'Fat Cyclist' raisies money for cancer research

2011-07-10T00:15:00Z 2011-07-10T08:49:16Z 'Fat Cyclist' raisies money for cancer researchNatalie Barrett - Correspondent Daily Herald
July 10, 2011 12:15 am  • 

Elden Nelson started off calling himself "fat cyclist" on his blog as a means of weight loss by humiliation.

"By all means, feel free to call me fatty," says Nelson's Twitter account.

He posted his weight daily, took photos and blogged about his passion for cycling.

"I resolved to start a blog, embarrassing myself by proclaiming my weight on a daily basis, no matter how bad I was doing," Nelson wrote. "I didn't want to just post my weight, though. So I also wrote stories."

The stories were about cycling, exercising, aging and balding, but things changed. In August 2009, Nelson's wife, Susan, died of breast cancer after a five-year fight. The blog found new light in raising awareness and funds for cancer research.

"The thing about cancer is it's so random and it is so awful," Nelson said. "If you don't find a way to turn it into something good, then it just eats at you. I guess (the blog) has been my way of taking something horrible and turning into something good. There is no way that I could ever say that my late wife's death was a good thing in any possible way, but at least because of her death, thousands of people have become more aware of the fight and hundreds if not thousands of people have gone out of their way to participate in challenges and join this fight."

Nelson, by his humor and writing ability, has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers and has become a popular sports-related blogger.

In the past two seasons, Fat Cyclist has raised $1.7 million for Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation and $70,000 for the World Bicycle Relief fund, which supplies bicycles to children in Zambia to enable them to travel to school, among other charities and others who just needed help.

"I'm amazed and impressed with how often and how much people are willing to give," Nelson said. "It is a nice flip-side to what you usually hear about the Internet, where terrible people are doing terrible things or looking for ways to steal or embarrass or humiliate. In my blog, all I ever see is really good people doing something awesome for someone they have never met. That is a pretty cool side of the Internet community that you don't hear too much about."

Despite the national recognition, Nelson is proud to be in Utah and plans to attend an upcoming and local cycling event in American Fork -- the Tour de Donut.

"There are only five in the nation," said Glenn Smith , communications manager for the event. "It combines people's love for cycling and people's enjoyment of doughnut eating."

The race includes three 7-mile laps, with two stops for doughnuts. Each doughnut eaten takes three minutes off the total time.

"We've actually had some riders in past years get a negative time," Smith said. "The longest negative was 13 minutes and that is off 28 doughnuts that were eaten. Most people don't eat that many doughnuts. Most people eat from one to a dozen."

This year, they predict to purchase 1,500 to 2,000 doughnuts to have on hand for the riders.

"You go there and you race around a short course, then you stuff your face with doughnuts, then you race around again," Nelson said. "It's funny and people don't take it too seriously and we don't want to."

Nelson said the thing that he is most excited about the event is the charities they support and the benefit it will bring that is local and practical.

"The thing that I am most interested in is they are raising money to get a blanket warmer for the cancer building in the American Fork Hospital," Nelson said. "My wife, she actually went there and I saw firsthand people, when having their chemo treatments, get cold and uncomfortable. This is a nice way to help someone who is going through something nasty and give them a little comfort."

The event will benefit the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the American Fork Hospital and the Kona Bike Town Africa foundation.

"It's a fun way to do something good," Nelson said.

For more information on the Tour de Donut visit utahtourdedonut.org and for more information on the fat cyclist visit http://fatcy.cl/teamfatty.

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