I wonder how many times in my life the bicycle will amaze me. The way this incredibly topheavy-looking machine manages to stay upright with just a couple square inches of rubber touching the ground. It’s like it’s defying gravity.
Or the way it moves much faster than you otherwise could, while requiring less energy, in spite of the fact that your net weight is higher. It’s like it’s defying the laws of physics.
Or the way they can make you happy, just by being out on one, going somewhere…or nowhere.
Or — and this is what I want to talk about today — the way they can help save lives.
I’ve talked a lot about how World Bicycle Relief bikes donated to kids help them get to school, as well as how bikes give them more time for their work and studies. But WBR bikes are also given to volunteer health caregivers, who use them to visit the people who desperately need their help.
These bikes make it possible for these health caregivers to see more people. To help them get water. To bring them medicine. To get them to the clinic. To give them the moral support they need. To, in short, save their lives.
Today, I’m lucky enough to be the first person to get to show you the latest video in World Bicycle Relief’s “Mobilize Me” series, about the power of a bike. Please watch what Royce, a volunteer caregiver rural Zambia, is able to accomplish with a Buffalo Bicycle has to say:
So, yes. The $134 bicycle you donate might make it so that a person (no, make that two people, because of the dollar-for-dollar matching) like Royce is able to see five times as many patients. Helping people, educating them, and improving lives throughout her village.
That amazes me. And makes me so happy.
I’ve written a little bit more about the volunteer caregivers who get WBR bikes. Take a look at that post…and then take the time to donate. You might win win one of the five incredible bikes we’ll be giving away.
A Note from Fatty: The Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5 is going strong. To learn the basics of this amazing event, click here. To learn about the Ibis Ripley (one of 5 bikes to be given away as prizes), click here. To learn more about World Bicycle Relief itself, click here. And to make a donation to be entered in this contest, click here.
Lament in Three Parts Over Inclement Weather in an Oft-Sunny Clime
Betimes I consider
How it could be possible
That I have stumbled
Into this, my life
How is it that I am me
And not another
Some other guy
Who maybe doesn’t even own a bike
When I think such Thoughts
My heart recoils
And I once again
Reflect upon my luck
For I ride with the core team
And each autumn we get together
For an event called Fall Moab
Which—truth be known—is only occasionally in Moab
But it is during the autumn!
And usually it is perfect
The weather is mild
Note how I said “usually,” above
Part I: The Bad
The core team gathered
To ride in St George
For a long weekend
We had plans
Oh such grand plans
To stay in the yurt
Which Kenny has built
A yurt on Gooseberry Mesa!
Surely it will, one day,
Be a coveted destination
A place to stay while riding in beautiful desert
But not this day
For the weather kicked up
As we drove to St George
And the snow was so hard-driven
We nearly turned around
But we did not
No, we did not turn around
But we also did not stay in a yurt
We camped, instead, at Kenny and Heather’s home
Part II: The Good
I confess I was weak
I had my doubts
And in short
Riding in the rain didn’t sound that great
And yet, it was great
Sure, we didn’t ride as far
Or as long
But sometimes, riding at all is what matters
And when it comes right down to it
Most of us are closing in on 50
And one good ride per day
Is probably enough
And so we rode
For three days
On local trails
Often, beginning from Kenny’s house
And you know
Maybe Fall Moab
Isn’t about where or how much
But about who is there
Yeah, let’s go with that for now
Part III: The Video
I shall now conclude
With a video montage
Of Fall Moab 2014
A Note from Fatty: Not sure what the Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5 is? Click here for the basics. Want to just get an easy link to where you go to donate (and hopefully win this incredible bike)? Click right here.
Let me take you back about 18 years ago. A bunch of us in the core team were on the way back from Moab, talking about the ride. Exaggerating our successful moves. Exaggerating our unsuccessful moves even more.
And talking about bikes. Of course. I posed an open-ended question to everyone in the car: “If you could get any mountain bike, what would it be?”
I don’t remember anyone else’s answer, but I remember Dug’s: “An Ibis Szazbo.”
“A what?” I replied.
I had never heard of Ibis before, much less the Szazbo, and started researching. And before long, I fell in love with the company. Before long, I owned an Ibis Mojo, a Bow Ti, a Ti Mojo, and a Silk Ti (I tend to go a little overboard when I love something).
And to this day, the only bike — out of the dozens of bikes I have owned over the years — I have ever regretted selling is my Ibis Ti Mojo. I really wish I still had that bike.
Ibis bikes have a tendency to inspire that kind of devotion in its riders.
“Let Me Show You Something”
So now, let me flash forward about fifteen years, to just a few years ago. The Hammer and I were in France with Andy Hampsten’s riding tour…and Scot Nicol—the founder and head honcho for Ibis—was one of the tour guides with us. Which is very much like having Jimi Hendrix being your tour guide through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Except that Scot Nicol—aka Chuck Ibis—isn’t dead. He’s alive and well and still creating bikes that make me want one so very, very badly.
During one of the evenings while we were in France, Scot pulled me aside and said, “Let me show you something.” That “something” was the suspension design for a new bike they were working on: the Ripley 29.
It was astonishing. Like, ridiculously amazing alien space technology.
“How soon can I have one?” I asked.
“It’ll be a while,” Scot replied.
And in fact, it was another three years. Because Ibis takes the time to get bikes right.
But when they unveil a bike, well, wow:
You should read the story of how this bike came to be; it’s an incredibly fascinating read. I should warn you, though: I think you’re going to want one.
Which actually works out well, because the Ibis Ripley 29 — a dream frame dressed out in dream parts — is one of the bikes we’ll be giving away as part of the Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5.
A Little More About The Bike
In a minute I’m going to show you just a few of the pages and pages of glowing reviews for the Ripley 29er, but first, how about some of the basic specs?
Well, first of all, there’s the frame itself, which you can (and should) read about in Ibis’s Ripley 29 product page.
Thanks to the ingenious design of the Ripley 29, you can build it up either as a XC racer (which is how I’d do it), or as more of an all-mountain machine if that’s more your riding style.
For the drivetrain, you’ll want to set it up with the SRAM XX1 group (if you’re thinking in terms of XC) or the XO1 group (for an all-mountain build). Both are innovative and highly lustworthy drivetrains that let you skip the front derailleur nonsense, doing all your shifting in the back. Hey, it’s really nice to no longer have to ever think about dropping your chain.
If you’re keeping it light, Chuck recommends you go with a set of Rise wheels and a SID fork. You’ll also want to go with a 32-tooth chainring, and then choose between either Gripshift or trigger shifting. Either way, SRAM’s got you covered. Icing on this drivetrain cake of awesomeness will be XX Brakes.
If you are thinking more All-Mountain-y, maybe you should go with Roam wheels and a Pike fork, with XO trail brakes.
However you’re going to build it, you’re going to make me drool with envy and probably beg to come over and borrow your bike.
So, how did I get Ibis to join in the Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5?
Well, Ibis has a history of being great guys. And Chuck — Scot — in particular has a thing about doing the right thing.
So when I emailed him about this fundraiser, asking him to be part of it, he said:
I have not yet talked to my partners about this but we are in. I’m going to tell them right now.
Ripley it is. We can get the winner a bike almost immediately. So that should entice folks.
This looks really great. In fact, it looks freaking awesome.
We can kick in the parts that SRAM doesn’t make.
Then they went and posted their own story about this fundraiser. I especially liked this part:
We at Ibis did nothing for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. We know it’s cliché, but we rode our bikes. The calendar skipped over to December this weekend and we were experiencing temperatures that were unseasonable to say the least, 72º F in our part of California, which translates to 22º C in the rest of the solar system. So we exercised our bodies rather than our credit cards.
We decided not to inundate either your email or your senses with offers of great deals. And we’re still not going to ask you to buy anything from us. But we do want to make you aware that today is “Giving Tuesday”, and with that, we’d like to let you know about a wonderful organization that is doing the right thing.
And that wonderful organization is World Bicycle Relief. And the fundraiser is this one. And — as many of you know — Ibis has helped me in a lot of other fundraisers in the past.
And in short, I want to give Scot and everyone else at Ibis a big Fatty-style hug for being the kind of people we all want to be, while building the kinds of bikes we all want to ride.
Ibis is awesome.
More About the Ripley 29
I’m not the only one who’s kind of head-over-heels about the Ripley 29. Basically, everyone who’s ridden one is, too. Check out the Ripley 29 review page for all the reviews; here are just a few excerpts:
SEHR GUT! Critics will be enthralled by its agile handling.- MOUNTAIN BIKE GERMANY
Long days in the saddle on challenging terrain are its dream territory, but short blasts in the local woods have been equally enticing, with a couple of rides where the word ‘sublime’ was uttered….Ibis says the aim was ‘to bring the advantages of a 29in wheel to a lightweight, nimble and fun trail bike’. We think Ibis has managed that perfectly. -Singletrack Magazine
It is a dreamy combination of laser-sharp pointability and mistake forgiving stability. Combine this with the low head tube and short rear, and the Ripley is as nimble as any 26-inch bike with a 29er’s penchant for simply obliterating obstacles under pure circumference. It is divine. -Switchback Magazine
It’s ridiculously flickable in fast, twisty singletrack – big wheels and all – and even tight uphill switchbacks are easy to navigate….Taken in total, the blistering pedaling performance, supple rear end, fast-rolling 29in wheels, and quick yet stable handling make for a freakishly fast ride. We smashed more than a few Strava PRs on standard test loops, and continued to record similarly fast times on other familiar trails. -Bike Radar
The bike offers a great feeling of stability without sacrificing the all important playfulness that a proper bike must have, and it made for a feeling of traction that you wanted to quantify with high-fives and huge grins at the bottom of every loose downhill section of trail….we should mention that we actually scaled two sections of trail aboard the Ripley that we have never managed while on any other bike, as well as setting a personal best time on a local singletrack climb that always tests us. -Pinkbike.com
Ripley gives you all the tools to slay any ride, but does so in a way that allows you to just forget all that technology is there and simply ride with a big smile on your face….Few other trail bikes could be your all-day backcountry mule one weekend, and cutting-edge race machine the next….It took me riding the Ripley to realize I’ve never ridden a bike with perfectly tuned kinematics—until now. -Bike Magazine
So yeah. You want one.
A Little Bit More About the Grand Slam
In my post last Monday I gave you the general details about this fundraiser and what’s amazing about it, but there are a few points I want to emphasize here.
First, this is an amazing cause. It makes a difference, immediately and permanently. The help you give these people now gives them the boost they need to make their own lives better. Check out this inspiring video from World Bicycle Relief to get a sense of what I mean.
Second, your money is getting doubled. Honestly, that’s a pretty hard thing for me to wrap my mind around, but it’s true. Whatever you donate, someone else is matching. Your money has double power. Really, I should have called this fundraiser “The Power of 10” because every $134 you donate to buy a bike becomes two bikes, and every bike makes a difference to five people, on average.
Seriously, that’s more bang for your donation buck than I can comprehend.
Third, while the odds are that you aren’t going to win this Ripley 29 — or any of the four other bikes I’ll be talking about in the next few weeks — somebody is going to win them. Yep, five top-end bikes, in one contest. I am not aware of any other bike contest, ever, that has ever had such an extraordinary spread of prizes. So, huge thanks to SRAM and the five bike companies that have been insanely generous with their donations.
And even huger thanks to everyone who has donated or is going to donate. I love and appreciate your generosity.
So, again: Thank you for donating. And I hope you win.
A Note from Fatty: If you’re already on board and are ready to donate, click here to go to the donation page. Thanks!
I think most people would like to think that they’re trying to make a difference in others’ lives. To be a force for good. And when you help another person, it feels pretty great.
But what if your donation had the power to make a difference not just in one person’s life, but in five people’s lives?
And what if your donation were automatically doubled, so that it had double the impact it normally did?
Oh, and what if…just by the way…when you donated you’d automatically be getting chances at winning not one dream bike, but at one of five dream bikes? Wouldn’t that be cool? (Answer: yes, it would be pretty cool.)
Well, I think you’re going to want to read a little more about the fundraiser for World Bicycle Relief I’m kicking off today:
Shouldn’t This Be Called “Grand Slam 3?”
Those of you who have followed this blog and my fundraisers for a while might be wondering why this isn’t called “Grand Slam for Zambia 3” or something like that. Well, the fact is, this is the fifth fundraiser I’ve done for World Bicycle Relief. First, there was the one Johan Bruyneel and I did together. Next, there was Grand Slam 1, followed by Grand Slam 2. Then, last summer we took advantage of Trek’s generous matching offer and the Trek Madone they were offering to someone who donated.
And that brings us to “The Power of 5,” which I think you’ll agree is a pretty special number.
Let me explain.
What Does “The Power of 5” Mean?
When a person in Zambia gets a bike from World Bicycle Relief, they can go much farther, and much faster. And they can carry five times as much as they otherwise could:
A loaded-up WBR bike I photographed at the market in Lusaka — a very common sight.
That’s a very powerful multiplying force.
The thing is, though, a $134 Buffalo bicycle provided by World Bicycle relief doesn’t just make one student’s (or one healthcare worker’s) life better. Each bike improves the lives of—on average—five people: the person who receives the bike, her family, and her neighbors.
And the bikes benefit five common groups. You know about the three I’ve talked about before: students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs.
But these bicycles also provide jobs to the people who make a living building them:
And the people who make a living servicing them:
So. This is my fifth WBR fundraiser. People carry five times as much with a WBR bike, each bike affects five people, and they benefit five kinds of people.
That’s a pretty good “Power of 5” story, don’t you think?
But there’s more.
The Power of 5…Awesome Bikes
You know that I’m going to hit you up for a donation, and you know that I am going to try to sweeten that donation with some awesome prizes.
How about this: we’re going to give away five dream bikes as prizes in this fundraiser.
But it gets cooler than that. These five bikes will be come from five different bike makers. In alphabetical order:
That’s right. These five different companies—normally rivals—have joined together to show that while it’s fine to compete during business hours, when it comes to doing the right thing and making the world a better place, they’re more than happy to work together.
And that’s an incredibly powerful—and, frankly, beautiful—message.
During the next few weeks I’ll be revealing the details of exactly which bikes they’ll be giving away as part of this contest. For right now, let me simply say that they are dream bikes, each and every one of them. And they are all outfitted with top-of-the-line components from the SRAM family.
This Wednesday, I’ll be revealing details about what bike Ibis is donating, and how it will be spec’d. As a hint, let me just say that it’s a highly desirable bike, and Ibis founder Scot Nicol—aka Chuck Ibis—is choosing the parts himself, ensuring it will be the most amazing bike you could possibly hope for.
So, you may want to make sure you check back on Wednesday, OK?
How Can You Donate (and Maybe Win)?
It’s simple to donate and enter the contest for these five dream bikes (and yes, no matter when you donate, you’re entered for the drawing of each of the five bikes). Just go to my WBR fundraiser page and make a donation.
For every $5.00 you donate (yes, I’m looking for every possible opportunity to fit the number 5 into this contest), you’ll get a chance at winning these five bikes. So, please donate in multiples of $5.00.
As a bonus, though, if you donate the cost of a WBR bike — $134 — you’ll be given an additional (you guessed it) five chances.
This contest goes through the end of December, at which point a WBR employee will do the drawing to ensure that I don’t somehow wind up winning all five bikes myself. (Don’t worry; my family and I aren’t eligible to win any of the prizes. Alas.)
The Power of 5, Doubled
With this fundraiser, your donation is already working incredibly hard to make life better for people in Africa who need the help (not to mention giving you a chance at an amazing group of bikes). But it gets better, because during this month — all of December — all of our donations are being matched, dollar for dollar.
So if you donate $5, some mysterious person with deep pockets and a big heart is going to donate $5. If you donate enough to buy a bike, that mysterious person is going to donate enough to buy another one.
And in short, your money is going twice as far as it otherwise would. Which means we’ll be able to fill warehouse after warehouse with bikes:
But that’s just the first step. Because once we get them built, we get to give them away:
And then, because of our donations, thousands of children will be able to stay in school. And get better jobs. And have better medical care.
And have better lives.
Because of the bicycle. And because of you.
That’s what Grand Slam for Zambia: The Power of 5 is about. Thanks for donating and being a part of it.
PS: Plus it’s kinda fun to dream about winning a dream bicycle.
PPS: If you’ve got questions, leave them in the comments section; I’ll try to get to them, and Katie at WBR will, too.
A Note from Fatty: If you came to my blog today to find my mashed potatoes recipe, click here. If you came for the banana cream parfait, the recipe is here. And if you came to buy a t-shirt, you’re too late.
Every year since 2007, I’ve had a day-before-Thanksgiving tradition: to write a “thankful” post (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). This year, I have a few things in particular I want to mention.
Thankful for the Off-Season
2013 was an amazing riding year for The Hammer and me. We did a half-Ironman. We did the Rockwell Relay. Leadville. Crusher in the Tushar. Salt to Saint. 24 Hours in Old Pueblo. 25 Hours in Frog Hollow. The LiveStrong Challenge. Africa in Moab. Levi’s GranFondo. The 100 Miles of Nowhere. And more.
Neither of us have ever been so fit or fast. Neither of us have ever raced so much, and The Hammer has made the podium her home.
Now, the final race of the year is behind us. And we haven’t really started thinking about our 2014 schedule yet.
And it feels wonderful to not have a race to be thinking about. To not have something to train for.
You know what happened yesterday? I’ll tell you. It’s going to blow your mind.
I was busy working on my book and daylight kind of got away from me, so an outside ride was out of the question. It was very cold outside, so I didn’t The Hammer said, “Well, you can go set up the rollers and do a Sufferfest video or watch something on Netflix if you want.”
And I said, “Nope. I’m just not going to work out today.”
That’s right. I just didn’t ride. It wasn’t a rest day. It wasn’t a taper. I just took the day off.
And it was exquisite.
Now, I don’t intend to stop riding altogether. After all, this was the first day in about a week I hadn’t bundled up and gotten out on a ride, and I’ve been having fun on these rides. But when you’ve been riding on a very strict and focused schedule for about nine months, to be able to just shrug your shoulders and say, “To hell with it, I’m not riding today,” feels incredibly luxurious and indulgent.
And that is why, at least partially, I haven’t gotten into cyclocross. I’ve been racing and racing and racing. I am all raced out. The thought of getting up early on weekend mornings, gathering my stuff together, feeling the race anxiety build in my gut, flogging myself on a muddy course, then spending the rest of the day cleaning my bike and gear…well, it doesn’t appeal to me. At least it doesn’t appeal to me as much as going out and mellowly riding random trails at Lambert Park.
I am currently loving riding or not riding, as the mood strikes me.
I am thankful for, in short, the off-season.
Thankful for Now
I spend a lot of time thinking about this one: I’m really thankful that I live when I do. I start thinking about what a person like me would do fifty years ago. Before there was social media and personal publishing. Before there were incredible bikes available at reasonable prices. Before the world was, in short, a technology wonderland.
I’ve raised millions of dollars (around three million at this point) for charitable causes I care deeply about. I couldn’t have done that before easy electronic payments were possible. Or before blogging. Or social networking.
I’ve written one book, published two, and am working on a third. Until a few years ago, my publishing options were incredibly limiting. Now they’re wide-open.
Until a few years ago, the likelihood of me finding the few thousand like-minded people in the world and then haphazardly establishing a friendship with all these people would have been none. The odds against me meeting the guys at Twin Six and putting together a great partnership and friendship — now in its sixth year — would have been huge.
The fact is, the stuff I love doing wasn’t possible even a few years ago. I’m thankful to be living in what is, essentially, a science fiction paradise.
The Honey Stinger Dark Chocolate Mocha Cherry Protein Bar
I know, expressing gratitude for a protein bar may seem kind of weird. Until you try this particular protein bar.
The Hammer. My kids. The Core Team. My readers. I have somehow wound up in a life with an incredible group of people around me, both physically and virtually.
For whatever part you have had in my life, thank you.
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