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.

5 comments:

daniel m (a/k/a Rant) said...

strbuk,

Excellent post. We need more stories that speak to the humanity of Floyd's situation, so that people don't forget that it's not just about metabolites and numbers and such, it's about a real person's life and how it affects him, his family, their friends and all of those people who care about him.

- Rant

Cal said...

Paula,

Wow. It is always great to read what a person writes from his/her heart. It was an honor to meet you and spend time with you and Mark. It was truly an incredible weekend. Let's do it again to celebrate Floyd's exoneration. If that happens, it will be a quiet party, but a party none the less.

Peace,
Cal

hughw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi strbuk,

That was beautiful! I don't even mind it made me choke up here at the office. :)

I haven't written to you directly since I stopped visiting the DPF back in January - too many people there drove me nuts. But I've thought about you when I click onto TBV. Great job! And the work all of you are doing during the Hearing is just fantastic!

I am trying to stay hopeful about the Panel's decision & of course, if it was up to me, Floyd would already be back in the peloton.

I've been meaning to tell you I am so glad you visited Sara's - we're quite a chatty group! And all of us are HUGE Floyd supporters! Keep coming back whenever you have the time.

susie b

janann said...

Paula -
That is a lovely post! The human side of the story is what drew me in to begin with. Thanks for posting the link for us at SBs. I'm also still hopeful for Floyd's future and cheering him on, hoping to see him on his bike again! Thanks much for all of your hard work at TBV - we greatly appreciate it!