and surprise by this. I definitely live paycheck to paycheck and large purchases are budgeted in for a long period of time. This is so amazing. Thank you.

Could anyone argue that Halley is not a perfect storm of awesomeness? I have to say, I am so excited that Halley won this bike.

However, there are two problems Halley must now confront:

  1. The reason she bought a book was as a Christmas present for her boyfriend…who now knows what he’s getting for Christmas.
  2. She does not yet know which Ibis she should get. A terrible choice to have to make. Feel free to offer guidance in this area.

Third Drawing

Now I was ready to do the third drawing. I went to, had it pick a number, and then looked that number up on my spreadsheet.

Sarah Barber. Hm. That name seemed familiar. I yelled out to The Hammer, “Someone named ‘Sarah Barber’ won the entry into the Leadville 100. Do we know anyone by that name?” 

“Yes!” The Hammer called.

As it turns out, The Hammer and Sarah had met at Rebecca’s Private Idaho last September.

Specifically, they had met on the podium—Sarah taking first, The Hammer taking second. 

IMG 9684  Version 2

To be honest, I had been worried about whether the person who won the Leadville entry would be able to do this race—whether winning this prize would be a sentence to a day of misery.

With Sarah winning this prize, I’m no longer even a little bit concerned about this. She is going to be awesome

Here’s what Sarah has to say about herself:

I’m a Life Flight paramedic and have been for nine years, but I moonlight as an endurance athlete. I discovered cycling only as an alternative to running, which is my true passion but not a natural talent, at least not as far as I can see.

Over time, I have grown to love cycling as much as I love running, but in a different way. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to compete, most recently as a member of the domestic elite women’s team DNA Cycling p/b K4 Racing.

Photo 2

My specialty has always been time trialing, but after doing my first gravel ginder at the end of the 2014 season, I have begun to wonder if I should try another one. I love riding on dirt because it reminds me of trail running, but I am woefully inept when it comes to technical skills and descents.

Rebecca’s Private Idaho was my longest bike ride ever–road or dirt–so I’m a little bummed it didn’t quite tally 100 miles. However, I’m guessing the Leadville Trail 100 is not even half a mile short. The idea of participating in it is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating, but winning the entry via a random drawing is a dream come true–a dream I didn’t know I had until I felt like I could describe it that way.

I know I’ll need a lot of help preparing, but I’m lucky to have a great team of supporters at home, including my husband and my two dogs, none of whom are bike riders.

Photo 4

They are my biggest fans, though, and sometimes that is enough. Next year, during the moments when I’m not training for Leadville or at work, I’ll be doing other fun things like drinking wine, trying out new recipes on the Traeger, and having Sportsmobile adventures as part of my husband’s latest project.

I’m completely stoked to have Sarah win this prize, but I think The Hammer is even more excited. Sarah’s based in Idaho and comes down to Utah from time to time, so some LT100 training rides together are definitely going to have to go on their plan. 

I hope they let me tag along. 

(Sarah will be glad to know, I’m sure, that the Leadville 100 is 104 miles long.)

What We Did

Of course, every book and jersey you pre-ordered, along with the donations you made, helped raise money for World Bicycle Relief. And we raised enough money to fund thirty new Buffalo bicycles, which WBR awesomely posted on their Facebook page


I’ll let you in on a little secret: my theory is that my superpower isn’t drawing great people at random from a long list. My superpower is having the good fortune to have an innumerable number of good and generous friends. Any time I choose a few of you from a list to win something, I always wind up astonished at how inspiring you are.

Thank you.


  1. Comment by rb | 12.8.2014 | 11:44 am

    Congrats to all! To the winners, to you Fatty for making the world a more awesome place, and the WBR for creating and running such a great organization!

  2. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 12.8.2014 | 11:51 am

    Too cool for words, even from me.
    Hope we’ll see Haley in Ketchum on her new Hakalugi, and that EsteeFatty will, one day be able to join us at a round up!


  3. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 12.8.2014 | 12:13 pm

    Well, another lottery fantasy has run its course. But the beauty of losing your contests is seeing who the awesome winners are, and feeling a little joy and pride in being part of your extraordinary efforts to make the world (including mine) a better place. Bravo Zulu to you and The Hammer!

  4. Comment by Charlie Young | 12.8.2014 | 12:16 pm

    Actually, Fatty, the Earth is closer to the Sun around the Winter Solstice than during the Summer Solstice. Our seasons have more to do with the inclination of the Earth’s rotational axis relative to the orbital plane around the Sun.

    Still love your Superpowers, though!

  5. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate) | 12.8.2014 | 12:33 pm

    That makes me feel just fine about being a looser! :D

  6. Comment by Papa Bear | 12.8.2014 | 12:36 pm

    Fatty, I’m happy for the winners, and even more happy that my wife and I giving each other your wool jersey for Christmas was able to fund one of those bikes! I look forward to the release of the Great Fatsby with baited breath – and bait tastes horrible, so I hope it comes out SOON!

  7. Comment by leroy | 12.8.2014 | 12:40 pm

    EsteeFatty — you are awesome!

  8. Comment by Brian in VA | 12.8.2014 | 12:45 pm

    Big, big smiles here! Thanks Fatty!

  9. Comment by Clydesteve | 12.8.2014 | 12:47 pm

    Fatty, by furthest from a yellow star, are you referring to the distance to the nearest Carl’s Jr.?

  10. Comment by bacmapei | 12.8.2014 | 12:48 pm

    The pride of participating in such a positive online community far outshines the brief thought of “darn, didn’t win”. Congrats to each of the winners. I’m still very stuck on EsteeFatty’s very selfless act. To step aside and ask Fatty to draw another name is pretty inspiring. If there’s an update naming a local organization that has supported her treatment or another cause close to her heart, I would like to make a donation as a token thanks for her generosity.

  11. Comment by Cyclingjimbo | 12.8.2014 | 1:10 pm

    Bravo! Brava! EsteeFatty, you rock and rest assured we will all be thinking of you and wishing the best for your test results. Halley and Sarah are more evidence that there are a lot of good people out there, and Fatty has attracted many of them to be his friends and followers. Congratulations!

    I second @bacmapei’s sentiment. What goes around comes around. Give us an update please, Fatty.

  12. Comment by MattC | 12.8.2014 | 1:50 pm

    My brief selfish moment of sadness (at not winning the bike) was quickly overwhelmed by happiness for Sarah, and yet simultaneously sadness at EsteeFatty’s current fight and turning down the bike due to health. Kind of makes any tough moments in my life (thus far) seem rather pathetic by comparison.

    Sarah, ENJOY the bike and keep Fatty updated on your fun with it (so he can update US).

    EsteeFatty, keep up the fight and know that your Fatty-family is thinking of you and sending you all the healing-power that we are able. I hope to see you out on the road/trail one day, healthy and vibrant and enjoying life to the fullest. Here’s hoping you get taken off chemo soon, and your next test in May is clear.

  13. Comment by Tom in Albany | 12.8.2014 | 1:56 pm

    Congratulations to all of the winners!!!

    and, all of the best to EsteeFattee!

  14. Comment by Corrine | 12.8.2014 | 4:16 pm

    Wow! Perfect people to win the prizes, you couldn’t have chosen better. Congrats to all of you and wishing the best to EsteeFattee.

  15. Comment by Fellowfattychris | 12.8.2014 | 4:16 pm

    Congrats to the well deserved winners!

    Although many of us didn’t win the big prizes I believe that anyone who participated in this are all winners. We all get a great book, gear, and the positive vibes knowing that in doing so we helped out a great cause.

    EsteeFatty, our thoughts and prayers are with you. I believe you will have some good karma on your side as well.

  16. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 12.8.2014 | 4:53 pm


    I have some Lottery numbers I’d like your opinion on….

  17. Comment by Jeff Bike | 12.8.2014 | 5:30 pm

    “I have something in my eye, it happens every time.”
    Fatty’s people are just the best. That is why Fatty can only draw awesomely great people at random. His real superpower is to attract so many truly wonderful friends.

  18. Comment by BIKELEPTIC | 12.8.2014 | 6:00 pm

    This is Halley!

    Thank you Fatty for making this a reality. And thank you EsteeFatty. I don’t know who would have been picked for 2nd if you had chosen to take your gift. Probably not me. It was a random generator after all. And had I been chosen 2nd and the bike was chosen by the other person, I’m in no shape to ride the Leadville Trail 100 (though I might have tried out of stubbornness.) You have made my Christmas amazing. If there is anything I can do to help you EsteeFatty, please contact me. I have very little money to help with your medical bills (because trust me, I have tons of my own!), but I can cook, clean, play the harp, am awesome moral support, can run errands, act as an official advocate in social service situations and more.

  19. Pingback by The Gift of the Fatty | BIKELEPTIC | 12.8.2014 | 6:05 pm

    [...] I get something really inspiring written about me on Fat Cyclist website. And I am getting a new Ibis bike. Say What!? That’s right. This is some freaking Gift of the [...]

  20. Comment by esteefatty | 12.8.2014 | 9:29 pm

    I am overwhelmed with the kind thoughts from you fellow Friends of Fatty and the fabulously awesome Nelson family. I am so happy that Halley and Sarah won the drawing. I am looking forward to hearing about the new Ibis. I always like reading Elden’s & Lisa’s posts about the LT 100 and this time we will have Sarah to root for too. I truly can’t express what it means to me to be so welcomed by people I’ve come to know through years of comments; Matt C., Cycling Jimbo, Leroy all of you,and now Halley just thanks. Please don’t worry about me, I am doing OK. I am lucky to have access to a very good medical team. My husband of 39 yrs. is way beyond wonderful and one of my beloved sisters lives just up the road. I do hope to get to a Fatty gathering sometime. bacmapei I have just two words (besides thanks) to say about what I’d like and that’s “More Buffaloes” for WBR.All the best, keep riding.

  21. Comment by BamaJim | 12.8.2014 | 9:31 pm

    Worthy winners all! Good use of your superpower.

  22. Comment by Jeremy | 12.8.2014 | 11:22 pm

    Huzzah for the winners and huzzah for grand champion, EsteeFatty! Amazing stories, all!

  23. Comment by daddy style | 12.9.2014 | 9:15 am

    Smiling. The world works in wonderful ways

  24. Comment by Ian | 12.9.2014 | 2:27 pm

    Amazing stuff. What a great story!

  25. Comment by SuomiTri | 12.9.2014 | 9:26 pm

    Whoever won the Boggs races?

  26. Comment by Heidi | 12.10.2014 | 11:32 am

    Congratulations to the winners – I love, LOVE the way this all worked out. (Elden, did you hear harp music when you and the Random Number Generator chose the winners?) Sending healing wishes for esteefatty.

  27. Comment by Julia | 12.10.2014 | 11:40 am

    I was either crying or smiling as I read this post, Fatty! Esteefatty, sending prayers for healing your way and congratulations to Hally and Sarah.

  28. Comment by esteefatty | 12.10.2014 | 2:22 pm

    Thank you all so much. Reading my Kindle version of Fatty’s new book this morning. Big grin and chuckles galore.


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