My sister is awesome and what she does is worth supporting

10.2.2014 | 8:29 pm

Suppose there were an island in New York, just a quick ferry trip ride from the city. And suppose that island used to be a military installation, but now is abandoned.

What would you do with all the space in these now-abandoned military homes?

The possibilities are endless, no? 

The reality — because there is such a place, called Governors Island — is that these spaces are lent to 100 NYC artists: painters, photographers, sculptors, and more.


And then, during the month of September, the whole place becomes an amazing — and free to the public — art fair.

It’s a brilliant, wonderful use of the place, and it’s all run by a few volunteer/artist types. 

Like my genius artist sister, Lori Nelson

She, along with the other good folks at, are running a Kickstarter to make ends meet. They’ve hit and passed their goal of $15,000, but they could use a little more help. 

and since a lot of the incentives for helping fund the Kickstarter are artwork my genius sister created, I’m going to extra-strongly recommend you check out and fund the Kickstarter (which ends Sunday). 

For $50, you can get a fine art print of her “Stupid Hair” painting, from the Cryptotween series:


Or the one I picked: “Overbite:” 


Or you can get a t-shirt with this very weird squirrel on it:

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How odd that this very strange-looking squirrel obscured some of the text. I wonder what it says? I guess we’ll never know.

Oh, here’s my niece, modeling said t-shirt:


She probably makes it look better than you will. Don’t feel bad about that, though. 

One last time, click here to go to the Kickstarter.

And have a great weekend.


An Open Letter to Co-Workers of All Cyclists

10.1.2014 | 1:25 pm

Dear Co-Workers of Every Cyclist in the World,

On behalf of all of us — your cycling co-workers — I’d like to express our appreciation for you. You are, by and large, really good about looking the other way when we park our bikes in our cubicles, and when we bring food into meetings that looks like it’s designed to be consumed by astronauts. And you cheerfully put up with our goofy post-ride endorphin rushes.

That’s wonderful of you. It really is.

Also, I’d like to acknowledge and apologize for our weirdness and shortcomings. We know that we tend to talk about things that make no sense whatsoever to you. We know that our freshly-shaved legs creep you out. 

We know that we can be a self-righteous, indignant lot, screaming about cars and exhaust and close calls and non-existent road shoulders and bike lanes. Don’t take it personally; we’re just a little bit amped up because we just stared death in the face for a moment. We’ll be calm again as soon as our “fight or flight” reaction runs its course.

So, again, thank you.

With all that said, we have a few requests we’d like to make in how you interact with us from this point forward, in order to ensure a happy, productive work environment for all of us.

1. Do not schedule meetings just before we go on rides. If you want to get our full attention during a meeting, please do not schedule that meeting so it ends right when we have a ride scheduled to begin.

Right from the beginning of that meeting, we’ll be fretting about whether this meeting is going to end on time, and that fidgety staring at the clock will only increase as the minutes go by. 

We’ll be thinking about how we can get our gear ready as fast as possible, whether our bikes are ready to go, whether it would be considered acceptable to eat something during the meeting so we won’t be depleted at the beginning of the ride. 

We’ll be thinking about the route: either planning one out if we didn’t already have a specific ride plan, or tracing the route in our minds if we do already have a plan.

We will not be thinking about the meeting. This much I can guarantee.

As you get closer to the designated time for the meeting to end, our fidgeting and distractedness will only increase. 

If your meeting goes long, we will either claim that we have a conflicting meeting that requires us to be present (which is technically true, since we cannot be on a bike ride unless we’re actually on our bikes), or we’ll just stare daggers at you until you feel so uncomfortable that you end your meeting.

2. Do not schedule meetings just after we’ve been on rides. Look, we do our very best to have our rides end when we say they’re going to, but events beyond our control can occur. For example:

  • We might get a flat tire
  • We might get lost
  • We might decide that it’s too nice a day to come back to work just yet

Also, once we do get back from our rides, we’re going to need a little time to adjust. We’re so full of endorphins and the general sense of well-being that comes with riding that it’s not easy to drop back into the hell that is the modern conference room.

Plus, it takes a few minutes — or possibly three-quarters of an hour — for our bodies to realize that it is now time to stop sweating profusely.

It’s best for us to be alone during that time.

3. Do not schedule meetings that conflict with the best time of day for a ride. Hey, we’re happy to work as much as it takes for us to get our jobs done. Don’t go thinking that we’re slackers. But the fact is, we can work at any time during the day (or even during the night), but there are only a few hours per day that are perfect for riding. Hours when it is not too cold, nor too hot. When it’s not too dark. When (for those of us who ride on the road) there isn’t a ton of traffic.

Do not schedule meetings during those times. Those times are sacred. Those times are when we want to be on a bicycle.

Oh, and by the way, those times shift constantly as seasons progress and change, and as days become longer and shorter.

Also, some days we like riding in the cold (or hot, or rain, or snow, or dark), so what constitutes the best time of day for a ride might be a little bit difficult for you to pin down.

Just don’t schedule a meeting during that time, OK?

4. Do not schedule meetings that conflict with a window of good weather. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it snows. By and large, we — your cycling co-workers — don’t really want to ride during these times (unless we have fatbikes, or we ride CX). 

And then, sometime during the day, a window of good weather will open. Just long enough for a little ride.

Don’t go scheduling meetings during these windows. They’re precious, precious windows, and if we’re in a conference room as they open and shut, our souls will wither and die. 

Honest. They really will.

Oh, also: if you’ve scheduled a meeting before it becomes clear that your meeting time conflicts with the only good weather of the day, we’d really appreciate it if you’d reschedule the meeting. We’re not fussy about the reason. Thanks.

5. Do not schedule meetings that are just far enough apart that we could almost — but not quite — go for a ride between them. Don’t tease us with 90-minute gaps between meetings. Between the time it takes us to get ready for a ride, go on the ride, and then get back into work clothes, ninety minutes just isn’t enough.

Schedule us back-to-back, or schedule us with at least 2.5 hour gaps. 

That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

6. Do not schedule big deadlines during Spring. Or Summer. Or early autumn. It may not seem that way to the rest of you, but we cyclists are absolutely committed to our jobs. But we are also big believers in work-life balance. And we’d like you to respect that. So after a long winter, it’s important to us to get out and get some riding in; surely whatever projects you have in mind for us can wait a little bit while we get back in the saddle.

Similarly, Summer is kind of when we do the bulk of our training, not to mention when most of our big races are. So try to keep things light, job-wise, during that season if at all possible (and we all know that it is possible).

And finally, Autumn is really the best time of year for riding. We just want to get in a little more saddle time before the snow flies and the off-season begins, OK?

But we’re totally yours during the Winter. Really, we are. Unless we have CX or fatbikes, I mean.

7. Don’t expect us to come to your offsites, your after-work get-togethers, or your team-building exercises. We have other plans.

Please observe these simple, easy-to-follow rules and we’ll get along famously.

We look forward to working with you.  

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist 

An Open Letter to the Eventual Winner of the “Race on the Fatty/Levi Team” at Boggs

09.29.2014 | 9:50 am

Dear Lucky Eventual Winner,

First off, I should probably remind you: you have only a few more days to enter the contest to win a trip to Northern California. The one that is benefitting the Forget Me Not Farm. The contest ends Thursday at 11:55pm PT, October 2

But the real reason I am writing you is that I feel I owe you an apology. Not for the fact that you have just won an incredible all-expenses-paid vacation at Boggs, a suite of races — a hill climb, an eight-hour team relay, and a downhill race — in a beautiful location. A race which sells out almost as soon as it opens.

No, I am not apologizing to you for that. Why would I? 

What I am apologizing to you, Lucky Winner, is for what some people might call my excessive exuberance during this event. For my tendency to…shall we say…allow my cup of happiness to overflow. And to slop around and make a bit of a mess, to speak quite frankly.

I recognize now, from the below recent conversation which I had with Levi Leipheimer and his duly appointed legal representative Greg Fisher, that I can celebrate, from time to time, perhaps overmuch. 

Please, allow me to explain what I expect the weekend to be like.

And to ask for your understanding in advance.

Upon Your Arrival

When you arrive in either the San Francisco or the Oakland airport on Thursday, May 30, I will do my best to be waiting there for you, with my arms open wide. If I cannot be there, I will find someone who is approximately the same height and weight as me to take my place.

Whether we embrace or give each other an enthusiastic handshake is up to you. High-fives are not on the table, due difficulties I have with eye-hand coordination.

From there, we shall whisk you away to Santa Rosa, driving in a reasonably-priced automobile, which will be equipped with both air conditioning and a stereo. 

We will take the greatest care to make the automobile comfortable for you, by removing fast food wrappers before your arrival, and adjusting a combination of air conditioning dials and car windows to reach a temperature you find acceptable.

I will see to it personally that the stereo is tuned to play the radio station of your choosing.

An Evening of Luxury

Once you are in Santa Rosa, I will take you to NorCal Bikesport, where we will fit you for the bicycle you will use during this weekend. It will be the very finest in mountain bicycles, and the people at NorCal will treat you with the respect you would expect when you are my guest. 

No. With more respect than you would expect to be given a guest of mine. If that is even possible.

Then we shall pay a visit to the Forget Me Not Farm. Odessa Gunn will perhaps give us a tour. Levi Leipheimer will perhaps saddle up and ride a llama. It will be an unforgettable afternoon, which will be topped off with a dinner at the franchised restaurant of your choosing. 

If you like, you may even order a dessert.

High-Class Camping in a Recreational Vehicle

But your trip has just begun, for on the next day, after staying at a hotel — you need not worry, we will have separate rooms — we shall board a rented recreational vehicle, which has been stocked with tools, our bicycles, and BikeMonkey staff to wait upon our every need.

Also, there will be food. And pie of multitudinous variety, including but not limited to your favorite three flavors. We will feast on pie, you and I.

And I may very well grill bratwurst. Stranger things have happened.

We shall park at a primo spot, and then you, Levi, and I will walk around like we own the place. 

Don’t worry, Levi is actually quite well-behaved, once you defeat him in a contest of some sort. I recommend a staring contest or indian leg wrestling.

We shall pick out spots for sleeping in this RV. I shall let you pick first. And if Levi tries to take your spot, well, he’ll get what’s coming to him.

The Hill Climb

When you and I embark upon the hill climb race on the first day, I shall do everything I can to ensure you do well in the race. This is includes attaching one end of a strong cord to Levi’s seatpost and the other end to your handlebar.

I’m very interested in your success, Contest Winner. Very interested indeed.

After this effort concludes, we’ll dine on all-beef frankfurters (or a substitute hotdog-shaped vegetable product, if that’s your choice) and soft drinks. Also, there may be alcoholic beverages to drink, as long as you promise to drink no more than Levi’s body weight (84 pounds).

The Main Event

I will do my utmost to not snore while sleeping in our RV, eventual winner, though you must cut me some slack in this regard. Once I’m asleep, there’s really not much I can do about it. Feel free to nudge me if necessary.

In the morning, I shall scramble you some eggs, or pour milk on your breakfast cereal. I am a versatile man, and will go out of my way to ensure your happiness.

Then it will be time for us to race in the 8 Hour Relay Event. I’ll go first. Or Levi will. Or you can. It’s your call entirely, for you are the boss. Don’t let Levi intimidate you into thinking he is the boss, because he is not. 

If you want to go fast like some kind of crazy person, I am all for that, and will follow your lead, absolutely gutting myself in order to win glory for our team.

Levi has indicated he will do the same.

Likewise, however, if you prefer just to relax and rid a lap or two at an easy pace, that’s what we will do. The long and short of it is, we will figure out what would make a race fun for you, and then we will go out and have that fun.

And if I get a little bit too enthusiastic and sometimes annoy those around me due to my yipping and hopping around from foot to foot, I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I am who I am.

No matter how fast — or how relaxed — we go, however, I can guarantee you one thing: that we will win our division. The reason I can make such a guarantee is that we will have a division of our very own.

We’re going up on the podium, you and I. Yes we are.

The Super D

I understand that we have the option to race a downhill event. I intend to spectate. I know what I’m good at, after all, and what I’m not.

If you choose to race, however, I will cheer you on with all the enthusiasm you could ever hope for or want.

Or indeed, tolerate.

Our Parting

You and I will become melancholy on the trip back to the airport, knowing that our weekend is at a close. And yet we will be grateful for the moments we have shared.

There is no chance we will not embrace.

I look forward to our adventure together. As does Levi. As will you. So you’d better donate now. Before it’s too late (For example, Friday is too late).

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist 

Guest Post: Hiking with Heidi, Winner of the Gooseberry Yurt Vacation Contest

09.25.2014 | 9:00 am

Screenshot 2014 09 25 08 50 03

A Note from Fatty: A few weekends ago, The Hammer, the twins and I got to spend a couple of days hiking and camping with Heidi, the winner of the contest The Hammer ran as a fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief. 

Heidi is awesome. Also, she dyes yarn for a living. If you’ve never known that yarn can be beautiful (I didn’t, for example), you should check out Heidi’s Etsy store: Grant Creek Yarns

Heidi agreed to write up the story from the weekend, giving me a nice little day off (for about the first time ever, I have had to do exactly no editing to this guest post).

Also, Heidi’s post gives me a great chance to remind you that I’ve got a new contest going on right now — a chance to come race on a team with Levi Leipheimer and me. This contest — which benefits Forget Me Not Farm — ends a week from today, so you better go donate soon.

Heidi’s Guest Post: The Gooseberry Yurt / Hiking Zions Weekend

Hi, I’m Heidi, the lucky winner of the Gooseberry Yurt Vacation, here to report on our grand adventure.

I was absolutely delighted to win this trip, and spending a weekend hiking in Zion was right up my alley. Lisa and Elden were brave souls to open their lives up to a complete stranger from Montana. I was tickled to hear that Elden’s twins would be able to join us; the more the merrier, and it was fun to hear their take on things.

Due to the timing of my flight along with the long (beautiful!) drive, it would have been fairly late by the time we reached the yurt. Rather than unpack and set up in the dark, Lisa switched up the plans and we spent the first night at an elegant home about an hour from Zion that was made available by her friends. There I learned fascinating, possibly little-known facts about Lisa and Elden: Lisa was a contestant on The Price is Right (we watched the video!), and Elden makes a kick-ass cup of French press coffee.

We packed a lot into the weekend. I had never been to Zion, and Lisa was excited to show it off. On Saturday morning, we hiked four miles up to Observation Point, gaining 2,100 feet in elevation. The website for Zion describes it well:

“Spend a few hours trudging up a steep mountainside to one of the best viewpoints offered by the list of Zion’s classic trails. This challenging path is complete with dizzying drop offs and eye popping scenery looking down into Zion Canyon. The maintained path zigzags its way up the steep mountainside beside familiar reddish Navajo sandstone before venturing through Echo Canyon, a deep gorge filled with water gnawed sandstone pockets. Near the top of the trek you will see white rock; this layer is known as the Temple Cap formation. Beyond Echo Canyon walls drop sharply, giving way to spectacular views. At the trails end, looking down into the canyon is a spectacular display of stone sculptures contrasted by the bluest of skies – thanks to the clean air of southern Utah.”

There was so much to see, and the views kept changing along the way.

IMG 9721

Lisa pointed out that the four one-mile sections up alternated between comfortable and steeper/more challenging. It reached 93 degrees in the park that day, and I had to call breaks to catch my breath on the final mile (but I think the twins secretly cheered when I did). Lisa, of course, looked fresh as a daisy.

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Here is the stunning view that awaited us at the top:

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After lunch, we were ready to walk up the Narrows River. It was fun to watch so many people of different ages, shapes, sizes, and nationalities bobbing and laughing in the river. I was glad I took Lisa’s suggestion and used one of the walking sticks left by earlier waders, otherwise I might have ended up in the drink.

IMG 9832

After picking up some fantastic brick oven pizza from the Pizza Wagon in the town of Hurricane, we headed to the yurt. It’s quite a ride in! It was later than anticipated, so we were fortunate to have an almost-full moon to light our way. The yurt is a camper’s paradise with very comfortable accommodations. (Thanks so much, Kenny and Heather! I’m sorry you weren’t able to join us, I would have loved to meet you.) Elden built an admirable fire; s’mores were consumed and we enjoyed a camp song the twins learned at Camp Kesem. The next morning brought a quick rainfall and Elden snapped a shot of this gorgeous rainbow:

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Yup, it was pretty tough having to wake up to that view… Absolutely amazing. What a great place.

We returned to the park and hiked to the three Emerald Pools. Late in the season, they were lower than Lisa had ever seen them, but they were still very beautiful.

And then wham, bam, it was time to hit the road and get me back to the airport for my return flight to Missoula.

I can’t thank Lisa, Elden, and the girls enough for accepting me into their pack for a weekend and sharing this wonderful adventure with me. I was made to feel so welcome, and I came away with some lovely memories. Many, many thanks.

As a reminder for how my weekend came about… World Bicycle Relief made an excellent decision in choosing Lisa to be a Team WBR Ambassador. Lisa has surpassed her original fundraising goal of $20,000; her current total stands at $23,726, enough to buy 177 bikes. So many lives will be changed!

The DQ-ing of Fatty, Part 3: Big Motor, Huge Heart

09.24.2014 | 8:17 am

A Note from Fatty: This is part 3 in my race report on the Jordanelle Triathlon. Part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.

It was a strange feeling, being in a race and having every intention of racing hard…but also knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to say I had finished it. I had just put in a blisteringly fast ride, but I hadn’t done the official course. 

When I finished the race, I was going to DQ myself.

It was…liberating.

Like I Was Standing Still

But that didn’t mean I intended to amble my way through the race. No. I had worked hard to get ahead of The Hammer, The Swimmer, Cory, and Lynette; I was not going to let any of them come cruising by me during the run. 

If anyone wanted in front of me, were going to have to earn it.

I got rid of my helmet (aero isn’t that big of an advantage when you’re going only 6mph) and swapped bike shoes for my Altra Paradigms — the road version of the highly cushioned shoe that’s made it possible for me to actually enjoy running.

Or at least, to not dread it altogether.

I started out on my 10K run slowly. And by slowly, I mean, “by walking.” I’ve found that if I give myself fifty feet of walking between the bike ride and the run, the change of leg motion doesn’t feel quite so strange and achy.

Then I ramped up from “slowly” to “running so hard I was feeling like I was going to hurl.” But I didn’t care about the pain (OK, I cared a little, but not as much as I should have). I was running well. I’d go so far as to say I was pretty much having the run of my life. Check out my splits from the Strava of my run

Screenshot 2014 09 24 07 02 15

You see that? I (usually) kept my speed above nine-minute miles, and averaged an 8:50 pace. For me, that’s fast.

However, within the first two miles, a guy — a guy I’ve met before — came flying by me. Probably doing a 7:30 pace.

Heath Thurston, recently-retired pro triathlete and all-around good guy. 

It wasn’t surprising that Heath passed me. No. What was surprising was that Heath passed me while going uphill…and he was pushing a jogging stroller with what looked like a ten year-old girl inside.


My Favorite Part of the Race

The Jordanelle running course starts out on pavement, but then it turns off onto a dirt path, where you’re sent up and down and all around a picnic area. 

Which was great for me: I much prefer running on dirt.

But some of the sections in the run are steep. So steep, in fact, that a lot of the people I saw were walking them.

And Heath…well…even a powerhouse like Heath would have trouble pushing ninety pounds up that hill.

I managed to catch up with Heath, grabbed a side of the push bar, and joined him in getting the stroller up to the top of that hill.

While I did, he told me that this was his niece and he had actually been pulling / pushing her through the whole race.

I was astonished, and suddenly really glad I had DQ’d — if I had still been “in” the race, I doubt I would have taken the time to push along with Heath and talk with him about what he was doing. As it is, I got to have the whole story, which I asked Heath to write up and send to me, so I could pass it along to you. 

After retiring as a pro triathlete this past winter, I felt pretty lost. Being a pro triathlete was basically all I had known for the past decade.

NewImageBut I had an idea.

My oldest daughter has cerebral palsy and special needs; bringing her along with me through a race had been something I’d wanted to do for years and years…but she was always so shy and would end up not wanting to do it when it came right down to the race.

I asked her if she wanted to do the Echo Tri at the end of June; she once again said no. So I asked a friend of mine that has a daughter (Emery) with an undiagnosed disorder if I could pull her daughter through that race.

I then told Kida that she could babysit her in the swim part, so Emery wouldn’t fall out. Finally, she agreed to that.

At Echo, I pulled my daughter and Emery through the swim, then just Emery through the rest.  


At East Canyon Tri, I pulled Kida and another friend’s daughter Olivia through the whole Olympic race. That was a tough one!


Then at Jordanelle (where you saw me) I was pulling my Niece Kindra that has Sturge-Webber syndrome through that olympic course. It was so great to see you on the course that day and to have you run with me and my niece and have you help push Kindra up the hill and thought the weeds. That’s what triathlon and sport are about.



Finally I just had the opportunity to  be able to pull a good buddy of mine Carlos that I used to work with years ago through the Tri Utah Ogden Championships. We set out to do the Half distance but due to some complications and time, we adapted on the fly, doing the 1.2-mile swim, 35 miles on the bike, then the olympic 10k run course.  

All of these races this year have really saved me.  After retiring I felt extremely lost and depressed; I suffer from depression and anxiety but this year was extremely bad, because I use training and racing to self-medicate. Doing these races with and for these kids and friends was probably the best and most important thing i’ve ever done in Triathlon.  

Having a child with special needs is very difficult, but it’s also the most rewarding thing, because the spirit and personality of these kids is absolutely amazing and teaches me so so much about what’s really important in life.  

I don’t really have much in the way of what I’d call a life philosophy, but I do have one pretty simple personal rule that helps me a lot: Find a way to make the world a better place by doing what you love. 

Heath owns that rule. That guy obviously has a big motor, but — a lot more importantly — he’s got a huge heart.


Heath and I parted ways — he re-passed and gapped me, stroller and all — and I continued my race on my own, looking over my shoulder and hoping that I wouldn’t see any of my own crew bearing down on me.

And I didn’t. I crossed the finish line first of my friends and family, then walked over to the timing table and told them to DQ me, and why.

Apparently, the DQ didn’t take, because I got called up to the podium — I had placed third in my age group. So I walked up and said, “Hi, remember me? I DQ’d myself.” 

As our group drove home, we talked about what an incredible day we had all had. The Swimmer had won her age group, The Hammer and Lynette had each taken second in their age groups, Cory had taken first in Clydesdale, and Amber had taken second in women’s overall.

I, in fact, was the only one in our group who had not got on the podium. 

But I had had such a great day.

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