We were sitting at the beautiful Riviera Ristorante: Greg, Jeff, Levi, me. Each of us had ordered something from the specials the waiter had mentioned; they sounded that good.
Now we waited.
Now we strategized.
“What order should we ride in?” I asked. Then, partially answering my own question, I said, “Levi should obviously go first.”
“Then you,” said Jeff. “I go third.”
“That sounds good,” said Levi.
“OK, what next?” I asked. “What’s our next tactic in our team strategy?”
“Uh, go really fast?” Levi offered.
“And don’t fall down or get lost?” Jeff added.
“Is that all we’ve got?” I asked. “That’s the entirety of our strategy?”
“Hey, is that the new Apple Watch you’re wearing” Levi replied. OK, so it wasn’t really a reply. It was more just the next thing he said.
“Yes it is,” I said. “Here, try it on and let’s get your heart rate.”
So here, for the record, is Levi’s heart rate while waiting for dinner, immediately after an intense race strategy planning session:
“My resting heart rate has never been very low,” explained Levi.
For comparison, here’s Greg’s heart rate, taken six minutes later:
Oh, and because I know you’re curious, here’s mine, right now:
Evidently, I’m feeling pretty mellow as I type this (even mellower than I was feeling nine minutes ago, apparently).
Also, because I know you’re interested in every little detail in my life, I had the ravioli.
All that was really left to do before heading off toward Boggs (I don’t know why this forest is called “Boggs,” but it really is; it’s not just a silly nickname because of someone hilariously misspelled a forest that happened to contain a number of bogs) the next day was to go grocery shopping.
We just needed to decide whether to do that shopping the following morning, or take care of it that evening, after dinner.
For reasons that I shall never even attempt to understand, this was the most hotly-debated topic of the evening. Here, allow me to show you, via a pie chart:
After considerable and intense discussion (which I stopped following after the first couple minutes, due to being happy to do whatever, whenever), we agreed that we would get together the following morning to do the grocery shopping.
At which point we parted ways, Greg giving Jeff and me a ride back to our hotel, Levi headed elsewhere.
Two minutes after we began driving, Levi had caught us at a red light. “Let’s do the shopping tonight,” he shouted.
So we headed to a grocery store. One of those grocery stores that specializes in products that are similar to products you might find at a regular grocery store, except they’re marginally better for you and three times more expensive.
Guys Should Not Shop
The three of us (Greg, sensibly, wanted no part of this) got a grocery cart. We began walking up and down aisles, everyone too polite to actually put something in the cart, for fear it would meet the others’ disapproval.
Ten minutes in, we had put in bananas. And nothing else.
It began to look like this could take a while.
Finally, I said it. “I’m afraid to shop with you, Levi. I’m afraid that the overlap between what I consider food and what you consider food is an empty set.”
(No, I didn’t actually use those words. Figuring out how to phrase it this way took me twenty minutes.)
“Get whatever you want. I’m going to get whatever I want,” Levi replied. “One of the reasons I still ride every day is so I can eat how I like.”
Relieved, I grabbed a jar of Creamy Jif peanut butter.
Levi recoiled. “You’re not seriously going to get that, are you?”
I allowed that until now, I had in fact intended to get it.
Levi warily regards a pasta salad.
“It’s full of corn syrup!” Levi assured me, and we swapped the Jif out for a natural peanut butter, which remained unopened for the weekend.
Eventually, we bought chicken meatloaf (which was really good), enough water that we could each drink a gallon per hour for the entire eight-hour race, ten pounds of sliced turkey, five pounds of provolone, and some white bread.
I consider the white bread my greatest victory.
Oh, and I snuck in a jar of Nutella toward the end, too.
The Next Morning
“Jeff,” I said, as we ate breakfast the next morning, “Now that Dad’s not here, we need to re-grocerize.”
“Yeah,” said Jeff.
Which is how we finally came to be in possession of a large bag of chocolate chip cookies, a twelve-pack of Coke Zero, another twelve-pack of Coke, and a four-pack of Starbucks Doubleshots.
Now we were ready to make the trek to Boggs.
Except I was far from ready. So far. So very very far.
And in the next installment of this story, I’ll explain why.
Every once in a while, I take a few minutes to reflect on how incredibly good I am at certain things. For example, I am good at napping. I am excellent at listening to the radio. I am practically phenomenal at making eye contact and apparently paying attention while actually not paying any attention whatsoever.
Above all, however, I am good at choosing winners at random. Crazily good at it. Honestly, I’d say I’m one of the top ten random winner choosers in the world. I’m like the Martin Riggs of random drawings.
Last weekend’s trip to Northern California proved this, in an enormous way. Specifically, I showed astonishing brilliance in managing to randomly choose Jeff D as the winner in last September’s fundraising contest to benefit Forget-Me-Not Farm.
Jeff, as it turns out, is within a year of my age. He’s a strong cyclist, with no ego about it whatsoever. He’s incredibly smart, thoughtful, and interesting…again with no ego about it. He’s a great conversationalist, but doesn’t feel the need to fill every single moment with chatter. And he’s a great photographer.
All of these things would matter a lot to me personally, since Jeff and I would be together, more or less nonstop, for the next 72 hours or so.
During which time, we would do all of the following, all together:
- Text each other, from three feet away, about the creepy bus driver
- Pick up an RV and then live through the terror of me driving any largeish vehicle, ever, for the first time in my life. And then take it up and over three large mountain passes (and then back over those same passes two days later)
- Eat at an 80’s-themed British pub
- Hang out with llamas and goats
- Plan race strategy with Levi Leipheimer
- Go grocery shopping with Levi Leipheimer
- Go grocery shopping again, but without Levi Leipheimer
- Race our brains out
- Clean my wounds
- Hang out with numerous Friends of Fatty
- Race our brains out some more
- Agree that we would not use the bathroom in our RV for pooping unless absolutely necessary
- Race our brains out a third time
- Eat scrambled eggs and avocados
- Discover a fatal flaw in our plan to return our RV
And, due to the fact that he is — as I’ve mentioned — a great photographer, the telling of all these parts of this race writeup will be well-pictured.
At some point during the weekend, I confessed to Jeff: “You have no idea how relieved I am that you won this contest. What if it had been a woman? Or someone who couldn’t go with the flow? Or someone half my age?”
My point was, out of the universe of potential contest winners, Jeff was pretty much the ideal person to win this one.
As one of the best winner selectors in the world, I take full credit for all of this.
Now, let’s begin the story.
Thursday: The Day Before The Race
Jeff and I meet at SFO, arranging the where as soon as he lands. We hop aboard a shuttle to Santa Rosa, where we’ll be meeting our driver and chaperone for the day, Greg Fisher.
“Have you met Greg?” I ask Jeff.
“Just in email and on the phone,” Jeff replies.
“Then you’d better watch him in Mementum,” I said. And Jeff did. Which probably, now that I think about it, prepared Jeff for Greg to be something completely different than what Greg actually is. (What Greg actually is: smart, hilarious, well-organized co-honcho of BikeMonkey)
Meanwhile, the bus driver enchanted all of us passengers with his Krusty the Klown impersonation, which is why I drove a knitting needle through both my eardrums.
Greg picked us up in a friend’s jeep, explaining that his Subaru was broken. I asked Greg if, like me, he found it impossible to hear the word ‘Subaru’ without getting the lyrics to Blondie’s “Rapture” stuck in his head.
Greg avowed that he did not have that problem, and so I helped him out by reciting the relevant portion of the song, and then — because I have two terabytes of eighties music stuck in my head — kept going.
I’m very fun to be with.
Oh Look, They Have Themselves an RV
After a quick stop by the hotel, we headed over to the RV rental place, where Jeff and I posed by the RV we’d be calling home for the next couple days:
Greg and Jeff inspected the interior:
Everything looked good. There was, in fact, just one tiny problem. Someone was going to have to drive this thing. And — for a reason I to this day cannot grasp nor fathom — I was that person.
Now, I realize that for many of you, this would not be a big deal. This RV was not the longest vehicle in the world. Not even close. And it was set up to be driven just like a regular (albeit very long and wide) car.
And yet, truly, I have never been so petrified. Just look at my face in that photo. It’s like I’ve aged twenty years in five minutes.
But it is my name on the insurance for the RV, which BikeMonkey (wisely) bought.
Next up, we went to The Bike Peddler — sister shop to the legendary NorCal BikeSport — where Jeff and I were set up with matching Marin Rift Zones:
Full suspension, plus dropper posts. We were ready for anything.
Forget Me Not Farm
The whole reason we were here, of course, was because we had been raising money for Forget Me Not Farm. The idea of this place is beautiful: take children and animals that have been abused, and help both by putting them together.
It works. And a big reason it continues to work is because Levi’s GranFondo (and people like the Friends of Fatty) put the money together to help it keep working.
Carol, the founder of Forget Me Not Farm, took us on a tour of the place, showing us a number of the animals the kids help take care of and the crops they raise.
Jeff (right) with a llama (left)
Probably I should know what these are
We were now at dinnertime, and would be meeting Levi at Riviera Ristorante to eat and strategize. Then we’d be going grocery shopping. Which…well, it would be weird.
And those two things together…well, they probably deserve their own post.
So I think I will.
PS: Jeff is writing his own report of this weekend, and is further along than I am. Read his part 1 here, and his part 2 here.
I got back from California about one o’clock this morning; I spent last Friday – Sunday in a mountain bike racing paradise.
I do not ask for your pity, but I do ask for your understanding as today I do one very important thing, which I shall conveniently list for you:
- Introduce you to the winner of the World Bicycle Relief fundraising contest, with the Specialized S-Works bike of your choice, outfitted with ENVE components.
Now that we have a plan, let’s get started, shall we?
Meet Tim W
I got up early on Friday, excited to build the spreadsheet for the drawing. I take this job seriously…and with no small amount of pleasure. I know that a lot of you would participate in these fundraisers even if there weren’t prizes, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to give out.
Then, when I got to Boggs forest and met Dave Thompson — my co-ambassador for WBR — I had him use random.org to pick a random number based on the rows in the spreadsheet.
Here’s that moment, captured forever (courtesy of Dave H):
The number? 2940.
And that number corresponded to Tim W, who has been contributing to fundraisers I’ve been doing for years. Here he is, with his lovely wife Deedee:
I called Tim (many of the entries had corresponding phone numbers) and left a voicemail:
“Hi Tim. This is Fatty. If you like really nice bikes and vacations, you should give me a call back.”
And then I sent him an email saying essentially the same thing.
Then I went racing.
Later that evening, Tim called me. “Is this a prank? Is this real or are you punking me?” he asked.
“It’s real,” I said. “What bike are you going to pick?”
“I don’t know yet,” Tim said. “I need to do some serious thinking.”
However, since Tim does live in Northern California and loves visiting Utah (once, during a vacation they were taking to Zions National Park, Tim and Deedee came and watched The Hammer and me race a couple laps of 24 Hours of Frog Hollow), he does plan to visit Utah.
So that much is certain. One tough decision down, one extremely tough decision to go!
I asked Tim to send me an email telling me a little bit about himself:
I could not believe the message that I received Friday night. I returned what I thought was a prank call, to get Fatty on the other end. He informed me of the fantastic luck I had. I was the winner of his latest fundraiser for WBR. My name is Tim. I live in Livermore, CA. and have been following The Fat Cyclist for years as well as participating in his fundraisers, never expecting to win, just knowing they were always for a great cause.
I do not race but ride quite a bit recreationally. The bike will be way beyond my abilities, whatever I get. Now I have some decisions to make.
Thank You Fatty for the entertaining blog posts that you do, keep up the good work, as well as Thanks to WBR, Specialized, ENVE and SRAM.
I think that’s really well put.
Now, for all of you who are not Tim W, please take a moment to leave a note of congratulations to him, as well as bike / component mix you think he should get (i.e., what you would have gotten).
And don’t worry, folks. You may not have won this time, but the Grand Slam is coming. And the quantity and quality of prizes is going to be outrageous.
I don’t have a ton of time to write today; I’m headed out to race Boggs with Jeff D and Levi Leipheimer.
Believe me, there is nothing in the world that makes you quite as self-conscious as grocery shopping with Levi Leipheimer.
Anyway, the contest is over, and I’m working on the spreadsheet right now. You’ll be excited — as I am — to know that we raised $25,168 with this contest!
I’m taking care of making final adjustments to the spreadsheet, and then, as seems only proper, I’ll ask my fellow WBR Ambassador and co-owner of this contest Dave Thompson to pick a random number (using random.org) corresponding to the numbers I’ve assigned everyone in the prize spreadsheet.
And then, this evening, once the day’s racing is done, we’ll send out an email to the winner.
So, start watching your email tonight, OK?
Of course, I have no idea whether I’ll get Internet, so if you don’t hear from us, that doesn’t mean all is lost.
Let me conclude with a big giant Thank you. Your generosity in this contest will put bikes under 171 students. With an average of three people being affected by each bike, that’s 513 lives you’ve just made better. In a measurable, meaningful, practical way.
So: on behalf of the 513 people who are going to have chances they never would otherwise had, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Once again, I am pretty much overwhelmed by the fact that I have the nicest, most generous friends a person could ever ask to have.
A Note from Fatty: Today is your last day to enter the “Buy Gear, Make a Donation, Win the Ultimate Dream Bike and Vacation” contest. If you buy some Fat Cyclist gear, or make a donation to WBR, you could be the one to any Specialized S-Works bike you want, outfitted with top-of-the-line ENVE and SRAM components.
And you won’t just win a bike, either. You also will win a trip to — your choice — Utah or California, where you’ll receive your built-up bike, get custom-fitted for it, and then spend a weekend riding with my fellow WBR Ambassador Dave Thompson and me.
For this last day, I brought out the big guns. Specifically, Dave is going to describe if you choose to have your biking weekend in his neighborhood, Santa Cruz.
If You’re a Mountain Biker…
The Santa Cruz area offers a wide choice of rides, from beginner to the “sick edit” category.
On the beginner side I would recommend Wilder Ranch: it offers some very nice trails through open meadows and trees that range from easy to moderate difficulty with nice views of the Ocean as you climb from the sea up into the mountains.
Moving up the scale Demo Forest, located high up in the Santa Cruz mountains, offers moderately difficult climbs and a variety of singletrack decent options. One of the new trails, the Flow Trail, which is more than half complete, has a nice smooth descent through the redwoods with high banked turns, gentle rise and falls with no drops or big surprises.
The Braille trail has loads of steep sections complete with jumps and teeter totters. The nice thing about Demo is all the single track options start at the same place on the top and end at the same fire road on the bottom so you can easily ride back up and ride as many of them as you’d like.
The most challenging is a short drive away and one of my favorite spots, Henry Coe Park. The only problem with Coe is the climbing is a bit steep. I took Carlos there a few weeks ago and we did a 32 mile ride with a bit over 6k feet of climbing. Carlos said it was the hardest thing he has ever done. There is no real easy way to ride in Coe so I would only recommend this for the advanced rider or the young (like Carlos). Coe is 87,000 acres so rides range from a short 10 miles to as far as you want to go. A nice collection of single track descents through forests of oak and Manzanita followed by brutal fire road climbs but with nice scenic views well worth the suffering.
If You’d Rather Ride Road
In and around the Santa Cruz area there are many road rides to choose from. One of my favorite easy rides is a bike/walking trail that winds along the bluffs of Santa Cruz with spectacular views of the ocean. The trail starts in Santa Cruz, by the Boardwalk and takes you up to Wilder Ranch about a 12 mile ride round trip and almost dead flat. You are almost guaranteed to see surfers and sea lions as you pass the lighthouse.
For more difficult and longer rides all you need to do is head east up any of a number of great roads that climb up through the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz mountains.
One of my favorites is Eureka Canyon, a small less traveled road that climbs gently up through the forest to Summit Road. From there you can take the optional additional climb up to Loma Prieta avenue were you are rewarded with spectacular views of the ocean, see pic “Loma Pieta”.
From there you can head north along the top of the Santa Cruz mountain range and descend back down into Santa Cruz by a couple of options, depending on how long you want your ride to be. There are so many great roads to choice from a day in the Santa Cruz mountains can be as long and hard as you want.
Then there is also the beach. I’m sure we could get our hands on a few fat tire bikes; that would make for some fun.
Something for Everyone
As for non biking, all these areas are also great for hiking and also range in difficulty accordingly. There are also several good wineries in the area and the Monterey Bay aquarium is only a short drive away.
As for the beach house we have rented this place — The Black Pearl — for the past several years:
Who doesn’t want to stay in a place with a pirate name?
It is walking distance to the harbor, several good restaurants and the house is overlooking the ocean.
A Final Word From Fatty
No matter what bike you choose, or which components, or which place to go riding, this is a ridiculous prize, and having Dave along guarantees it’s going to be a great time. Dave — along with the whole Thompson family — is one of the nicest, best people you will ever meet.
Whoever wins this prize — which ends today — is going to be incredibly lucky.
But you can’t win if you don’t enter. And how do you enter? Well, buy some Fat Cyclist gear, or make a donation to WBR. It’s that easy. You’ll be doing some good for the most practical, effective, instantly-life-changing charity in the world. You’ll be getting the best gear I’ve ever offered (if you’re buying gear, that is).
And you just might win an incredible bike and vacation.
PS: I’m flying to San Francisco in 20 minutes, to meet up with Jeff D, who won another of my contests. I think it might be only fitting to have him do the drawing for this winner tomorrow.
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