Ringcycles Wins Fat Cyclist Weight Loss Contest

07.7.2014 | 7:58 am

A Note from Fatty: Greetings from Emerald Isle, North Carolina!

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I’m on vacation right now — on the beach with The Hammer, the kids, my mom, her husband, my four sisters, their husbands, their kids, and in some cases their kids. All of us — thirty-one of us! — in one huge house right on the beach (this photo was taken from the deck off my bedroom), kind of jammed in together and having a great time.

I plan to be be posting this week, but you know, I might be kind of tardy and lazy sometimes. And other times I might feel like writing a ton. You never know with vacations.

But I will say this: Sometime this week I’ll be launching registration for the 100 Miles of Nowhere. And we’ve got a date: October 18 (though of course you can do yours earlier or later…that’s the beauty of the 100 Miles of Nowhere). And for the first time ever, instead of a t-shirt, there will be a 100 Miles of Nowhere jersey. This will be in place of the normal annual Fat Cyclist jersey. Why? Because I started thinking about it and thought to myself, “I wish I had a 100 Miles of Nowhere jersey to wear.”

So, more information on that, soon. Really soon. Like, Wednesday, I think.

Next, I’m waaaay overdue on posting about the Fat Cyclist / Beeminder Weight Loss challenge. Luckily, my friends at Beeminder are more responsible than I am, and have written a very awesome wrap-up of the contest. Which is below. Enjoy!

(And now I’m off to go order a pair of Rapha bib shorts for the winner.)

Ringcycles Wins Fat Cyclist Weight Loss Contest


Greetings not-so-fat cyclists! We’re pretty much beside ourselves with how the first annual (oh presumption!) Beeminder Fat Cyclist Weight Loss Competition turned out. When we say we’re beside ourselves we mean that literally — Beeminder is a husband-and-wife team and we hack on it day and night shoulder-to-shoulder. Ok, but also figuratively beside ourselves. This thing had everything: drama and suspense on the leaderboard, you all lost a ton of weight, and we raised just over $4000 for The Hammer’s World Bicycle Relief fundraising.

And when we say you all lost a ton of weight we mean that literally too. (We’re very literal. It’s a programmer thing.) To be exact, you lost a total of 1912 pounds, or 14 pounds per person.

Let’s back up for those just tuning in. In March Fatty announced a new kind of weight loss contest using Beeminder where the objective would be consistent progress, not about how much you could lose or how fast. There’s a shorter version on the Beeminder blog. The extra short version is that you create a Yellow Brick Road to your goal weight — totally up to you to pick it — and then you get points each day you weigh in based on how closely you hew to your chosen path. Importantly, you get fewer points for losing weight faster than you intended. As for what good the points were, we’ll get to that.

To limit the contest to those who were ready to take it seriously, Fatty decided on a $20 ante to charity. That’s where most of the $4000 we raised came from — more than $3000 of it. As for the rest of it, well, this is the crazy part. Losing weight too fast cost you points. But actually failing to lose weight? That cost you money. Not the first time, that one’s free, but each subsequent time you derailed, as we call it, from your Yellow Brick Road, you coughed up ever greater penalties: $5, $10, $30, $90, etc. Normally those penalties are Beeminder’s revenue. For this contest we donated half of them to World Bicycle Relief.

Of course the top competitors never went off track. And that brings us to the exciting part. I hope you’re imagining a drum roll right now. Ringcycles eked out a victory with a near perfect score of 304 points. His prize is a pair of Rapha Classic Bib Shorts, courtesy of Fatty himself.

The contest started out slow, the pack holding together like a peloton. But the competition thinned over the course of the first few weeks, and eventually we got down to just a handful of people vying for the top slot. Mukrider and Actionplant held out longest with perfect scores, but eventually slipped. Ringcycles started out with a couple datapoints below the road so didn’t appear as a top contender at first, but then his subsequent rock solid consistency eventually paid off. Nobody else ended up as close to a perfect score (306 points).

Honorable mention goes to third place, Dena, who had some serious medical issues to contend with but anticipated them almost flawlessly. When her doctor put her on a clear liquid diet, she adjusted the steepness of her Yellow Brick Road accordingly (you’re always allowed to do that with Beeminder, the catch being that any changes have a one-week delay). The most impressive part is that she’s still forging ahead now that the contest is over. Check out that graph!

That brings us to our final plea. The contest was structured to encourage you to lose weight steadily, following the path you set out for yourself, i.e., staying on Beeminder’s yellow brick road. We wanted to encourage sustainable weight loss, rather than just dropping weight like The Hammer dropping Fatty on the descent at Frog Hollow.

So even though the contest is over, we want to encourage you to continue minding your weight. If you’re now at your ideal weight, set your yellow brick road flat, and keep weighing in, to ensure you don’t squander all this progress. You can even set your road to slope up during vacations or holidays if you’re ok with gaining weight during those times. The pattern we’ve seen over and over is that as soon as you stop minding your weight, it starts creeping up.


Meet Heidi from Montana, the Gooseberry Yurt Vacation Winner

05.12.2014 | 9:49 am

I love doing posts like this. Posts where I get to introduce you to contest winners. Because, for some reason, pretty much every Fat Cyclist contest winner winds up being an awesome human being.

Maybe it’s cuz the kind of person who is willing to donate money to a great cause is just unlikely to not be a great person.

Hey, I’m not going to overanalyze it. I’m just going to be grateful. 

And I’m going to introduce you to Heidi from Montana, the winner of The Hammer’s Weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief.

Heidi with her niece, on top of Mount Sentinel.

I’m really excited for Heidi to be the winner of this contest, for a bunch of reasons, including (but not limited to):

  • She’s donated in every single WBR fundraiser I’ve done. It’s really fun to be able to reward that kind of consistency, generosity, and kindness.
  • She’s a hiker. Heidi doesn’t ride — doesn’t even have a bike. She loves hiking. And — in a stroke of pure luck — she’s won the first contest we’ve ever done that doesn’t have a bike as a prize, or a trip to a bike-style event…but instead has a trip to a place that’s every bit as perfect for someone who loves hiking as biking. Even more perfectly, both The Hammer and I love hiking too, and are absolutely positively stoked to show off some of the amazing hiking trails at Zion National Park, as well as around Gooseberry Mesa.
  • She’s super-duper nice. I haven’t met Heidi in real life, but I’ve been watching over The Hammer’s shoulder as the two of them have traded email. I’m going to use some of that email exchange to introduce you to Heidi, but basically: she’s a kind, easygoing, and interesting person. 

So here’s a little bit about Heidi, in her own words:

Okay, now that I’ve recovered somewhat from the lovely surprise, I should thank you profusely and introduce myself.  

I’m Heidi, a yarn dyer living in Missoula Montana.  I first became acquainted with Elden’s blog quite some time back when one of his posts was listed as a favorite on Schmutzie’s Five Star Fridays, where readers could post outstanding blog entries they’d read that week.  Elden was caring for Susan, and his writing was so very eloquent.  

I’ve been a fan ever since, even though–dare I admit it?–I don’t even own a bike.  There, I said it. 

I do hike, though! I logged 118 hikes last year. The photo above was taken a few weeks ago when my “Montana Niece” took me to the top of Mount Sentinel.  (The area I usually hike is in the middle left expanse.)  Yes, I definitely felt my thighs the next day.

WBR is one of my favorite groups to donate to. This is a program that brings such obvious, positive change to people’s lives, and my hat goes off to the people who have worked so hard to make it happen. Writing a check to a big organization is one thing, but seeing the photos of people with their new bikes, well, that makes it real.  I’m in!  And hey,  just think–because of it I get to meet Fatty and the Hammer!  Life just gets better and better.

For our part, The Hammer and I are both really excited to show Heidi views like this:


And this:


A big thanks goes out to everyone who donated in The Hammer’s first big fundraiser — thanks to you, she raised enough to buy 132 bikes for kids and caregivers in Zambia!

Guest Post from The Hammer: Caregivers and WBR

04.28.2014 | 10:59 am

A Note from Fatty: My 6 Hours in Frog Hollow race report is taking a break for a couple days because we’re down to the last couple days of The Hammer’s Gooseberry Yurt WBR fundraiser, and she has a more important story to tell. (And if you’re ready to donate, by the way, click here.)

When I’m not riding my bike, running or making dinner for my very large family, I spend about 24 hours a week at work. My official work–or job–is an RN.

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I work in the acute pain service at two very large, busy hospitals in my area.

I think I have the greatest job in the world. I work with a great group of doctors, nurses and patients. I work directly with anesthesia. We perform regional blocks and epidurals for surgical patients. We also visit with these patients and adjust pain meds as needed.

On a typical work day, I hop in my car and drive either six miles or twenty miles–depending on which hospital I’m working at for the day.


I then care for approximately 20 patients during the course of my day. Once at work, the amount of walking I do is minimal. I usually take the elevator up…and the stairs down (yes, I am quite lazy). It’s safe to say that I don’t have to work very hard to access the 20 patients in my care.

I have friends that have chosen to take their nursing careers into the home health setting. An RN in the home health setting might see 1-5 patients per day, seeing each patient a couple of times a week. These nurses may travel 2-30 miles between patients. They provide basic nursing care: wound care, vital sign checks, etc. They get paid for gas and an hourly wage. They probably spend less time walking than I do. 

Meet Theresa

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, there are people like Theresa.


She is a “caregiver” in a village in Zambia. She lives in a village that covers  many square miles. She has no formal education. She has no car. But she does have a kind, giving heart.

She cares deeply about the people in her village. She sacrifices time away from her family and home chores to visit with people in need in her village. She provides the whole range of nursing care from wound care and bathing, to delivery of babies and assessing villagers who are sick and afflicted with a variety of diseases — like sickle cell anemia and AIDS, just to name a couple that I saw firsthand.

She provides counseling and a listening ear to people who are sad and struggling. She does chores around her patients huts-collecting water from the well, cleaning etc. The title Caregiver sums Theresa up beautifully. She cares, and she gives care.

And without help, people like her spend a lot of her time walking.

Theresa’s patients live many miles apart. The nearest clinic may be several miles away. She may see only a few patients a day, because the majority of Theresa’s day is spent en route: Walking miles, most likely on an empty stomach. She doesn’t have the luxury of opening a Honey Stinger Waffle or a GU to help her energy level as she walks.

We Can Help

By helping World Bicycle Relief provide caregivers like Theresa with bikes, they can double — if not triple — the amount of patients they can see in a day. They can then spend more time with their patients…as well as with their own families.

Since getting a WBR Buffalo Bike, Theresa’s productivity has increased exponentially. When Fatty and I were in Zambia, Theresa shared a story with us about how she was able to put a laboring lady on the back of her bike and get her to the clinic in time to deliever a healthy baby. Theresa then rode back out to the village to care for a sick patient with AIDS who ended up needing medication. Theresa was able to hop back on her bike and return to the clinic to pick up needed medicine. If not for the bike, she wouldn’t have been able to perform any of these activities.

Meet Lackson

Meet Lackson.

Lackson in his home kitchen

Lackson is a newlywed and a caregiver. He took us to see one of his patients and his family. The patient has sickle cell anemia: a very painful condition that goes through periods of remission and exacerbations.


This young boy — Louis, on the left in the above photo — can become critically ill quickly and may require hospitalization for multiple blood transfusions and pain meds. His family consists of his mom and brother. There is no father in the home. A lot of adult males in Zambia have passed away from HIV leaving their families destitute. Lackson has become this surrogate father for Louis.

Many patients that the caregivers will see have been affected by HIV in one way or another. The AIDS crisis has had a devastating effect on the people of Zambia. More than 16% of adult Zambians live with disease. More than 800,000 Zambian children are orphaned because of the disease. Antiviral medication is becoming more readily available, which can prolong the life expectancy of these people. The caregivers provide the mechanism for many of these people to receive their medications.

Last week we took our family to Village Inn — a pancake house. We easily spent more than $134 there. Next time, I’m going to propose we skip the restaurant, make our own pancakes at home — and send the money to help WBR and the wonderful caregivers in Zambia.

Your Chance to Help…And (Maybe) to Win

So far, my Weekend at Gooseberry fundraiser for WBR has earned enough to buy 64 bikes. That is awesome

But you know what? I’d love to raise enough for 100 bikes. 

And now we’re down to the last few days of April, after which I draw a winner. So if you haven’t made a donation (or if you have made a donation but have the money to make another), now’s the time. You can find the details for this contest by clicking here, but the short version is this: For every $5 you donate, you’ll get a chance at winning an incredible weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt. We’ll fly you out there, then either hike, ride, or just hang out and read. It’ll be incredible, relaxing, and incredibly relaxing.

But even if you don’t win, you’re going to help a caregiver — or a student — in Zambia do more good and travel farther than they otherwise ever could. And that’s an amazing thing to be able to say.

So thanks for your donation!

Weight Loss Update: One Good…I Mean REALLY BAD…Weekend Can Spoil Everything

04.14.2014 | 1:06 pm

I’ve been planning to do an update on the Fatty / Beeminder Weight Loss Challenge for a while now. In fact, I was excited about it, because while it’s not like I’m high up on the Leaderboard, I’ve been doing really well. I mean, check out my progress on my Beeminder chart:


As you can see, I’ve been dropping weight, nice and steadily. Sure, it bounces around a little from day to day, but I’ve been staying on the yellow brick road. And for the past few days, I’ve even been on the low side (which is the “good” side) of the yellow brick road. 

In fact, I had hit my halfway point: 164 pounds. Nine down, nine to go. 

Thus, I had every intention of doing a little boasting today. 

Spoiler alert: there will be no boasting today.

Disaster (AKA The Hammer’s Birthday) Strikes

Last Saturday was The Hammer’s birthday. She turned 46. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “What are you doing, revealing her age on your very public and award-winning blog?” 

Well, if The Hammer were normal, that might be a problem. But she’s not normal. Not even remotely. 

For her “birthday party,” for example, she wanted to go on a big mountain bike ride. So we did. A 41.7-mile, 6,000 feet-of-climbing mountain bike ride. 

The Hammer got seven new QOMs. And she looked like this afterward. 

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When you can ride like that and look like that at age 46, you don’t need to hide your age. 

Anyway, after the ride, we decided that between it being her birthday and the big ride we had just done, we deserved to go out to eat. So we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Settebello, where we met The IT Guy and ordered the following:

  • A Caprese salad
  • An Insalata Grande
  • Focaccia
  • A Margherita pizza
  • A Settebello pizza
  • A Vico pizza
  • 3 Diet Cokes. Seriously.

That is, for three people, a lot of food. But, you know, we had ridden hard. We were hungry. It was — as I have mentioned –The Hammer’s birthday.

So we didn’t feel too badly about it.

Then we said goodbye to The IT Guy, and drove back from SLC to Utah County, where we decided that — just this once — we deserved to get dessert.

So we went to The Chocolate.

Usually (yes, we’ve been there a few [cough, cough] times before), we split a dessert: almost always a white chocolate macadamia nut Cazookie, which is a giant fresh-baked cookie in a pan of its own with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

But it was The Hammer’s birthday.

So we each — and I am not exaggerating — got one of our own. 

And that was stupid. 

By the time The Hammer got through about half of hers, she was done. She pushed it aside, not feeling great. 

So I finished hers (along with mine, of course) for her.

Disaster, Part 2

The next morning, I told The Hammer, “There is no way I am going to step on the scale today. I just don’t want to see the bad news.”

As it turns out, I probably should have stepped on the scale. Perhaps a small dose of bad news would have served as a reminder that there’s no such thing as consequence-free eating for me.

In which case, perhaps I would have skipped eating the cake and ice cream at The Hammer’s family birthday party that evening. 

Or at the very least…I wouldn’t have had seconds.

And I probably would have avoided snacking on the (very delicious) leftover saffron-and-butter rice as I cleaned up the dishes after dinner.

Oh, how I wish I were making any of this up.


Which brings us today, and me getting back on the scale. Allow me to show you how that looked in Beeminder:


See that tiny red dot waaaaaaay above the yellow brick road? That, my friends, is what a 4.6 pound jump looks like. 

Yes, over the weekend, I gained 4.6 pounds. And as you can see, that puts me two pounds off the yellow brick road. And I have ’til midnight tonight to get back on it, or pay the $5 fine. 

Will I do it? I really don’t know. I will tell you that I am currently quite hungry. And that I furthermore had an awful lot of caffeine this morning, which facilitates rapid (albeit temporary) weight loss in at least a couple of ways I’m aware of. 

But there is a silver lining, if you can call it that. And that is this, The Hammer’s weigh-in for today:


You know how they say “Misery loves company?” Well, that is never more true than when you have a sudden and sharp weight gain. 

And while her gain puts her into — as opposed to below — the yellow brick road, that’s still a 4.2 pound gain. Which doesn’t exactly take away the sting of my embarrassment. 

But it certainly helps.

PS: For those of you who are doing the challenge: How’s it going? Anyone else having monster weight spikes following a night on the town?

Give a Smile, Win an Incredible Cycling Weekend Full of Smiles

04.7.2014 | 9:49 pm

Last week I stumbled upon my pictures of my trip to Africa.

Two years ago, Elden and our two teenage children — Melisa and Brice — were given the opportunity to visit Zambia and see firsthand the efforts of World Bicycle Relief. As I scanned over the pictures on the computer I was reminded of their smiles.


The Zambian people have amazing smiles.


The pictures instantly brought a smile to my face. “What an amazing people,” I thought. “These people that have very little worldly possessions have the most authentic smiles I’ve ever seen.”

It’s easy to forget how truly blessed we are to live in a country that provides so much for us. Meanwhile, the people of rural Zambia consider themselves fortunate when they have clean water to drink, a clean hole in the ground for a bathroom, a roof over their heads, and a school to attend (even if its more than a three mile walk each way just to attend it).

The very real and pressing concerns they have to think about don’t even register on our conciousness. In our world, all these necessities are taken care of and taken for granted — so we can worry about more important things like fancy cars, fancy bikes and fancy places to live. 

Making a Difference

The “Power of Bicycles” is WBR’s slogan. WBR provides bikes to young Zambian girls and caregivers in rural Zambia. By providing bicycles for these young girls, we are providing them with a future.


Before receiving their bikes, they sign a contract promising to use their bike for transportation to and from school. These will enable them to spend the time it takes to walk to and from school, to spend on their studies.

Having a form of transportation allows them to be more productive in their chores around the village and lessens some of the burden placed upon them in collecting water from the well and making the trek into the market.

I also love the fact that WBR provides bikes to the caregivers of the village. As a nurse I can sympathize with the plight of these good people who are trying to care for the people in the area.


These caregivers could end up walking for hours each day and only be able to see a few people. The bicycle enables them to move between patients much quicker.

Leaving My Comfort Zone

A few months ago, Elden came to me with the idea of becoming an athlete ambassador for World Bicycle Relief. My immediate response was NO WAY! I’m a very shy, introverted person. I don’t like to be the center of attention — I’d rather fade into the background.

But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered the smiles of the people of Zambia, and I started to change my mind.

How could I pass this opportunity by? That would be the selfish thing to do. If I could possibly help bring one of those smiles I love so much to some young person’s face in Zambia, how could I pass up the opportunity? I needed to come out of my comfort zone and help!

So here I am, asking you to help me bring a smile to some young people in Zambia. Lets come out of all of our comfort zones and bring a smile to at least 120 Zambian kids by providing bicycles to them.

Smiles for Them, Smiles for You

I would like to bring a smile to one of your faces, too. Specifically, I want to take you mountain biking and/or hiking in beautiful southern Utah.

And one lucky person who donates at my fundraising page between now and the end of April is going to win an amazing weekend riding (or hiking, or running, or just enjoying the beauty of the place) at Gooseberry Mesa, staying and hanging out with Fatty and me, as we give you the full on Best-Friends-of-Fatty-and-The-Hammer treatment. 

Here’s what we’re gonna do. 

First of all, we’ll find a weekend (or possibly some weekdays — we’ll find something) that works for all of us. Probably this Autumn or next Spring, when it’s not miserably hot in Southern Utah.

Next, I will fly you out to Utah and we will spend the weekend at and around the Gooseberry Yurt. Last week, Elden and I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in the Gooseberry Yurt. Elden spent a considerable amount of time bragging it up. And I would have to agree with everything he said! What an awesome place to spend a few days.

I have to admit, though, that mountain biking on Gooseberry Mesa is NOT my favorite type of riding. I prefer to keep the skin on my arms and legs intact…not left in small quantities all over the rocks on the mesa.

But I cannot say enough about the beauty of the place. You don’t need to be a biker to enjoy it.

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I actually went on a trail run. I loved enjoying the views from the mesa as I ran along the edge.

So if you’re wondering: no…you don’t have to be an absolute technical hardcore virtuoso to enjoy a weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt.

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All you have to do is love being outside and going on walks, or hikes, or reading a good book in a beautiful, secluded, private place. 

Or If you are more my style of mountain biker and actually enjoy a climb on your bike — followed by a swooping fun descent — the gooseberry yurt is only a mere 20 minute drive to the famous Hurricane Rim Trail/Gem trailhead, Where you can enjoy a beautiful moderately technical mountain bike ride.

And we are less than an hour away from the entrance of Zion National Park, where the hiking and spectacular views cannot be oversold.

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The view from Angel’s Landing. A scary hike, but we’ll take you there if you want!

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The hike to Observation Point is unimaginably beautiful. Even Fatty couldn’t take a bad picture here.

Or if you’re like Fatty and Kenny and love riding on technical sandstone, they’ll take good care of you. I might even come along and ride too…for a little while.

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When you try tricky moves, sometimes it’s helpful to get a spot…just in case.

And we’re going to take care of food for you, too: I’ll get Fatty to boil and grill you his famous bratwurst. I’ll make a kick-butt quiche. We’ll have burgers, done right. Or if you’ve got a more vegetarian bent, we’ll have Heather cook for you.

If you need a bike, we’ll set you up with a very nice one to borrow for the trip — you won’t need to break down and ship your own. 

Basically, we’re going to take very, very good care of you and give you an incredibly fun, relaxing weekend at one of the most beautiful places you could ever imagine.

But you can’t win unless you go to my donation page and donate. And for every $5.00 you donate between now and the end of this month (April), you’ll get a chance at this prize.

So, you’re giving a Zambian girl a great opportunity — and lots of smiles — and you’re getting a shot at a weekend I promise you’re going to love.

That should put a big fat grin on your face, right?

One Last Thing

Oh, just in case you need one more reason to donate: My birthday is this week and I would love nothing more than a simple $5 donation to WBR

That would make me smile!

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