A Note from Fatty: I apologize that I must suspend Free Verse Friday today. What I want to say just isn’t that poetic. I promise Free Verse Friday will be back next week. Unless it’s not.
Hey, guess what? Today marks the beginning of my last week of my LiveStrong fundraiser. The one where you could win a dream Ibis bike — a Silk SL, a Mojo SL, a Tranny, or a Hakkalugi (your choice) — outfitted with top-of-the-line Shimano components.
And then we’ll go and do some riding on your favorite kind of ride, on your brand new kick-butt bike. Road or mountain, I’ll show you the good stuff.
As a person who has put together a few contests to raise money for good causes, I think this is one has the potential to be the most fun of any I have ever done.
A Little Serious Talk
Really, I had hoped to spend this post talking about interesting bike / ride combinations the winner of this contest might want to consider. But that’s going to have to wait ’til next Monday, because right now I want to talk about where I stand regarding the USADA allegations against Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel.
First, I’ll say this: I think of both of them as friends. More importantly, I think of both of them as good people who make a difference for good in the world.
For Lance in particular, I’ll go further and say that the thing he cares most about in the world is making a difference. For furthering the fight against cancer. It’s quite literally what he’s dedicated his life to.
Of course, Johan has a day job, so he has to squeeze his good cause work — World Bicycle Relief — into his schedule. And he does. He finds a way to raise money to improve the lives of people in Zambia with World Bicycle Relief.
Remember, The Grand Slam for Zambia — where we raised enough money to change the lives of 1152 kids — was not my idea. That was Johan. I just jumped on the bandwagon and helped, like many of you.
I think there’s secular merit to the the statement in Matthew 7:16: By their fruits you will know them. Specifically, you can tell what kind of person someone is by what they choose to do with their time and lives. The kind of people who either dedicate their lives or their spare time to making the world a better place — by fighting cancer or giving kids in distant lands a chance at a better life — are the kind of people I am proud to support, and proud to call friends.
What I Don’t Know (And You Don’t Either)
It is impossible for people like you and me to have a productive, enlightening conversation about whether Lance doped.
It really is.
For one thing, if you’ve got an opinion on the matter, by now that concrete has set. Thoroughly. It’s had plenty of time to harden, and no amount of stirring is going to soften it up.
More importantly, for every argument, there’s a counterargument. All of the arguments have been made. All of the counterarguments have been given. Even the very expensive lawyers who will now start arguing this matter will simply be clanging swords. And at the end of the process (if there ever is an end to the process), both sides will claim they are right. And depending on where things end up, you’ll either feel like justice was served, or that it was not.
But — and I think this is the most important point — either way, you (and I) don’t truly know. Just this morning, I talked with someone with an extraordinary amount of inside access to pro cycling when Lance was racing, and he said that if there was doping, he never saw it. He believes Lance is innocent, and — because of what I’ve seen and believe — I agree.
But of course, I don’t know. I can’t.
Similarly, however, those who assert — no matter how loudly, passionately, or often — that Armstrong doped don’t know, either. They can’t. They will of course argue otherwise, but remember: there are counterarguments for every argument out there.
So, when you can’t know something, and no amount of debate will get to the bottom of the matter, what can you do?
What I Do Know
I know a few things about LiveStrong. I know that it’s staffed by people who have a very personal connection to cancer, and thus a strong hatred of it, and an incredibly strong desire to help those who are battling it succeed.
I know that they do very specific things to help in the fight against cancer, and that they’re always looking for ways to do more.
I know that when I’ve made suggestions, they’ve taken these suggestions very seriously. And they don’t do this because I have a little soapbox to stand on (and I don’t fool myself into thinking that my soapbox is anything but small). If you reach out to them, I guarantee you they’ll reply, in person, and listen to what you have to say. I have never heard of an instance where someone has called or emailed LiveStrong in earnest and not received a personal reply.
I know that LiveStrong has helped me personally during Susan’s fight with cancer, and they’ve helped friends of mine.
I know, in short, that LiveStrong is a good organization, staffed by good people, doing really good things. I am proud to support them, and I’m grateful to Lance Armstrong for — instead of just going forward with his life when he had survived cancer — making the fight against cancer the central focus of his life.
(I know a few things about World Bicycle Relief, too, and I’ll be posting pretty much nonstop about it later this summer, when I’m focusing on Grand Slam 2: This Time It’s Personal.)
So if you think you can trust me, maybe you should help me raise money to help LiveStrong keep up its good work.
And you may even win a dream bike and biking trip by doing so.
Skin In The Game
I don’t raise money for LiveStrong because it’s easy or fun or for personal gain. With this contest in particular, I’ve made a point of being the person who is providing one of the major prizes. That’s going to cost me. And I don’t mind that cost at all, because I believe in what I’m doing.
That’s not the only cost I’ll incur, however.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a thick-skinned person. I’m easy to attack and insult, because I take things personally (I’ve actually asked both Lance Armstrong and Bike Snob NYC how to not let things get to me; both have essentially said the same thing: “toughten up.”).
But I’m pretty sure that a pretty vocal group of people will insult me because of what I’m writing here. I won’t respond, because it’ll just result in more and escalated insults. Plus, I’m not good at the insult comic thing. But the insults still hurt, which is a win for them I guess. (That said, at least in my comments section, insults from and to anyone will be replaced by lyrics from the “musical” “artist” of my choosing.)
I don’t like it (duh), but I’m willing to deal with it because I believe in what I’m doing and in whom I’m supporting.
Do Something Good, Still
Back in January, I wrote a post called “Do Something Good.” That’s the plea I’m going to continue to make now.
If you feel like you can donate to LiveStrong, awesome.
As for me, I’m excited to see Team Fatty at the LiveStrong Challenge in Davis next weekend, where I believe we will once again demonstrate that a bunch of friends who don’t know each other can accomplish a lot of good in the world.