Phenominal fundraising

The Fat Cyclist’s best posts are his open letters. Last Thursday, he wrote to Johan Bruyneel eloquently articulating the case for his employment as a professional cyclist with Team RadioShack. On Friday, Johann responded on his blog, inviting the Fat Cyclist to attend the team’s training camp this week end if he could raise US$10,000 for each of two charities: Livestrong (naturally) and World Bicycle Relief Fund. Furthermore, if he could raise US$25,000 for each charity, the team would sign and donate a Trek Madone.

By Sunday, Fatty had his fundraising strategy in place. Donating in multiples of US$5 to either charity would give the donor the chance of winning  either a custom painted Fat Cyclist Gary Fisher Superfly (donated by Gary Fisher Bikes) or a Team RadioShack signed Trek Madone.

Within 24hours, and less than three days after Fatty had written the letter, Team Fatty had raised US$50,000. Johan upped the stakes by doubling the target and offering one lucky donor the trip of a life-time to the last day of next year’s Tour in Paris. That ceiling was broken through on Tuesday. The amount raised now stands in excess of US$115,000 and it closes tomorrow noon (MST).

I am always amazed at the generousity of Americans to good causes. The cynics amongst you might say that it’s tax deductible and that they’re only in it to win something. However, I suspect that if the only prize on offer had been getting Fatty to the camp, his loyal readers would still have raised the money. I hope he has a blast. It couldn’t happen to a nicer chap.

Postscript: Team Fatty raised an amazing US$135,000

Austin Diary II

The alarm went off and I sprang out of bed. I felt dreadful, as if I’d been asleep for only 5 minutes. I went into the bathroom and, as I was brushing my teeth, caught sight of my watch – 22:05! Yes, I had only been asleep for about 5 minutes. I had set the watch on my mobile phone, totally forgetting that it was still on CET time. I went back to bed.

The alarm went off and I sprang out of bed. I checked, it was 04:00am. Everything had been laid out the night before, checked and double-checked, to ensure that it was all  present and correct. I washed, dressed and ate breakfast before making my way out of the hotel for my taxi-ride to Drippin’ Springs. Ricky, my cab driver, didn’t seem too sure on the exact location but fortunately we had a fellow participant leaving the hotel at the same time, who had driven the route yesterday. We gratefully followed him to the drop-off point.

It was pitch black, not too cold and just after 06:00am as I rode the mile or so from the car parking to the start. There were some krieg lights and volunteers helpfully waving torches but I couldn’t see much: easily the scariest bit of the whole event.  I eschewed any hot drinks, preferring to slowly and regularly sip water before availing myself of the portable facilities – nice touch. I was one of the early birds and made an executive decision that I was going to start at the front of the 90 milers.

Austin Start Line
Fatty and the Fatties

This turned out to be a wise decision as the highest fund raising teams were beckoned forward to the start line where we were feted and entertained by the Livestrong folks. A few words from Lance and then we were off. Lance and his celebrity chums were given a 6 minute head start. Word must have reached him about my training regime.

Lance at start
Lance readying himself to flee

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had heard various tales about the state of the roads, we were after all in “Texas Hill Country” and would be fording streams and cow guards. However, while the tarmac was a little rougher than I’m used to and cow guards, like most obstacles, are no trouble if you tackle them head on, the route was fine, not too much sand and gravel. The route was undulating and unfamiliar, there were a couple of steepish climbs of over 10%, but they lasted no more than 500 metres. More importantly, the descents were straight and fast. I sheltered from the wind by riding with four young guys from Texas who, like me, stopped only when necessary to fill up their bidons. There were power stops every 10 miles with drinks, eats, mechanical and medical assistance and more of those portable facilities. In addition, there were riders on the course checking if you needed, water, mechanical or medical help.

Riders overtaking shouted “on your left”. There was no undertaking and no dangerous riding. I did see a couple of crashes but nothing too serious. Although the guy that crashed the cow guard will probably be facing an expensive dental bill.  There were rolling road closures and every turn and junction was manned, so there was no need to stop. The route was well sign posted, particularly all the hazards. We had plenty of support on the road from those living in the area who were sitting by the roadside, refreshments to hand. There were around 3,800 riders and I would estimate they were split 1/3rd women, 2/3rds men with an average age of 35. I made better time than I anticipated and was greeted at the finishing line by the Fat Cyclist himself.

I should also thank  all of the 900 volunteers who worked so hard to ensure the participants had a wonderful, safe ride.

My abiding memory of the event wasn’t Lance, or even the Fat Cyclist, it was all those cancer sufferers and cancer survivors who took part and were quite rightly honoured, however far they cycled.

Old friends

Catching up with old friends is one of the more enjoyable aspects of attending the Championships. I first met the gentleman below in  Stuttgart (2007). He’s first and foremost a passionate and knowledgable supporter of cycling and has been to more world championships (road, track, masters juniors) than I’ve had hot dinners.

Bert and Me
Bert and Me

 I understand he was a keen cyclist in his youth and spent time in London after the war learing his trade before returning to New Zealand and taking up a number of key roles in NZ cycling. Nowadays, he’s NZ’s UCI representative and still does some media liaison work.

Bert is a real charmer, everybody knows and loves him.  Many years ago he danced with a young Princess Elizabeth. Maybe, he reminded her of this in 2007 when he received his NZ Order of Merit for services to cycling. Among his many other awards, he also received a special merit one from the UCI in 2005. 

We generally keep in touch via email and telephone but when we meet up I love listening to his tales of former riders. He’s seen just about everyone and I particularly enjoy hearing about Coppi and Bartali. As you can see below, he has an extensive archive on NZ cycling and a large library of cycling books.

Bert and his archives
Bert and his archives

It’s a challenge to know what to get him as a gift but so far have struck lucky with one of Rapha’s beautiful annual photo albums and, the most recent, a charming tale about Louison Bobet written by his brother and translated into English. I trust he had an uneventful trip back to NZ and I’ll be thinking of him on October 25 as he’s currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Here’s hoping and praying I get to see him in Melbourne.

Fight like Susan

I got back yesterday evening after after a fairly hectic day and found a few minutes to check my email before heading out again. I saw I had an email from Twin Six, with their T-shirt of the month, which I immediately opened. As I did so, I saw a message at the foot of the page “Fight Like Susan”. What happened to” Win Susan”?

I went back to my email and saw I had one from the captain of the Fat Cyclist Austin Livestrong Team with the same headline message. I didn’t need to open it, I knew what it meant. Instead, I headed over to the Fat Cyclists’s site where, eloquent as ever, Fatty paid tribute to his much loved wife Susan: a truly courageous and inspirational lady. He’s right Susan didn’t lose, we’re the losers.