I think it’s pretty obvious that I haven’t been posting very often lately. I haven’t really explained why, because I had hoped I wouldn’t need to.
But I’ve reached a point where it’s obvious that something’s wrong, and I feel like I owe you an explanation. And, quite honestly, an apology.
Then Vs. Now
Really, the signs have been obvious to anyone who would care to observe them. Which, I guess, just goes to show that people prefer not to see some things.
All you really need to do is look at my results for the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race.
For fifteen years, I tried and tried (and tried and tried and tried) to finish in under nine hours. And I never did. I never even really came close. The best time I ever finished with was 9:13. And that was just once, when I was in my early thirties.
I was a lot more likely to finish in around 9:30. Or 10:00. Or even 10:20. That’s nothing to be ashamed of — those are all good finishing times. Times many people — most people — would be proud of.
And then, three years ago, I finished in 8:18. As I noted at the time, that was nearly a full hour faster than my previous best. In spite of the fact that I was now in my mid-forties, a full decade older than the prime of my life.
The next year, I finished in under nine hours again — this time winning the singlespeed division. And then the following year — last year — I did the race in 8:25. That’s only seven minutes slower than my previous best…and this time I did it on a singlespeed. At the age of 47.
You think I got that much faster just because of the bike? Yeah. Right.
But it hasn’t just been at Leadville that I’ve suddenly—almost unbelievably—gotten faster.
Last year, I took time off Kenny’s best times at the Rockwell Relay for every single leg of the race. I beat him in the Crusher in the Tushars, too. I took a podium spot in what was my rookie 25 hour singlespeed race.
At Rebecca’s Private Idaho last year, there was exactly one person who beat me in the first KOM climb that day: Levi Leipheimer.
Yeah, things have obviously changed since I began this blog almost exactly nine years ago when I started this blog because I was so fat I had to push my bike up an easy hill.
Things have changed significantly. Like I’m a cycling fairy tale. My results have been too good to be true.
And if any of us have learned anything in the past couple years, it’s that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
I am the kind of person who goes after things he wants. And I wanted to finish Leadville in under nine hours very, very badly.
But — after fifteen tries — it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.
I distinctly remember my friend Dug telling me one time after I had finished yet another Leadville in around 9:20, “Not everyone is built to go fast. You’ve hit your ceiling. You’re as fast as you’re going to get. Stop beating yourself up about it.”
I had to agree with part of what Dug said: I had hit my ceiling. But I hated that ceiling.
And I knew there were ways to break through ceilings.
So I looked into EPO. And testosterone. And immediately knew…I had to look elsewhere. That stuff was expensive. The money I make by blogging certainly wouldn’t cover that kind of thing.
Amphetamines, on the other hand, are surprisingly affordable, and remarkably easy to obtain.
I wasn’t worried about being tested. As near as I can tell, nobody tests at any events I do — there’s no money for winners. And — I told myself — it wasn’t like I was really cheating anyone. I wasn’t going to get on any podiums. I just wanted to finish under nine hours.
But then I did start winning stuff (or at least getting on the podium). And — bonus — I found that my weight was dropping. And to a guy like me, those two amazing facts were enough to overcome any minor ethical issues I might have had when I first started.
I don’t know if I even really need to write the rest of this. You know how it goes. I found that being faster on races made me want to be faster on training rides. And in fact, if I didn’t take something before a ride, I wasn’t able to keep up with The Hammer.
And then my teeth started falling out, which is less obvious (but more permanent) than the scabs I’m always picking at on my face now.
And then I lost my job a few months ago. Yeah, I said I quit so I could write more, but I think it’s pretty obvious that all my ads are freebies I give to friends; this blog doesn’t make me any money whatsoever. Never has.
In fact, I’ve had to sell several of my bikes just to keep up with house and meth payments. At the current rate, I’ve only got enough bikes to last me a few more months before I’m down to just one mountain bike, a road bike, and a time trial bike.
So. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I have deceived you. I’m sorry I doped.
More than anything else, though, I’m sorry I need to ask you to donate $20 to help me continue my habit. You see, I hope to get a sub-8 at Leadville this year, which means I kind of need to step up my game, and I think meth has taken me as far as it can.
I’m going to need to try some new things, and that’s going to take money. And while I could try a Kickstarter campaign, I’d rather just come out and ask directly.
So: please click here to donate. Thank you. And again, I’m sorry.
Oh, hi there. A bunch of us just got back from a nice weekend of luxury camping and mountain biking on Gooseberry Mesa, just outside of St. George, Utah.
I can now say, with absolute conviction, that yurt camping is exponentially more awesome than any other kind of camping. Especially when you’re staying right on top of one of the most highly-acclaimed mountain bike trails in the known universe: Gooseberry Mesa.
Here’s a little video I made of the weekend:
In the next couple days, I’ll be telling the story of the weekend…and describing a little contest where you can join us for a little slice of luxury mountain biking / camping yourself.
’Til then, if you’re interested in learning more about the Gooseberry Yurt (and maybe renting it yourself), click here.
A Note from Fatty:
End of week approaches
I am excitement
To ride with friends
On perfect trail
I just can’t even.
And Kenny and Heather
Shall all be riding
Near St. George
On Gooseberry Mesa
Which I should note
Is known to be the best trail
In the whole world.
There is more!
We will be camping-in-quotes
Staying in a yurt
Of Kenny’s own construction
Right on the border
Of Gooseberry Mesa.
I should say not
It is more like a nice apartment
Check it out from within.
We are bringing four bikes
And two geared hardtails
All four are Stumpjumpers
All four are carbon
All four are 29ers.
Has made quiche
We will bring it with us
One is vegetarian
(It is for Heather)
The other one will be
My GoPro is charged
And I have figured out
How the iPhone app
Works with it.
I shall bring back video.
I shall bring back stories.
I shall bring back
More than likely
A scab or two.
Above all else
I shall bring back a tale
Of how you
Can spend a weekend
Riding incredible trails
And staying at
An incredible place.
As the winner
Of a contest.
I have been reading your latest autobiography, At Speed: My Life in the Fast Lane. What a fantastic book! With every word I read, I cannot help but think to myself, “How is it possible that this 28-year-old has only written two autobiographical volumes? And how is it possible he let a full 2.5 years elapse between books? Mark Cavendish is so interesting that I want a book from him each and every year!
“No, that is too long!” I then exclaim to myself. “I demand a Mark Cavendish autobiographical book-of-the-month club!”
Heck (I’d say “Hell,” but I know you’re offended by coarse language), I feel like I’m not getting enough Mark Cavendish if I don’t get a new book about your latest reimagining of what would be perceived as childish, bad behavior in most adults every single day.
With that in mind, it is no surprise to me your latest book is currently #52 in the “Cycling” book category on Amazon.com, and #14 (!!!) in the “Bike Repair” category.
(I am totally stoked, by the way, to get to the part in the book where you tell me how to repair my bicycle.)
And that’s where we get to the problem, Mark: what is the world to do while we wait for your next book? I’m sure it’ll be coming out sometime within the next few months, but your fans can’t wait that long! We need something to tide us over. Something that captures the passion, joy, intensity, and insightfulness of your writing.
What we need is At Speed: The Musical.
I’ll pause for a moment while you let that soak in.
OK, let’s continue.
I believe that only in this format can the pathos, excitement, and lyrical quality of your most recent book be truly captured and shared with your fans.
I am pleased to present a sample script for your perusal, based on the opening scene in Chapter Two (“Five Stages”) of At Speed, because that’s as far as I’ve managed to get in the book so far.
Scene 1: Trauma and Treachery On a Bus
The stage — the interior of a bus — is empty and dark, except a single CHAIR, a spotlight tightly focused on it. Mark appears onstage, pensively holding a HELMET. The spotlights converge as MARK sits on the CHAIR, staring down at his helmet.
MARK looks into the audience, who can now see there are TEARS running down his face.
A lone piano accompanies MARK as he sings:
I have lost
I have lost a sprint to Alessandro Petacchi
How could I calculate the cost?
I had dreams
I had dreams of winning another stage
Now all I want to do is scream
MARK stands up and places his HELMET on the CHAIR, then throws his head back and screams.
The HELMET falls off the chair and skitters across stage, a spotlight following it. As the HELMET exits the stage, the spotlight reveals the PRESS CHORUS, which sings to a cacophonous string arrangement:
His helmet bounces everywhere
We’re not the only ones who thunk
This madman, this madman
Who’s raging like a drunk
We must eviscerate and castigate
Cavendish, obnoxious skunk!
The echoes of the shrill chorus fade into silence, then MARK sings.
I am lost
The emptiness and silence
On this bus tear me apart
The tumult in my mind
Is echoing my heart
BOB STAPLETON enters stage left, wearing a TOP HAT, a black cape, a sinister MUSTACHE, and a sneer.
MARK: Oh no, not Bob Stapleton.
BOB STAPLETON circles MARK, leering, snapping his fingers, always facing MARK.
I don’t know what
You’re freaking me out
I can’t think of what you could say
That would help
Not just anything
So many things you could say
That would hurt
Don’t say something
Don’t say anything
I don’t like that look in your eyes!
MARK runs off stage, while BOB STAPLETON twirls his mustache and laughs.
BOB STAPLETON sings.
What you don’t know
Can hurt you
What I do know
Will hurt you
And if you don’t know
What I do know
I’ve got a plan
Oh it will hurt you
Yeah, this will hurt you
Rogers of course!
I’ll leave you twisting in the wind
And you…you’ll never feel safe again!
Muaaaah ha ha ha ha!
BOB STAPLETON flourishes his cape and runs offstage.
I’m confident, Mark, that this play will be a huge hit. I look forward to collaborating with you further on this project.
The Fat Cyclist
PS: Pages 47-48 of At Speed, from which I have adapted this scene, are shown below for your reference.
“Your elevated PSA levels would indicate that the prostate cancer has come back and this time it will be terminal.”
A few days later the bone scan confirms that the cancer has metastasized to the bones. The radiologist explains, “its everywhere.”
This is the news that my dad and our family was faced with this last week.
As I reflect on the past few months, the signs were there: weight loss, along with increasing discomfort in his back and legs. Signs that you want to ignore and explain away as stress, or growing old.
I keep telling myself that we are lucky. Receiving a terminal diagnosis of cancer at age 82 is better that receiving one at 40, right? Everyone has to die sometime.
Then why do I feel so sad?
Maybe its because he’s my dad, and dads are always supposed to be there.
I remember how I challenged his patience when he taught me algebra, or when he taught me how to drive a stick shift. I remember how he challenged me on our summer vacations that always included hiking some mountain or canyon.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was passing on his love of hiking and of the great outdoors to me. That explains why he and I have ascended the 3000ft climb to the top of Y mountain every month for the past 12 1/2 years. A lot of advice, laughs and tears have been shared while climbing that trail with my faithful hiking buddy.
He may not be a man of many words, but he always lends a listening ear.
Now that I know that my time with dad will be cut short, I will cherish the memories and make new ones. The questions that need to be asked will be asked. My gratitude and love will be expressed more freely.
I will make the time count.
So as the ominous black cancer strikes again, we are reminded that life is short. We all eventually pass from this life. Let the ones that are important to you know how you feel.
Don’t hold grudges and bitter feelings. Say you’re sorry.
Say those “three little words” that can be difficult for some to say.
Thanks for letting me unload.
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