3 Things Fatty Loves

04.16.2015 | 11:46 am

A lot of stuff comes to me in the mail. I’m not complaining; I’m happy to try things out. But as I’ve mentioned before (and mention anytime someone emails me, asking if they can send me product to review), I don’t wind up writing about a majority of the things that come my way. I write only about things I love and think are really worth sharing (or, much more occasionally, things I hate so badly that I feel like I need to warn the world about them).

Today, there are three things different companies have sent me, all three of which I’ve been using, all three of which I love, and all three of which I think the world needs to hear more about.

Bike of the Moment

Before I talk about these cool products, though, I’d like to introduce you to a little feature I’m going to be including from time to time in my blog during this next couple weeks: “Bike of the Moment.”

You see, my fundraiser where you can buy FatCyclist gear or make a donation to WBR in order to win the ultimate dream bike and vacation is still going on (get details here, buy FatCyclist gear here, and make donations here). 

And it occurs to me that it might be interesting for me to propose, from time to time, what insanely nice bike you might actually build.

I thought I’d start with the bike I intended to build for myself, before I had an attack of conscience and decided I’d make it a fundraising prize instead.

And that bike would be a Specialized S-Works Crux Disc. This is such an incredibly versatile, strong and light bike, you could (and should) use it both on-road and off. For racing cyclocross (or the Crusher in the Tushars) or for touring.

I would start with the amazing S-Works Crux Disc Frameset (valued at $3500):

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And then I would add the incredibly light and strong ENVE SES 3.4 Disc Clinchers. These wheels are aero and light enough to be road wheels, but plenty strong enough for offroad use. And these disc-specific rims are lighter than the rim brake version. 

A complete wheelset retails for $2900 – $3050, depending on your choice of hubs (I’d go with DT 240, but that’s just me).

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Between this frame and these wheels, you seriously have the foundation of a bike you could take on pavement, on dirt roads, or CX races. 

The ENVE awesomeness wouldn’t stop with wheels, though. I’d add the ENVE Compact Road Bar and Stem. And in fact, I have exactly these on my own road bike, and they are perfect.

Then I’d go on to SRAM for the drivetrain. As someone who has completely fallen in love with SRAM’s 1×11 drivetrain philosophy on mountain bikes (The Hammer and I are both riding with XX1 drivetrains), Force CX1 is the perfect choice. 

I’d love to build this bike. Have it for myself. But instead, you get a chance to win it — or any other combination of Specialized S-Works level frameset, ENVE wheels and components, and SRAM drivetrain and components.

You just need to buy gear or make a donation for a chance to win (get details herebuy FatCyclist gear here, and make donations here).

Oh, and don’t forget: besides getting this outrageous bike, you get a trip to get it fit for you and then go riding it.

Are you beginning to see the possibilities?

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Stuff Fatty Loves #1: The BackBottle

I’ve been riding (and loving) the Cannondale Scalpel this season. There’s just one (seriously, just one) problem with this bike — and a lot of other full-suspension bikes — though: 

There’s space on the frame for only one bottle.

For long races like the True Grit Epic, I’ve worn a Camelbak. But I don’t really like wearing those, especially for medium-length rides, where I need more than one bottle, but don’t want to feel like I’m going out on an expedition.

So sometimes, I’d been riding with a bottle in my jersey pocket. Which basically sucks. In the center jersey pocket, the bottle presses against your spine, bouncing around and being annoying in general. And it’s not easy to reach back and put it back in, either.

My solution to this problem has been, thus far, to whine about it from time to time.

Brian Davis, the guy who invented Fix-It-Sticks, had a different solution: the BackBottle. [Full Disclosure: he sent me one, unsolicited, at no charge.]

I was a little skeptical, but went ahead and used it on the six-hour mountain bike ride I wrote about yesterday.

And it is wonderful. Seriously, it is amazing. The flat back of the bottle, with the two ridges, sits securely in my middle jersey pocket, never banging against my spine. The arrow-like bottom of the bottle makes it incredibly easy to push the bottle back down into my jersey pocket, one-handed.

Except for when I needed it, I forgot it was even there. And that includes when I was doing standing climbing. And it includes when I was bumping along downhill. It just disappears.

Honestly, it’s a brilliant solution to an irritating problem I’ve lived with on lots of long road rides and mountain bike rides — when I’ve wanted to bring three bottles instead of two — not just when I’ve had a single-cage bike.

I have one concern with this bottle, and that is with the cap:

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The valve is of the cheap, plastic-on-plastic variety — the kind that starts dribbling after a few uses. Also, the cap is a lightweight rigid plastic, and caps like this usually start warping after being through the dishwasher a few times.

It’s also a narrower cap than others I have, meaning I can’t mix and match bottles and caps. If this cap is lost or breaks, the bottle becomes garbage.

Now, none of this has happened yet (and maybe it won’t), but I would be really surprised if this cap doesn’t prove to be the weak link with the BackBottle. So the only item I’d put on my wish list for this great bottle idea would be a premium cap. I’d gladly pay more for a bottle like this with a cap like the Specialized Hydroflo (or better yet: I’d love it if the BackBottle had a mouth size / thread match for the Hydroflo.)

Still, this isn’t going to be a bottle you use every ride; it’s going to be your special-purpose bottle, and as such you probably won’t wear it out as quickly.

And it’s only $12, so definitely worth getting, which you can do at BackBottle.com

Stuff Fatty Loves #2: Native Hardtop Glasses

For years, I’ve been riding with Oakley Jawbones for my glasses. And I like them a lot. They’re comfortable, it’s easy to swap out lenses, and they vent well.

But their lenses…well, I wonder if anyone has ever pointed out to Oakley that their (very expensive) lenses seem to get scratched simply by being in contact with air.

So when Native Eyewear asked me to try out a pair of their glasses, I said, “Sure.” When they asked me what I wanted, I said, “Surprise me.”

They sent me a pair of their Hardtop Ultras, which I’ve been wearing on both road and mountain bike rides for the past two months or so.

And they have surprised me.

For one thing, they’ve surprised me by being incredibly light and comfortable. What they call the “Flex Metal” nose piece turns out to be incredibly adjustable, making these glasses stay on better than just about any I’ve ever had. 

They’re polarized; long days in the saddle in bright sun (such as when I raced the True Grit Epic) didn’t leave my eyes aching.

Best of all, the lenses don’t scratch anywhere near as easily as my Oakleys. I’ve been riding with them for two months now and the lenses have no obvious marks on them; this has never been the case with any pair of Oakley lenses I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot).

Here’s The Hammer and me from last weekend; I’m wearing my Hardtops:

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The Native Hardtops aren’t especially flashy glasses; they don’t call attention to themselves. You can decide for yourself whether this is a plus or minus. For me, it’s a plus.

They’re light, they’re comfortable, they’re durable, they work. And the price is good at $129. 

I have a lot of sunglasses, but lately I find that I’m reaching for the Native Hardtop Ultras for every single ride.

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Stuff Fatty Loves #3: Dog Ears

I love Garmin GPSs and how easy they are to mount on your bike. But I’ve had a couple of those mounting tabs — little plastic “ears” that secure the GPS onto your mount — snap off, just from use. 

And the day after the True Grit Epic, while The Hammer and I were out riding with a group, The Swimmer crashed into The Hammer…snapping both the tabs off her Garmin 510 in the process.

Which I was very excited about, because a few weeks earlier, a little startup in Utah — called Dog Ears — had sent me a DIY repair kit for Garmin mounts. 

These aluminum mounting plates ($19.95) go over the broken mounting tabs. 

And while I’m generally a little bit nervous about fixing anything myself, I decided to give it a try. Further, I did it on camera (originally I broadcast this live on Periscope, which is why the video is in a portrait instead of landscape orientation). 

Here it is:

After the video, I put in the screws and let the thing dry overnight…and The Hammer’s GPS has been just fine ever since.

If you’ve got busted tabs on your Garmin GPS, Dog Ears is a fast, easy, cheap solution. And since the new tabs are aluminum instead of plastic, I’m hoping they’ll be a lot less likely to ever break off again.

I love that I was able to fix something, and I love that this fix was easy and did the trick. 

 

The Sound I Was Waiting For

04.15.2015 | 7:27 am

An “I Have a Lot of Notes Today” Note from Fatty: This is just a note to say that I have quite a few pre-story notes today. But I also have a story. And also, every one of my notes is worth reading. So do.

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A “Sign Up for Something You Should Sign Up For Anyway and Maybe You’ll Win a Free Bike” Note from Fatty: I’m a big fan of The Feed, a service that makes it easy to get the energy food you want for cycling at a good price, at the right frequency, with excellent guidance. And right now, they’re having a contest where if you give them your email address, they’ll enter you in a contest to win a Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD road bike. This is a serious road bike, with a value of around $7500. It takes roughly thirty seconds to enter, so you should. Click here.

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A “Hey, Read This” Note from Fatty: I believe I am Janeen McCrae’s (aka The Noodleator) biggest fan. I have in fact recently begged her to start writing for Fat Cyclist. She declined, politely. So for now we’ll all have to be happy with whenever she writes something in her own blog. Which she has. “Tour de Tree: Groundhog Day Edition” is a wonderful ride report about an incredibly bad idea for a race. Click here to read.

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A “Yes the Contest is Still Going” Note from Fatty: I’m not going to browbeat you today about the WBR Fundraiser I’ve got in progress, except to assure you that, yes, it is in progress. And also that you should enter it. And even more also that upon entering this contest, you will be doing a lot of good for people who need it. Read here for details

Honesty

Let me start this story with a rare piece of honesty: it centers around a boast I will make.

More honesty: I shouldn’t care about the event around which this boast is made.

Still more honesty: I do care. Deeply.

And now for the story.

Training

More often than not, The Hammer and I ride together. It’s been that way for the five-plus years we’ve been together, and I love it.

It’s rare that anyone joins us for our rides, because when The Hammer and I ride, to most people it feels like we are training. Even when we’re just — truly and honestly — just riding along, recreationally.

As it so happens, The Hammer and I like to kind of flog ourselves to within an inch of our respective lives when we ride our bikes recreationally.

So, as I said, not many people ride with us more than once.

But my niece Lindsey and her fiance, Ben, have been riding with us. Mostly, this is because The Hammer and I are wonderful people to converse, ride, and otherwise be with.

It’s also possible that Lindsey and Ben are planning to race the Leadville 100 this year, and are looking to their elders for experience and wisdom and stuff.

Though I kind of doubt it.

Regardless, out of the three most recent Saturdays, Lindsey and Ben have been riding with us twice: the first time on a long road ride, and last Saturday, on a big ol’ long tour of most the trails of Corner Canyon.

Here the four of us are, being smiley and adorable together:

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Seriously, folks, is there anyone in the whole world who takes selfies as well as I do?  

The Plan

We were there to ride together. Just ride together. To put in a bunch of miles at a good solid pace.

And that is, no kidding, what we did. Except on the downhill sections, where I needed to show that I was the boss. 

Why? For several very excellent reasons, none of which I choose to reveal at this time. But I guarantee that it was not because Ben is half my age and looks to have about twice my fitness and I thus felt like I needed to prove something to him.

No, that was not the reason at all.

Anyway. We rode up Jacob’s Ladder, down the other side. Down Ghost, across Rattler, over to the BST and blah blah blah blah blah. Seriously, I don’t know why people (by which I mean me) write detailed lists of the names of the trails they rode. It means nothing to anyone except locals. Here’s the Strava of the ride, however, which makes it plain that our main objective in this ride was to diagram a triangle wrench:

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And also, to go up and down a lot, and to carefully avoid ever going on an even reasonably flat trail: 

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These are very good objectives. Very good indeed. But as the day went on, I noticed that — more and more often — our ride broke up into two groups: The Hammer and Lindsey riding together and talking in the back group…and me riding out in front of Ben, with him scant inches behind me.

Which I interpreted in a certain way. A much different way than I interpret this same distance when on a road bike. See, when someone is right on my tail on a road bike, I interpret this as good riding technique: drafting and conserving energy, so that I can pull over sometime in the next thirty seconds and trade places.

On a mountain bike, however, when someone is right behind me, I interpret it as a challenge

“You want to come around?” I asked. The gentlest form of a call-out.

“No, this is a good pace,” Ben replied.

Which would be fine, except I was going out of my way to ensure that it was not a good pace. More to the point, I was gradually ramping up my effort, trying to crack him.

Hey, I’ve finished Leadville in 8:18 before. He’s on record as wanting to finish it this year in 10:30. I should be able to crack him easily.

Except Ben wasn’t cracking. He was staying on my wheel, our respective better halves no longer anywhere in sight (they were happily chatting about weddings, not to mention racing LoToJa together this year). I was, with Ben’s help, proving the old maxim that there is no such thing as two men riding together. You get two guys on bikes, and it’s a race.

Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to disavow the incontrovertible fact that he just lost a race.

Which brings us to my plan: to prove to Ben that I am the alpha male, once and for all, in the Maple Hollow spur: a one-mile grind of a singletrack climb.

The Sound

The four of us regrouped at the turnoff that marks the beginning of the Maple Hollow climb, where I assured the group that I was done pushing it for the day, and that we should just get to the top. 

A lie, and everyone knew it. If by no other reason, by the way I didn’t make a faux-courtesy show of asking if anyone else wanted to lead out. I led out from the sound of the gun, heard in my head…and, judging from the way he immediately grabbed my wheel, heard in Ben’s head too.

This climb, I didn’t make a show of just riding along. No. I stood up, using singlespeed climbing tactics, even though I was not riding a singlespeed. Big gear, low cadence, edge of agony. Use your whole body to power up the climb.

Ben stayed right with me, as I expected him to. 

I listened for a very particular sound. But it wasn’t there.

I went harder. 

Ben stayed with me.

I listened for that sound. Still not there.

So I went harder. Listening, listening.

And then: there it was. The sound I had been straining my ears to hear:

“Tzclnk.”

I swear, that is the correct phonetic pronunciation for the sound I was listening for: the ever-so-slight sound a brand-new Shimano XTR drivetrain makes when you shift up the cassette one single gear.

It’s not a loud sound. But it is a distinctive one. And it is incredibly significant. In English, this sound translates to, “I need to go just a little bit easier.”

It is, in short, a flinch.

It was my cue to gut myself. Which I did. I gutted myself with what I like to describe as “joyful alacrity.”

And thus did I vanquish Ben and prove…well, nothing. 

But one last piece of honesty here: I would — and probably will — do it again.

Every single time.

Which may be why it’s so rare that anyone wants to ride with me.

Pssst. Don’t Tell Anyone.

04.9.2015 | 6:22 am

Hey, Fatty here.

I’m in Austin this week, doing work things, working as workers work when they’re at work. As proof of this, I offer a photo of the colossal, inseparable wad of  keys (2), key fobs (2), key rings (3) and pieces of garbage (1) the Hertz company makes me carry around as punishment for having rented one of their cars:

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I do not show this as a sly way to ask for your pity. No, wait. Actually I do.

(Pssst. Hey you. Stick around for a minute. I’m going to try to bore the rest of the readers away to another page, so it’ll be just you and me.)

So. Anyway. With me being in Austin, and my bikes being in Utah, there’s not a lot for me to write about today. 

So maybe you should just head on over to Red Kite Prayer or Bike Snob NYC or something. I like those sites. In fact, I think I’ll go read them right now. You should too.

Kind Regards,
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OK, is everyone else gone? You’re the only one who stuck around?

Good.

I’m going to tell you something, and it’s really important you don’t tell anyone else. (But first, I’m going to quit using these “whisper italics.”)

Early this week, I launched what I consider to be the most ambitious fundraising contest I’ve ever launched. Your choice of the best version (S-Works) of any Specialized frame — arguably, in many cases, the best in their class. Your choice of the best wheels and cockpit in the world — anything from ENVE. Your choice of the incredible SRAM drivetrains and brakes.

And a fitting and vacation — Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, or Utah — to get used to this amazing bike you’ve won.

Basically, I asked myself, “What would completely make people’s heads spin around, forcing them to have no choice but to sign up for this contest? What would be so compelling they wouldn’t be able to help but buy all kinds of gear and make a contribution to WBR to boot, just so they’d have a chance at winning?” And then I asked people and companies to help me build that contest. And they did. 

And here’s the good news for you, and you alone (since you’re the only person reading this): so far, the WBR contributions and Team Fatty Gear purchase numbers have been…moderate.

I’m not saying they’ve been bad, mind you. Hey, $7K+ worth of contributions in the first 48 hours of a contest is something most fundraisers would be happy to boast about.

Of course, most fundraisers aren’t showing off a prize that would retail at $15 – $20K (depending on what bike and wheels you choose, as well as where you travel and where you’re flying from). 

But see, that’s a good thing. For you. And for you alone. Because I have this idea, which I’m going to drop into whisper italics for, just so nobody overhears:

Buy the gear you want and / or make a donation, and then don’t tell anyone about it. 

And I won’t tell anyone, either.

Because right now, considering the hugeness of the prize and the relative moderate number of purchases and contributions made, this is quite possibly the best bet you’ll ever get on winning a mindbendingly incredible prize. 

Not to mention you’ll for sure make a big difference, thanks to the work you’re helping WBR do.

Not to mention the handmade Italian cycling gear you’ll be looking (and riding) so dashing in.

You’ll be doing something good for the world, wearing a really great-looking FatCyclist.com jersey, and…just maybe…getting the most outrageously perfect-for-you bike you can literally imagine.

Just keep it to yourself, OK? We wouldn’t want to wind up having this thing go big.

Buy Gear, Make a Donation, Win the Ultimate Dream Bike and Vacation

04.7.2015 | 7:16 am

A TL;DR Note from Fatty: This is the synoptic version of today’s contest-launch post, cuz it’s a doozy. Just be aware that this is full of spoilers.

  1. The first part of the prize is the dreamiest of dream bikes: any Specialized S-Works frame, paired with any ENVE wheels and cockpit, paired with your choice of SRAM components.
  2. The second part of the prize is a trip. Either to Utah to ride the three mesas in the St. George area and stay at the Gooseberry Yurt; or to Santa Cruz, to stay on the beach and ride the road. Or to Santa Rosa and do a private version of Levi’s Granfondo.
  3. You enter by either buying Fatty gear, or by making a donation. Either way (or any combination), each dollar gets you an entry. The contest ends at the end of April and the drawing happens soon after.

Want more details? Read the post I just spent four hours writing, smart guy.

Buy Gear, Make a Donation, Win the Ultimate Dream Bike and Vacation 

I have put together a huge prize to help raise money for World Bicycle Relief. 

Huge.

But more importantly — oh so much more importantly — than the fact that it’s a big prize is the fact that it’s a big prize that is going to be really truly customized to the winner.

So what the big prize will be depends on what kind of riding you like, and how you’d want your dream bike customized, and where you would want to ride it once you got it.

And of course, along the way we’re going to raise a fantastic amount of money for World Bicycle Relief. I’m going to talk more about the cause and how the contest works in a minute.

But first, let’s talk about the prize. Because I am so excited about it — both for what the ride is, and how it came together.

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The Frame

The first question the winner of this contest is going to need to ask is, “Which of all the absolutely top-end bikes Specialized makes do I want?

That, however, may be too narrow of a question to start out with. You may want to broaden it to, “Do I want a mountain bike, or a road bike?”

If you want a road (or Tri bike), your answer might be the S-Works version of several amazing frames: The Tarmac (my choice), the Roubaix (The Hammer’s choice), or even the Shiv (both The Hammer’s and my choice).

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Or maybe your answer is “mountain bike.” In which case maybe you should get  the S-Works version of the Epic. Or the Stumpjumper (on which both The Hammer and I have had our respective fastest Leadville times). Or the Enduro.

Really, you couldn’t go wrong with any of these; the “S-Works” version of their frames means it’s the lightest, strongest, best version of that bike that exists. (And also, these are just examples; maybe you want a Crux or an Amira or something else…and that’s just fine.) 

And now, for just a second, I’m going to ask you to join me in patting my own back. Because the Specialized frame you’ll be getting…well, I’m giving that to you, in a way.

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How? Well, one of the really amazing perks WBR Ambassadors get is a bike from Specialized. But, between the two of us, The Hammer and I already have eight Specialized bikes. (And we love each of them. A lot.)

So I checked with WBR and asked if they’d check with Specialized and see if we could convert the bike I’d be given into an awesome prize for someone reading the contest. 

And Specialized, being an incredible WBR supporter, not only said “yes,” but  upgraded the bike donation beyond what I would have been given to the top-end S-Works version.

Nice.

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The Wheels and Cockpit

In my most recent post, I talked about how much I love ENVE wheels and components. This is not even remotely hyperbole. My Tarmac SL4 has ENVE wheels, bar, and stem. And it is — and has been — the most perfect bike I have ever owned (the wheels have not needed to be trued even once in the two-plus years I’ve ridden them). It’s simply my own true dream bike. 

The same goes for my Specialized Stumpjumper singlespeed, with ENVE XC wheels, stem and bar: it’s just a perfect bike. Beautiful, light, and incredibly strong wheels. 

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Seriously, I don’t believe there are better bike wheels made anywhere in the world.

You are going to love them as much as I do, whether you get super aero road wheels (like the SES 6.7s) or all-purpose racing mountain bike wheels like the M50 Fifty. Or something else.

ENVE has you covered.

And if you need a little help and conversation picking out wheels, I will be happy to spend countless hours on the ENVE website, obsessing over matching your bike to the perfect wheels for you. 

And I bet we can get Jake at ENVE to weigh in with an opinion, too.

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The Components

I don’t even know where to start with SRAM. For one thing, they are outrageously generous with their support of World Bicycle Relief, and that wins them quite a few brownie points. 

But more importantly, have you seen how freaking amazing the XX1 drivetrain is? It’s changed everything about how I think about shifting gears on mountain bikes. Specifically, I no longer think of it as a dark art that sometimes works, but only if I’ve been a really good little boy. 

Here’s my point. SRAM is going to hook you up with a world-class, top-of-the-line drivetrain, and brakes, and everything else you need to go with your incredible road or MTB machine. 

You are going to be in bike heaven.

But we aren’t done yet.

 

Where Do You Want to Go?

What’s the point of having an amazing new bike if you don’t have an amazing new place to take it out for your first ride?

Oh, I think we can help you there. And — like with the rest of this contest — what you like is going to factor into what the prize is.

Suppose you choose a mountain bike, and you’d like to ride some of the most amazing trails you could ever imagine, against a beautiful desert backdrop.

In that case,  we are going to fly you to Salt Lake City, where your built-up bike will be waiting for you at Bountiful Bikes.

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There, Taylor Felt is going to spend a couple hours with you fine tuning the fit of your new bike to you, using Specialized’s Body Geometry Fit System. And as someone who has had a bike fit using this system (as has The Hammer), I assure you: your bike will fit perfectly after Taylor is done.

Then we’ll swing by ENVE HQ, to show off your bike and get a tour of the place.

After that, we’re off to Hurricane, UT for a weekend at the famous Gooseberry Yurt, where my friend Kenny will act as your guide, mountain biking the three most amazing mesas you can imagine.

NewImageAnd you’ll have company: me (of course), and Dave Thompson, a Best Friend of Fatty, grillmaster extraordinaire, and fellow 2015 WBR Ambassador. 

And that’s not all Dave is contributing to this fundraiser. He’s the one who’s buying your plane ticket. 

Yup, we’re teaming up for this contest. We’re each giving up a little something to make this the most amazing contest we can.

And we are not done yet.

Because we understand that maybe you will want a road bike. And while you’re still welcome to come to Utah to pick it up and ride (in which case I will be happy to show you some of the best of what the Tour of Utah covers), maybe you might like to spend your first few rides on something a little more…coastal.

Like Santa Cruz. Or Santa Rosa.

Yes, if your preference is to get a road bike (or if you’d rather MTB in CA than in Utah), we will have your bike built close to one of these cycling meccas, get you fit there (in Santa Rosa, the top-notch NorCal sport will build your bike and fit you for it), and meet you there for a couple days of riding.

Here’s Dave, taking in the amazing scenery midride in Santa Cruz:

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Oh, and here’s the view from the spot Dave’s got picked out to stay, should we go riding in Santa Cruz:

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I have to say, he makes a pretty good case for that place.

Here’s the bottom line: I am going to work with Specialized, ENVE, and SRAM to get you the bike of your dreams. Then Dave and I are going to make sure you get it built and fit, and then take you on some incredible rides — whatever kind of riding you like. Mellow, fast, technical, relaxed, whatever sounds awesome to you.

Basically, we are going to set you up with the most amazing bike plus vacation we can, using all the resources we have.

So. To me it looks like the total prize value for this trip is around $15,000-$20,000, between the bike, the trip, the fit, the place to stay, and incidentals.

Have we got your interest?

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Why This Matters

Here’s a set of questions worth asking: 

  • Why am I willing to give up a bike? (Trust me, I’ve been dreaming of a Specialized Crux for a looooong time)
  • Why is Dave willing to buy plane tickets or rent a cottage on the beach?
  • Why is Specialized willing to give me one of their top-end frames, at a value between $3500 and $6000?
  • Why is ENVE willing to give me around $7,000-worth of wheels and components?
  • Why is SRAM willing to open the doors to their candy shop, setting you up with around $2000-$4000-worth of parts and components?

The “why” is pretty simple. We’re cyclists and bike companies; we love bikes and what they can do for anyone. Every single one of us is a believer in what World Bicycle Relief does and how they work.

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I’ve been to Zambia and seen how a bike, given to a schoolchild, makes it possible for that child to stay in school. To get water for the family. To get a better job. To have a better life.

A Buffalo Bike in the hands of a healthcare volunteer means the ability to see more patients, to get them the attention and meds they need. To literally save lives.

These bikes — these tough, black, strong, beautiful, heavy, black bikes — improve people’s lives instantly. These bikes change the trajectory of their lives permanently.

If you’re looking for a charity that uses what you love to make a real difference in the world…well, here it is.

How The Contest Works

In keeping with the theme of choice in the rewards contest, how you enter is up to you. 

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The first way is by buying any FatCyclist.com gear from my catalog site. You can buy a jersey, shorts, a vest, arm warmers, socks, a hoodie…anything and everything.

Each dollar of your purchase automatically gets you an entry into the contest.

So yes: If you buy a Race Fit Short Sleeve Jersey, Race Bib Shorts, and a pair of socks, you not only get an amazing kit that shows your support of Team Fatty and WBR, you also get 238 entries in the contest (237.85 actually, but I round up). 

So, if you’ve been kinda on the fence about pre-ordering Fat Cyclist gear this year…well, this might help nudge you in the right direction.

The second way is to simply donate at my Donation page. There, you can donate in the following increments:

  • $10 Donation
  • $25 – 1 Wheelset
  • $50 – 1 Mechanics Toolkit
  • $147 – 1 Bike
  • $735 – 5 Bikes
  • $1,470 – 10 Bikes

Of course, you can buy multiples of each or any of these options…so if you wanted to donate $100 (and get 100 entries in the contest), just get two of the $50 option. Easy!

And yes, you can mix and match: If you buy a t-shirt ($19.95) and donate $25 (enough to buy a wheelset), you get a total of 45 entries in the contest.

The third way is free. You can have an entry into this contest by sending me (email fatty@fatcyclist.com, subject line: Ultimate Dream Bike Essay) a 200-word essay on your favorite three things about me. You may enter as often as you like, because I love hearing people’s favorite things about me.  However, each essay must be unique, topical, and in reasonably-formed English. In other words, no auto-generated text. And don’t think I can’t tell. 

And be sure you get the subject line exactly right, or the email rule I have to gather these entries won’t work on your entry. And that would be sad.

Questions You Might Have

I don’t know for sure whether you might actually have these questions, but it seems possible, because I had these questions, and figure you are exactly the same as me. 

Q. When does this contest end?
A. It ends the last day of April, at the end of the day. I’ll do the drawing in the first week of May.

Q. I purchased Fat Cyclist Gear before this contest started. What happens to me?
A. Your purchase is automatically retrofitted into this contest. Congratulations, you may have won and you didn’t even know you were playing!

Q. I purchased Fat Cyclist Gear before this contest started…and now it looks like you’re extending the pre-order. Am I going to have to wait longer to get the stuff I ordered?
No, you won’t. We’ve ordered everything from the pre-order, and just did a bunch of multiplication-style math, adding on additional stuff in the proportions we think are smart.

This means that your pre-order stuff will still get here in late May as originally promised. And since we added stuff on speculatively, there’s a very good chance that if you order during this contest you’ll still get your stuff in late May (but it may be later if we have to extend the order again). 

Q. What if I win, but I am more of a casual cyclist and don’t want / need a super-nice high-end bike.
When we did a contest similar to this last year, it turns out that the winner, Heidi, liked hiking more than biking. And so we turned the prize into a weekend of hiking in Zions National Park.

If you don’t want the bike, I’ll bet you know someone who does. Or if you don’t, Dave and I will give NICA a call and we know for sure there will be someone there who can put it to good use. Either way, you’ve still got a great trip to a beautiful spot. Our objective is not to impress you with our riding skill and tear your legs off (unless that’s what you want).

And if you’re a woman and don’t really want to spend a weekend with a couple of smelly men, we can arrange to have you ride with The Hammer and / or Amy (Dave’s wife) instead. 

Our objective is to give you the bike / vacation combo that is what you want. And we’ll tweak and twist what the prize is ’til it’s perfect for you.

Q. You and Dave are working on this fundraiser together, but you each have separate fundraising pages for WBR. Where is the money earned by this fundraiser going — to Fatty’s page, or to Dave’s page?
To Dave’s page. I expect to do the fundraising for my page in July, when I kick off the Grand Slam for Zambia. 

If you have any additional questions, post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to get to them, either right in the comments or by amending this post.

Thanks very much for your help. I know that Dave, Specialized, WBR, SRAM, ENVE, and I are all very excited about this contest. It was an exciting project to have so many companies and people come together and give something toward something we all truly believe in.

Click here for Team Fatty gear, or click here for the donation page.

Stuff Fatty Loves: ENVE

04.3.2015 | 1:05 pm

A Note from Fatty: Be sure you stick around for the end of today’s post; I’m dropping some serious hintage about the contest that launches tomorrow.

A Full Disclosure Note from Fatty: ENVE has provided me with some product at no cost, and some product at a discount.

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Jake was not there. 

I had driven for nearly forty minutes to the beautiful ENVE World Headquarters in Ogden, Utah to meet with Jake — the marketing guy at ENVE Components — and Jake had gone on a ride instead.

Imagine: going on a ride, instead of hanging around the building, waiting for me to show up.

The nerve.

And yet, I maintained my composure, thanks to three things:

  1. If given the choice to show me around my workplace or go on a ride, I would choose “go on a ride” every single time. How could I begrudge another person that exact same choice?
  2. Jake was doing important R&D stuff. Jake’s job at ENVE is technically to market stuff, but he’s also a huge part of product development. See, Jake is a serious rider with the outrageously fine-tuned cycling sensibility that comes from having ridden all the best gear, pretty much all the time. And in short, Jake has a dream life.
  3. As I stood in the lobby, my friend of 20ish years, Ryan, came out to see me and take on impromptu tour guide duty:

     IMG 1349

See, I met Ryan long ago, when I was just beginning to get bitten by the cycling bug. Ryan, meanwhile, was the genius mechanic at the bike shop I went to, as well as an incredibly gifted cyclist.

Nowadays, Ryan is a QA Engineer at ENVE, having recently left his former job doing the same thing at an aerospace firm. His job: try to break stuff,  understand how and why it breaks, then figure out how to make it harder to break in the future.

You can kind of see from the mad gleam in his eye that Ryan likes his job. (Maybe too much.) Which is peculiar, because the better he does that job, the harder it’s gonna get to do it.

But enough about Ryan (for now). Let’s talk about me and my visit to ENVE. 

And also, let’s talk about something mind-bendingly awesome I’m going to be doing with ENVE. 

Dream Warehouse

Alison and Ryan took me around the ENVE offices, where employee bikes line the halls:

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They also walked me through the manufacturing area, letting me take pictures in a few places, like where workers were cutting long sheets of carbon fiber before magically transforming them into wheels:

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You know what looks really cool that I had never seen before? a sheet of carbon fiber:

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And then, on to the wheel-building machine, which I was not allowed to photograph, but which quickly does the preliminary work of turning spokes, a hub, and a rim…into a wheel:

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With the preliminary building done, each wheel gets personal old-skool TLC from human wheel builders:

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The truth is, though, ENVE walked me past more of their facility than they walked me through, saying, “Sorry, we can’t let you see that.”

Which is pretty unfortunate, because I’m exactly the kind of guy who would be able to recognize manufacturing secrets when I see them.

Still, I did get to see the Warehouse of Ten Thousand Dreams:

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And the company president — Sarah — joined me, Ryan, and Alison for a post-tour selfie:

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And then she stuck around and talked with me (by then, Jake was back, though I punished him by not letting him join in for the selfie) about ENVE for about an hour.

Stuff Fatty Loves

One of the really nice things about being a fake journalist is that when I really really really love something, I don’t have to pretend to be objective. I can just say, flat out, that I love it. 

Not that I need to say anything, really. All you need to know about what I think of ENVE can be gathered by checking out a photo of the four bikes I am riding most often this year.

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From left to right, in that photo you see:

As you can see, if there’s such a thing as ENVE Kool-Aid, I’ve had a man-sized drink of it. And here’s my verdict: that ENVE-flavored Kool-Aid is delicious. 

Here’s the thing: one of the nice things about being a beloved, award-winning cycling blogger for tennish years is that while you don’t make any actual money by writing, you do get bikes and parts at a pretty good price most of the time. Which is to say, I can ride whatever frame I want, with whatever parts I want.

So what am I picking when I get to pick what I want? Take a look at that photo up there. There is something special about the way ENVE wheels ride. If I were James Huang or Lennard Zinn or something, I’d probably be able to fool you into thinking I understand why ENVE has an incredible ride to it. But I’m not, so I’ll have to go with, “ENVE wheels feel fast and light and strong and surefooted, to an unmatched degree.” 

They’re just crazy-good.

Where does that crazy-goodness come from? It comes from people who know bikes and love what they do to an almost unhealthy degree. Let me tell you a couple short little stories about some of the people there, to show you what I mean. 

Jake

A couple years ago, I was trying to decide what wheels I should get for the Tarmac I was going to be building up. I had looked long and hard at the ENVE site, and had settled on the SES 3.4 Clinchers. I called Jake and told him what I wanted to get. 

He listened, then asked me a few questions about how I’d be using the bike and how I ride. 

“I’m not going to send you the 3.4s,” Jake said. “You should be riding with the 6.7s.” 

Then he told me why they were the best wheel for me.

And he was right. These have been the most amazing road wheels I have ever ridden.

This year, as I was getting ready to build up my cross-country superweapon — my Felt Nine FRD — I told Jake I wanted to put ENVE XC wheels on it. 

“No,” he said. “You don’t put XC wheels on that bike. I’m sending you the M50 Fifties.” 

And, once again, he was right.

This is what happens when your “marketing guy” is, in fact, a hardcore racer. A guy who actively contributes to the company R&D because he can sense tiny little differences in how a wheel is built. A guy who started at ENVE, in fact, as a wheel builder (and later admitted that, yes, he also has a marketing degree). 

Not a marketing guy who happens to currently be marketing wheels. A bike guy — a wheel guy, a racing guy — who is in charge of marketing. 

The distinction shows through.

Ryan

Ryan knows bikes. A lot about bikes. When I bought my first real mountain bike about twenty years ago, Ryan was the guy who built it up. He’s also absurdly technically accomplished. And he’s smart.

And when I saw him at ENVE, it was obvious that he’s also incredibly happy. He’s good at what he’s doing, for one thing, but as we sat and talked about how he tests ENVE wheels and competitors’ wheels and how he’s always working toward making these wheels better and better…well, it kinda sounds like he has religion.

You hear companies talk about being “passionate” about whatever they’re selling. It’s annoying, really. But Ryan is the real deal. And I saw that a lot at ENVE. 

A Triangle of Awesome

When Jake, Sarah, Ryan and I were all chatting in the ENVE conference room, Jake mentioned that he had just gotten back from a training camp with the pro cycling team, Team MTN-Qhubeka. Why? Because ENVE is sponsoring Team MTN-Qhubeka this year.

Which is going to make for some pretty nice rides for this team:

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This is awesome for a slew of reasons, some of which may not be immediately obvious upfront. 

Screenshot 2015 04 06 06 42 49

So. Allow me to enlighten you.

  1. Team MTN-Qhubeka will be racing in this year’s Tour de France
  2. Qhubeka” is actually part of World Bicycle Relief. Yep, same people, same mission, just a different name in South Africa.
  3. As it turns out, as an athlete ambassador, I am fundraising for World Bicycle Relief

So, as a sponsor of MTN-Qhubeka, ENVE is excited to help with World Bicycle Relief’s mission. 

And I…well, I have some experience with that. 

Hmmmm.

It seems like there might be something here worth exploring between ENVE, World Bicycle Relief, and Team Fatty.

And here’s the part I’ve been leading up to: ENVE is going to partner up with me this year as I fundraise for World Bicycle Relief

What does this mean? It means that when I do my Grand Slam this July — not coincidentally, overlapping with the Tour — you can expect to see some magnificent wheels and components on some of the bikes. 

It also means that you might see a really cool Team MTN-Qhubeka replica bike as one of the prizes.

And it means that you ought to check back tomorrow, because ENVE and I (and some other very good Friends of Fatty) are going to be kicking off a season-opener contest you simply will not want to miss. Without giving away too much, let me just say that it involves a dream frame, dream components, dream wheels and cockpit from ENVE…and more. 

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