Free Verse Friday: The Tragedy of the Empty Podium

08.24.2012 | 6:00 am

Some are born for greatness
To strike a heroic pose
And hold bouquets of roses
While being crowned with glory
And being draped with medals
And looking all important and stuff

I am not one of those people
Nor, with all due respect
Is The Hammer
Whatever we’ve got
In speed, in endurance
We’ve paid for
Fair and square

Perhaps that is why
We are both
Only rare visitors
To the podium
And certainly never
No, not ever!
The ones who would stand atop
The Podium in a large race

Except this once!
Except this once!
Except this once!
When, at the Leadville 100
In the year
Two thousand and twelve
I was the fastest singlespeeder
And she was the third fastest woman
Between the ages of forty
And forty-nine.

And this is where the irony becomes rich
So thick indeed that it is hard to swallow
For this one time
Probably the only time
Where we would both be on the podium
At a race we faithfully attend
Each and every year

We would not be at the ceremony

For at the selfsame moment the awards
would be awarded
The Hammer and I
Would be racing-in-irony-quotes
In the first stage
Of the Breck Epic

Too tired to push it
And, in my case
So sore in one leg
t’was a major effort to pedal at all

So we would not see our finishers’ sweatshirts
Nor our belt buckles
Nor our trophies
Which look suspiciously like pie pans
Not for weeks
Or at least a week and a half
And we would not stand in front of the crowd
Taking in the deserved adulation

But still
Driving to Breckenridge
Tired, so tired
And mayhaps a bit nauseous
We could not stop laughing
And sharing
And telling
And recounting
And whatnot

We had done it
Somehow, not so much training
As just riding a lot
We had done it
We were the fast guys

And it occurs to me that
It doesn’t matter
Whether you actually stand
On the podium
So much as that
You earned the right to.

Thank you.



  1. Comment by Rob L | 08.24.2012 | 6:50 am

    Ever eat from those?

  2. Comment by Brian in VA | 08.24.2012 | 7:16 am

    I’ll never stand atop a podium
    For my cycling adventure began
    So late in life that now
    I ride only for the sheer joy.

    The joy of riding with the wind
    The joy of riding down a long hill
    The joy of riding solo
    The joy of riding with others

    The joy of suffering when you need to
    Or want to
    Or have to.

    Of course, if I live to be 100
    I may get to the podium
    Through survival.
    Does that count?

    Thank you

    Counts double. – FC

  3. Comment by daddystle | 08.24.2012 | 7:30 am

    You/we and otheres ride for the right reasons. It’s all about the 2 wheeled love, I don’t care what you ride, if you race, or if you place. Just ride, to the store, to a friends, at the track or see the world, just ride.

  4. Comment by roan | 08.24.2012 | 7:35 am

    At free verse I suck
    So I’ll just assume
    You passed the post ride tests
    Thoughts forbid
    What would happen
    If you actually trained for real(not pies)
    Imagine all the fingers
    Pointing your direction
    A Fatcyclist Team
    Blew away the competition.

    Thank you

    luv you guys,
    awesome picture of The Hammer at the finish needs to be framed for your family Hall of Fame.

  5. Comment by mykill | 08.24.2012 | 7:57 am

    Could victory taste any sweeter
    Than a sweet potato pie
    Baked in a Leadville pie plate?

    If so, i would like a taste
    But, no, i do not race
    At least i haven’t yet
    Davis riders may remember the beast
    That carried me not quite a century

    But this week that has changed!
    I found what i was looking months for!
    Used on craigslist upgrades galore!
    And a very reasonable price
    Well below others comparable

    She’s only two years old
    With nary a scratch
    Decent rims and tires that match
    And already had pedals that go with my cleats

    Fatty wrote about soulmates
    Not too long ago when he found his
    Now i too i have found a true love
    That fits perfectly, just like a glove
    She’s perfect! I daren’t change a single thing!

    Except one, but i blame myself.

    I did need to swap the stem
    For a 56cm frame fits nicely my 32″ inseam
    But my arms have the reach
    of a T-rex.

    Thank you and congrats to Team Fatty!

  6. Comment by pedalpink | 08.24.2012 | 8:56 am

    Tragedy of the Empty Podium – I thought you were referring to the Tour de France after the USADA strips Lance’s titles. Let’s look at the worthiness of the 2nd place finishers:

    > 1999: Alex Zulle, who admitted to taking EPO as part of the Festina affair. On 28 November 1998, Zülle’s haematocrit was found to be 52.3%, 2.3% over the limit.
    > 2000, 2001, 2003: Jan Ullrich was found guilty of a doping offence by the CAS. He was retroactively banned from August 22, 2011, and all results gained since May 2005 were also removed from his Palmares.
    > 2002: Joseba Beloki was among those implicated in Operación Puerto and was withdrawn from the 2006 Tour de France.
    > 2004: Andreas Kloden. In 2009 allegations emerged claiming that Andreas Klöden used the Freiburg University Clinic for an illegal blood transfusion during the 2006 Tour de France.
    > 2005: Ivan Basso. In 2007 he admitted he was planning to use doping and was suspended for two years.

    Anyone want to continue this game with the third place finishers 1999-2005?

    Ah, but the empty podium was at Leadville. Congratulations to the Nelson family and friends for a fantastic showing in 2012. And those awards do look like pie pans!

    I wrote this post last Wednesday — I’m really busy lately and have been getting in front of my post dates by a couple so my blog doesn’t just sit during the days I don’t have time to write. But when I saw the news yesterday, I immediately saw how the title could take on a new meaning. I’m currently deciding how I’ll handle all this, writing-wise. – FC

  7. Comment by Jesse | 08.24.2012 | 9:12 am

    “Which look suspiciously like pie pans”

    You just made my morning. Perhaps my entire weekend. I’m glad my office is empty right now, because I’m laughing like a lunatic. Congrats on the podium to both of you!

  8. Comment by ChinookPass | 08.24.2012 | 9:23 am

    mmmm pie
    make mine cherry
    congrats Fatty and Hammer

  9. Comment by Jeff Bike | 08.24.2012 | 9:25 am

    If your man enough to earn those belt buckles than you must get a western belt, jeans and boots so you can ware it with pride.

    I believe you are right. I shall commence shopping. – FC

  10. Comment by leroy | 08.24.2012 | 9:26 am

    Any trophy from which you can serve pie is genius.

    Much more useful than that Stanley Cup.


  11. Comment by Sean | 08.24.2012 | 10:33 am

    I can understand the different size belt buckles, but why the different size pie tins? And, why the different size medallions in the tins? Or, is that an optical illusion?

    Congrats, they are well deserved.

    The pie tins are different sizes cuz I took 1st in my div, while The Hammer took 3rd in hers. I had the exact same question about medallion size, though and it IS in fact an optical illusion! The medallions are the same size. – FC

  12. Comment by eclecticdeb | 08.24.2012 | 11:03 am

    I triple-dog-dare-you to make pie in one of those trophys. :-)

    @Sean, perhaps the diff in size has to do with the 1st place for Fatty, and 3rd place for The Hammer? Just guessing….

  13. Comment by bikemike | 08.24.2012 | 11:09 am

    I went to the mailbox
    The training was in place
    I felt strong
    I did not wear shoes
    There was no need
    It wasn’t far
    The wind was cross
    I felt strong
    Packages obtained
    Destination on the near horizon
    I was near the end
    The garage door was beckoning
    The fire ants
    They burn.

  14. Comment by Pat in Westminster Co | 08.24.2012 | 11:59 am

    This is from a Free Verse show I saw a while back.

    Roses are red
    Violets are Blue
    I find it hard to rhyme

    BACON !!!

    and he won.

  15. Comment by mk | 08.24.2012 | 12:49 pm

    great stuff. but as a big big fan of the late
    great d.f. wallace, I gotta point out that
    you probably mean to say “nauseated” and not
    “nauseous”. (…unless you really were giving
    each other nausea, which I doubt given how fun
    these stories are to read!)

    I very nearly went to the web to look up whether I was using the right word, but then didn’t, due to HEY LOOK A SHINY NEW QUARTER. – FC

  16. Comment by Irnldy | 08.24.2012 | 1:09 pm

    You and I had a respectful disagreement re: LA a while back. No sniping, no ugliness. I always appreciate that form of disagreement. I am going to be honest with you, today’s announcements from both LA and from USADA still shook me to the core, despite what I already believed to have been true about him. I am sorry for everyone in this situation, not smug. I am sorry for the years when I did believe in him, where he was the greatest hero I could have imagined, where watching him attack with Roberto Heras in the mountains looked like the most magnificent thing anyone could do. I DID believe, until I didn’t. And I guess a tiny part of me must still have had something in me for him, until today, because I surprisingly find myself feeling crushed by the news.
    I know you will do it some diplomatic justice, but I cannot. I will however hail you and The Hammer as the cleanest riders at Leadville this year! (unless donuts were a banned substance this year, were they?)

  17. Comment by Jolene | 08.24.2012 | 1:41 pm

    Congrats to you both on fantastic races!

  18. Comment by D. | 08.24.2012 | 2:16 pm

    Hi there! I’m trolling! Pay attention to me!

  19. Comment by Z | 08.24.2012 | 2:35 pm

    Hi there! I’m trolling!

  20. Comment by Team Coffee Nook | 08.24.2012 | 3:05 pm

    Hey look a shiney new quarter!
    What better way to forget your thoughts
    Except perhaps
    Hey look a squirrel!
    Thank you

  21. Comment by Mark | 08.24.2012 | 3:30 pm

    Congrats to all of you!
    Cook up some great “well done” pie
    in your trophies.
    But don’t lose them because
    you can still find gold when
    your LT100 gold mining
    days are done.

  22. Comment by Fuzz Martin | 08.24.2012 | 3:37 pm

    Say it ain’t so, Lance
    Say it ain’t so
    I don’t want to harp
    On one of my heroes
    Because I believe in his work
    “Raising awareness”
    Also raises spirits
    And hope
    Where hope is a precious
    limited resource

    I’m sad
    That his name was dragged
    Over the cobblestones
    And through the mud
    To make a point.
    You got your man, Elliott Ness
    Where do we go from here?

    That said,
    Dopers suck
    So does losing a hero

    On a brighter note
    It’s Friday
    And I live in Wisconsin
    Beer time.

    Thank you.

  23. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 08.24.2012 | 6:20 pm

    Great job at Leadville Fatty! You’ve been “panning” for that gold for lots of years – you deserve it!

    And like Fatty Tweeted, the whole Lance Armstrong thing is a witch hunt, and they (USADA) would have burned their witch – with or without actual proof.

  24. Comment by Michael | 08.24.2012 | 7:07 pm

    Cool hardware. Makes me want to race Leadville … for the small buckle, anyway.

    I have 13 of the small buckle, only 2 of the big ones. Racing for the small one has been plenty for me for almost the entirety of my racing life. – FC

  25. Comment by roan | 08.24.2012 | 7:51 pm

    I will admit,
    A shiny new quarter,
    I will pass.
    A shiny socket new or old,
    Will grab ahold.
    Tis a world record,
    In my box
    Though few that match.

    Squirrels, are nutty
    Nearly nailed this week
    My sharp CREEE
    Froze it in its tracks,
    Just enough for me to pass.

  26. Comment by T Foster | 08.24.2012 | 8:14 pm

    Congratulations to you, the Hammer and IT guy. I don’t know which to admire most.

    The Hammer, then The IT Guy. I recommend against admiring me at all; my head is already dangerously swollen. – FC

  27. Comment by JRay | 08.24.2012 | 8:20 pm

    At the hotter n hell hundred
    The expo is packed
    Bright n early tomorrow morning
    I will track
    A hundred gravy miles over the states worst Tarmac
    To stay upright the first ten miles
    That is the biggest challeng
    10,000+ others in the same stack.
    Weather look strange for this typical epic.
    Last years 109 deg record will be a brisk high of only 92.
    Hey.. If it’s not hotter n hell do I get my money back. Hmm? Yeah prolly not.
    Thank you.

    Oh. N thank you Lance for the work you STILL do for people in the middle of the fight of their lives. Still a hero. Nuff said.

  28. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.25.2012 | 9:05 am

    pie? did you say pie?

  29. Comment by Debi | 08.25.2012 | 9:48 am

    Congratulations Fatty and Hammer. You definitely earned it!

  30. Comment by Mamasue123 | 08.25.2012 | 4:19 pm

    I believe you have it all figured out…. It’s the journey that keeps you going, a million stories for one race, one season. Bling is nice but stories(embellished or not) and memories are the real keepers… Um unless it’s a pie plate…ummm pie…. What was I talking about??

  31. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 08.25.2012 | 4:51 pm

    To Skippy:

    I’m from La Crosse, Wisconsin; the home of what used to be G. Heileman Brewing.  At the time Mr. Bond acquired control of the brewery and its subsidiaries on the strength of bonds that turned out to be able as valuable as empty PowerGel packets it was the fourth largest brewer in the US.  By the time Mr. Bond got done with it the subsidiaries had been divested and the brewery itself had been sold to Strohs, who went out of business themselves a few year later.  The Heileman name and its labels were sold off at rummage-sale prices to a company that doesn’t even own a brewery but instead hires others to brew the beer for them and then just slap the label on the bottle. In short, he took a company that had been a going concern in the same location since 1858 and pretty well ran it into the ground in the short space of less than ten years.

    Now, Bond may have been responsible in large part for bringing the America’s Cup to Oz; he may love his mother, kiss babies, and provide food and shelter to to stray dogs; and he may possibly be the best-known Australian after Paul Hogan, but he will always be [i]persona non grata[/i] here in western Wisconsin.

  32. Comment by Susie H | 08.26.2012 | 5:27 pm

    I must admit
    the awesomeness
    overwhelms me.

    Thank you.

  33. Comment by Cali_Lady | 08.26.2012 | 9:43 pm

    Congrats to the IT guy, The Hammer, and Fatty!! Great racing!


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