Thursday, March 13, 2008

My turn to "rant" about Marty and Floyd Landis

I get lazy about writing. Well let me amend that statement, I am NOT really lazy about blogging. I blog every day over at TBV, but I have been remiss over here in my own little world as you can see by the date of my last entry. Martin Dugard, however, has inspired me to get off my butt and do a little spouting all my own. I can say here what I like, as opposed to what I feel comfortable saying over on TBV where I must remain at least a bit politically correct (or objective, whichever term pleases you the most.) After I read the utterly presumptive, obnoxious, disloyal crap Marty wrote yesterday about Floyd Landis, and others, I figured if not now when? So here I am spouting off about a jerk who doesn't deserve my time. Marty spouted himself about a few things yesterday that he obviously needs schooling in, so come on Marty tell us when was the last time you got to watch Floyd Landis interact with his dad? You seem to put a lot of stock in the "Dugardian" brand of pseudo-psychology you use to determine that Floyd's relationship with his father is in part responsible for what you base your final conclusions upon. Guess what Marty, some of us have actually had the chance to see the two of them in proximity, extensively I might add. The angst and drama you suppose just does not exist, at least not from what I saw. Sorry Marty, but it's all in your head, as I suspect a LOT of what you wrote the other day may be. No Marty, YOU are the one who needs some kind of "analysis". What you wrote did not edify, or illuminate, but what you wrote accomplished what I feel you wanted it to, and that was to get ATTENTION. Maybe you are feeling a bit ignored, or lost in the shuffle as it were, only you know that. Yup Marty, you are like a lot of the little boys I teach in elementary school, any attention is good so long as YOU are at the center of it. Well kid, you're not fooling many of us who are informed, we know that it is all about YOU. So, have fun in your playpen of bitter disillusionment, it suits you to a tee. Next time you wander out however, try to think it out a bit more before you stab two old friends in the back, 'cause Marty it's you who comes out stinking like leftover fish on Friday night.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Floyd's Lancaster Booksigning and More

Amber Landis and I at Floyd's book signing in Lancaster , PA June 29.

Hi all, this will be late in coming to you I know, and there is nothing earth shattering in it, but I have tons to do and so little time to do it all in. Who said summertime when the living is easy? Gershwin? :-) Anyway I'll start with Friday (Saturday was fun, but no Floyd content, let me know if you all want to hear what a tourist trap Intercourse,PA is and I'll tell you about it) We did start out Friday having breakfast at the Oregon Dairy where everyone gets a doughnut and ice cold glass of milk with a breakfast order. Great food, scary calories, but it was kind of on the "Landis Reality Tour" so we went there.(this was where Floyd had his first job as a grocery checker) I'll skip to the chase since the rest of Friday was a lot of shopping nonsense. We were staying in Ephrata at Doneckers(we did not know at that time that we might have stayed with Floyd and company at the Hurst House, oh well no one told me!) and had to head down rte. 222 to Fruitville Pike to the Barnes&Noble, about 20 minutes away. I figured that there would be about 100 seats available at the signing and that if we left @ 5 we would find 2. We got there at 5:20 and there were only 50 seats and they were all taken, the signing started at 7. There were,as it turns out, two seats in the front row not together that someone noticed, and a nice gentleman moved over so I could sit with Mark and we wound up with seats 1 and 2, go figure. I was sitting next to a very nervous young man who was thrilled to be seeing Floyd in person, the people behind us were nice and we all chatted as we dared not get up. They roped off the seating area at 6, it was like being caught in a crime scene. We were allowed to go for bathroom breaks. The B&N folks ran the show, and were obviously delighted that by the time 6:15 came around there were more than 400 people waiting to be "Floyded." At 6:30 the manager of the B&N came out and announced to those seated that Floyd had been in a car accident on the way and that they were all being checked out by ambulance personnel , but that no one was injured! As it turns out Amber Landis and Brooke Emerson were in the accident and were thankfully OK. Floyd walked into the B&N book singing area, saw me and Mark and said "hi" telling us the girls were fine and not to worry. He then answered questions for about 15 minutes, nothing really revealing at this point. He was then told he had to start signing books so we all got out our little post-its to write what we wanted him to write in our books. He came over to me to ask if I brought brownies, I said yes and thought, shoot I do other things too Floyd!! :-) He signed our books first and we had a couple of laughs but no time to talk of course. By them Tammy and Neal Martin and the Umbles (old friends of the Landis family) were let into the "police tape" and we stood there for 2 hours and talked with them. Amber (Floyd's wife) and Brooke Emerson joined us and we spent until almost 10 talking. Mark (my husband) and I were hungry and it looked like it would be a LONG time before Floyd was done so we begged off dinner with the crew and got a bite. Not exciting stuff I know, but that was Friday. It's funny because I know that it must be wonderful to go home, but everyone there seems to expect so much from Floyd, and at this point Floyd may be (IMHO) running out of stuff to give.

Floyd signing his book in Lancaster, PA June 29th.

On Sunday we got to Green Mountain early and Jen Farrington (an old friend of Floyd's, she and her husband Mike ar
e wonderful people who have loved him since he was a kid) and I went up to the ride staging area to cross the names of the paying riders off the lists and "band" them with purple arm bands so we knew who got food after the ride and who was just there for the ride itself. Only a few minor disagreements ensued, some people wanted to just pay and go, but as Jen explained, they had food for just over 100 people and no more. Mark went off to get ready to ride with Floyd and I went back to the picnic area and started working: getting tables ready, putting food out, cooking, ect, boring stuff I will skip over. Floyd got back from breakfast late and almost hit me with Mike's Harley in the driveway, something I will not forget!! :-) And he rushed up to the staging area and the cyclists were off. They were gone for about 1.5 hours (easy 20 mile ride). All the cyclists started filtering back to Green Mountain where the picnic was held out back. Floyd got back and went upstairs for a shower and to just sit. I knew he was mentally getting himself ready to meet and greet the masses, I can't imagine having to deal with it all frankly. I went up to the kitchen to get a bottle opener for a Blue Moon and Floyd, Amber, and Ryan were all snuggling on the Farrington's couch for a quiet moment of togetherness, which I only momentarily interrupted to ask if they required anything. Floyd came down with Ryan about 20 minutes later and was ushered into a canopied tent to sign books and chat. That went on for well over 2 hours and he never did get much to eat. He finally headed to the garage and tried to politely "hide" in there for awhile. Mark and I acted as buffers for him as he tried to talk to his Mom and Dad and some actual friends. Floyd and I chatted briefly on and off, the only really interesting moment for me came when for whatever reason there was (for a second or two no one else in garage). I was standing close to Floyd looking at him, saying nothing (I was sun burned , tired, and hungry myself) and I must have had a strange expression on my face (one which I assure you all I was not aware) and Floyd started looking very concerned and said to me," I'll be all right, really I will. You don't have to worry about me". And he looked at me like he was worried about ME. I never got a chance to respond as people realized he was in the garage and came up to him to talk. He finally got himself out of there about 6 (the picnic had started at 2:30) and went upstairs to chill. I felt slightly like an intruder frankly and so after cleaning up the yard with some friends of the Farringtons we went up to say good-bye to Floyd. He shook my hand, said stay in touch, and then he said I KNOW you will!! :-) Funny guy. One of the best parts of the weekend was that I got a great chance to visit with Arlene and Paul Landis, we spoke for well over an hour and they are the nicest people on the face of the earth. As a matter of fact Arlene had called me on my cell phone at 6:45AM Sunday to ask if I wanted to go to church with them. Mark and I had been out late the night before celebrating our anniversary and I was in no shape to go to church :-) But I did have a real excuse as I had to be at Green Mountain Cyclery early to set up for the picnic. It was another wonderful weekend in Lancaster County, and as do all the people who root for and love Floyd I too wait anxiously for the arbitration decision to come down. For more pictures from the above events go to:

Floyd signs books, and lots of other things at the" ride with Floyd picnic" in Ephrata, PA Sunday July, 1.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Floyd in Richmond,VA

My good friends Barb Pagels and her husband John went to Stool Pigeons in Richmond, VA on April 5 to meet Floyd and have a couple of beers. John took a picture of Floyd with Barb and was kind enough to share it with us. Thanks, and welcome to the "Blogosphere" Barb!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Floyd Landis Homecoming

They were supposed to be fund raisers for Floyd Landis, and because of their location they turned into the proverbial homecoming, and so much more. The FFF road show came to Ephrata, just north of Lancaster, PA, the closest "large" village to Farmersville which is Floyd's actual hometown. The weekend was replete with feasts for family and friends, meet and greets for supporters, and lots of love and prayers from people who had known Floyd since he was very young. I fall into the plain old supporter category, though the gracious and generous people of Lancaster Co made me feel as though they had known me all their lives and I was one of them. I am not of course, but I am someone who cares deeply about what happens to Floyd Landis and has cared about what happens to him as a cyclist for a long time. Now that I have met him, and his family, the stakes for me seem higher. I am now concerned about what happens to Floyd Landis the man. The whole time became a whirlpool of new friends, back roads covered bridges, farm scenes from Edward Hopper, and stories from the past about Floyd, some not for public consumption. No wonder I feel as though the past 3 days which passed like three minutes, somehow seems to have begun three weeks ago. Maybe time and reality move differently in Lancaster, Co.

Besides feeling tired what I feel most keenly is privileged that I was not only able to attend the many functions held for Floyd that weekend, but also that I was made to feel an important part of things. I am very grateful to have been there to see the extent of the hard work by the utterly competent people who make the FFF events happen. I also got to see the reactions of those who either do know Floyd or feel they know him, and even though all of the public attention is clearly not his preference, he manages to handle it with grace and encouragement for the people who in this case clearly adored him. This was the part I enjoyed the most, being able to sit back and observe all of the various folks waiting in line for a few moments with Floyd, for a few seconds of his attention. What they really craved though was not only his autograph, but the opportunity to tell him they support and love him. They had followed his racing and hoped to see him race again, or that they knew his family and wholeheartedly believed in his innocence, or both. As always the most unguarded faces were those of the kids waiting in line with their parents . I am not sure how many of them even know who Floyd Landis really is, or what has happened to cause him to be before them on a stage signing everything from bikes to water bottles, but somehow they did know that he was someone special they were meeting. Floyd knew who was special too, and that's those little kids with Mom and Dad in line. He without exception spent extra time relating to them, and making sure that they had their pictures taken with him. Maybe it was just the fact that they had no expectations of him, they wanted nothing from him, that caused him to give them a bit more, but it was wonderful to watch.

It was also comforting to be around so many people who understand fully the human consequences of this whole affair. I know that the science is at the absolute heart of this case, but I always always come back to the human toll caused by this abject injustice. Sometimes I feel others don't understand this, or choose not to concentrate on it. Perhaps it's because it's very painful to even try and comprehend, I am not sure. But, if you sit quietly for long enough and consider all that has beset the entire Landis family...well I surmise that honestly only the Landis family can realize the magnitude of this, I only imagine it. I suspect there were some in attendance this weekend who had experienced some of that cost first hand because they're family and they were keenly aware of that price paid already. They also know that it can never be made right, even with Floyd's complete exoneration.

I am also not ashamed to admit I've cried a lot of tears about this over the months, not that I really have a right to those tears. I also admit I cried a few more of those tears this past weekend as well, though only to myself when alone. I suppose I am just imagining again that pain felt by those directly involved, it's not really my pain at all, but I cry now and then thinking of all that has occurred since last July. I don't know what will transpire in the future for Floyd Landis, I have high hopes for his case, for that blessed science. I do know one thing for sure, no matter what happens the people who know him best and the people who also know he is innocent, know too he has never had to be exonerated in their eyes. The knowledge of that is what my weekend in Lancaster, Co. PA brought me. I also feel the faith and kindness of all of those lovely people is such that I will never forget. It was like finding buried treasure.

To see my husband Mark's pictures of the event, go here.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

With the passage of 2006 I thought that it might be time for me to actually express some things that have recently attained a little clarity for me...

Since I was very young my year has revolved around what particular sporting event was occurring. My Dad was the head of the athletic department of a small college in the town where I grew up, so watching sports has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. The year started with the NFL playoffs and the Australian Open, followed quickly by the Masters, the Triple Crown, and then the Stanley Cup playoffs -- which now oddly continue AFTER the Indy 500 is run. With summer comes Wimbledon and so on, you get the picture.

Until 1984 I had a "hole" in my summer sporting reality. That year I started paying attention to the Tour de France which was far more entertaining than the baseball All-Star borefest, and which got me through until the start of the LA Olympics. I was entranced and fascinated by all aspects of Grand Tour bicycle racing and became hooked. I come to this time of wrenching revaluation within professional road cycling honestly, and did not just jump on the "Lance bandwagon" .

Floyd Landis became a blip on my radar screen in 2003 when he rode for the USPS cycling team. I found his performance compelling in the 2004 TdF as he helped lug Lance Armstrong over the Alps. He did so on a hip that had barely healed after a devastating injury and two subsequent surgeries the winter before the tour began. Inspiring stuff.

Many of us know what has happened since that tour. Landis defected to Phonak and had a respectable first year with them, and then there was the paradoxically magical year 2006. In any circumstance, other than the one clouded by the suspicions that Floyd Landis now lives under, this year would have been spectacular. He won the Amgen Tour of California, The Tour of Georgia, Paris-Nice, and yes the Tour de France. Tiger Woods has been chosen by many as "Sportsman of the Year", I would suggest that Floyd Landis had as ground breaking a year as Tiger had, and with a compelling human interest back story to boot. Riding on a deteriorated hip (which few knew about until the mid point of the Tour de France) challenged him from the start, and the uncertainty it caused for his future in cycling may also have been his inspiration. The victory, the exultation, the positive test for t/e ratio, all came within a three day period, like a lurid mini lifetime lived out on the international media stage.

Just contemplating the triumphs and tragedies that have comprised Floyd Landis' life this year (no matter which side of the "guilty or not guilty" fence you occupy) can make you shake your head. How humans deal with this kind of saga is what drama is made of, and how this family must be endeavoring to simply maintain the normalcy of everyday life defines the term "coping skills". And yet those who have bothered to look and honestly observe have been able to watch this process closely.This is due the the public availability of Landis through interviews with him and his family, and on the Daily Peloton, an internet cycling forum and the disclosure of the documents that might damn him to an early retirement. Add to all of this hip replacement surgery in October and you now have the kind of stuff Hollywood makes up. The documents are there purposely to be scrutinized and analyzed as (inadvertently) is the person himself.

Being in the midst of this day in and day out is like watching someone lose weight slowly, you don't notice the impact of what is happening until you leave it for awhile. I have found this whole ordeal fascinating to view, and not just a bit guilt producing as well. Sometimes I think we know far too much about something and someone than can truly be justified -- some of which is surely none of the public's business. But there are some things to be gleaned from this situation that are of value.

One is that with all the talk of Landis' lost pay, prize winnings, and sponsorship money (and money lost from sponsorships to cycling in general) the human toll paid is of far greater importance. Obviously this price is one that mere observers may never really grasp. Guessing that it is of the greatest magnitude would be a sure bet, and one that no amount of money can cover.

I have also learned that no one, no matter the eventual outcome after the arbitration hearing between Landis and WADA/USADA "wins" in this debacle.

Landis has lost the reputation and respect that he worked so hard to achieve, no matter what the ruling these things are irrevocably gone. In addition he has suffered a personal loss that cannot begin to be calculated.

Cycling has lost no matter what the ruling. It has lost fans, sponsors, and has itself become the poster child for the use of PEDs in sports. The fans have also lost faith in cycling, no matter what happens in the arbitration hearing, now delayed until at least early spring, and if you go by some internet arguments that have persisted since the release of the Landis docs. civil war rages between the people who believe in Landis and those who believe that he must have enhanced his performance. Whatever the resolution to this incident, the arguments will continue for years to come.

The sports world has lost one of the finest performances ever seen in the history of Tour de France in Landis's seemingly superhuman effort on stage 17, to suspicion and doubt. Landis, of course, does not bear responsibility for these "loses" by himself, but he has unfortunately become their face.

I have learned that it's not really as entertaining as it might once have seemed to watch someone's life go down in flames.

There is nothing that many human beings crave more than "discovering" someone special and building them up out of all proportion -- until it comes to tearing them down. I guess it might be that we imagine we are seeing someone who is now more desperate than we are so it makes us feel better about our own desperation. Or we see someone who had a lot and has lost it so that makes us somehow equal.

No matter what the circumstances I will no longer feel any satisfaction over the demise of someone's reputation. Whether you think Landis is guilty or not, it has been difficult watching the pain, confusion, and sadness of a family so unprepared for what has befallen it. But even more than the apparent appetite of people to see this disgrace, I have been disheartened by the attitude of the press, and the sporting press in particular. I have read op-ed pieces, blog entries, general news articles, and articles written by professional sports reporters that had so many basic facts wrong that to call them inaccurate would be a gross understatement.

Landis has assumed a villainy comparable to that of OJ Simpson's. That he is being accused of cheating in the most prestigious bike race in the world is doubtless a serious issue, but from some of the things that have been written you'd think that murder, along with the decline of Western Civilization, have also been included in these accusations.

I've learned that hope can be addictive, and depending too much on it can be a dangerous thing. Of course hope is necessary to continue living, particularly under difficult circumstances, but hopes raised and dashed can be more damaging than the elimination of almost any other emotional nutrient.

Finally I've become aware of how grateful I am that my life is not lived under what appears to be the scrutiny of the entire world. That my everyday actions are not being examined in the manner that those of Floyd Landis, is of far more value than I ever realized. Being basically just plain anonymous has much more charm and cachet than the limelight could ever hold for me.

Should someone ask Floyd Landis, I am thinking that at this point, he too would settle for being just another face in the crowd.

Sunday, October 29, 2006