No Apology Necessary

12.13.2013 | 12:47 pm

Sometimes I work through things by writing. Today is one of those times. And I’d love to have your thoughts as well. 

Maybe you’ve noticed that I don’t talk a lot about pro cycling much — if at all — anymore. As an example, check my archive for this year and see how much I wrote about the Tour de France (hint: I can’t remember writing anything at all about it). 

Part of that has to do with the fact that, to me, my own riding and racing seems a lot more interesting (and dramatic) to me lately, and I write about what interests me.

Part of it has to do with the “Once bitten, twice shy” thing.  

But even though I don’t write about it much in the blog, I do still follow it. And so, after reading an extremely well-conducted interview with Lance Armstrong yesterday, I tweeted:

To which my friend Paul Guyot replied: 

I can understand Paul’s point of view. But you know, I can’t help it. I followed Lance for a long time, got to know him (I thought) a little bit, spent a ton of my fundraising efforts on LiveStrong. So I’m still interested when he says things like this:

And that’s been the biggest issue I think, is that this hurt the support that survivors had and their friends and family had and the organization had. I know this will sound bad, but I don’t really care what the hard-core cycling geek thinks. I don’t. No offense to them. But I care about what a supporter of Livestrong thinks, and I care about what the survivor thinks. I think back to someone who was diagnosed back in 1999, and this whole story they believed in. And more than that, they fought for me, whether it’s in an online discussion or in a hallway or a workplace or café or bar, they had my back. And now they got egg on their face. That’s the thing that hurts me the most and the thing I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make up for. And I hope I can. I’m in timeout right now. And I may be in timeout forever. But I hope not to be. 

I’m pretty sure I’m one of those guys with egg on his face. I might even be one of the more prominent ones, what with Team Fatty having raised close to two million dollars for LiveStrong. But the sole interaction I’ve had with Lance Armstrong, post-Oprah, is that he’s unfollowed me on Twitter.

Which, you know, doesn’t exactly jibe with what Lance is saying above.

But here’s the thing. This past few post-Oprah months has been useful. I’ve considered a little more deeply how I want to spend my fundraising time and effort (and — much less importantly — my charitable giving). And I’ve decided I want my efforts to go to charities that help individual people, in very specific ways.

Like, for example, the way a World Bicycle Relief bicycle helps an individual child stay in school. Or the way Camp Kesem helps children compensate for the unhappiness and stress of having a parent with cancer. 

I feel like I’m now a more thoughtful — and maybe a little more careful — person. I still want to make a difference in the world, but I think I’ve got a better idea of what kind of difference. So the end result, for me, has been positive.

And I wish Lance well, too. I hope he’s able to find a path toward redemption and greater involvement with things that matter to him.

As for me, I’ve got plenty of work to do, and am grateful for those who are helping me do it.


  1. Comment by Rob L | 12.13.2013 | 1:02 pm

    Well put Fatty, now pass me a clean towel so I can get on with riding my bikes :P

  2. Comment by AKChick | 12.13.2013 | 1:06 pm

    Yes! I felt the SAME way. I can’t help it. I defintely was someone with egg on my face. I defended him. I couldn’t believe that he’d do something to his body after cancer. I’m a lot more wary now. I really want to believe in Lance again. I’m not sure why. I want him to really FEEL what he says and mean it. I want him to find redemption and I want him to get back to helping charitable organizations. He is not the only person that profited from the lies – all those sponsors and others made a pretty penny too so there is plenty of blame to throw around. I really thought Joe Lindsey did a great job, especially adding in facts in brackets. Very well done.

    I am so happy you are here so that I still have a cyclist that I can look up to and that I can be a part of this incredible family that we have going. I’m excited to see what causes you adopt and that I can help with. I’m also hoping we can still have a Fatty family cycling event next year. Rebecca’s Private Idaho?

  3. Comment by PBRMEASAP | 12.13.2013 | 1:08 pm

    Amen Brother.

  4. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 12.13.2013 | 1:12 pm

    So. When, and if Lance reaches out to you personally on behalf of LiveSTRONG, where will you lead us?

    I too appreciate the result of WBR, and Camp Kesem. There are so many charities improving the way charity is given and the results accomplished. Can one be better than the other ? Susan B. Komen vs Pedal in Pink vs LiveSTRONG vs MyLocal

    The best thing about Giving Team Fatty is the high dollar return to expense ratio. It’s a factor of pie.

    And if anyone has old bicycle equipment they want to donate please check out your local chapter of Trips for Kids: Helping at risk youth get out and ride, and earn their own bike. If you don’t have a local chapter think about it (that’s for you DougB)

  5. Comment by Jim Tolar | 12.13.2013 | 1:14 pm

    So, FatMan, does that mean the 100MtN won’t be hooked up with Livestrong this year? If so, is there another candidate partner? Planning for the 2014 100MtN (Dobson Ranch Edition) is already underway and the Executive Committee needs to know!


    For 2014, 100MoN will benefit Camp Kesem directly. – FC

  6. Comment by Jim | 12.13.2013 | 1:28 pm

    I think you need to get back to your core charitable mission, which involves enlightening the world about your disgusting dietary habits and bodily functions.

    I am ALL OVER THAT. – FC

  7. Comment by Mike | 12.13.2013 | 1:42 pm

    I have spent a lot of mental time on this same issue. I think Lance’s desire to disengage with the Velominati stems from his lack of motivation to give true answers to why he crushed the careers and lives of some of the people who stood up to him. I think he may have reached a level of arrogance that he just can’t say sorry and his guilt has killed his need for redemption.

    LiveStrong is a great organization, but if you truly want to benefit individuals, you are right in searching for another vehicle.

  8. Comment by JRay | 12.13.2013 | 1:53 pm

    Well Said.

  9. Comment by rich | 12.13.2013 | 1:56 pm

    I agree completely Fatty. I wanted to support Lance and I think that Livestrong and those they benefit, suffered from his decisions.

    Having raised quite a bit of money in the past (nothing close to your levels obviously)for Diabetes through the Tour de Cure and arthritis through CA coast classic, I’ve tried to re-focus my support to smaller more focused groups. WBR is probably the only “large” charity I still support. Everything else is going to local groups like our food bank and which provides bikes to underprivileged kids in our community.

    I do love that you give us the opportunity to do good things and that your blog (in addition to talking about your bodily functions) keeps some of these topics and groups top of mind.
    Thanks for that!

  10. Comment by ScottyCycles62 | 12.13.2013 | 1:57 pm

    Well said Fatty.

  11. Comment by esteefatty | 12.13.2013 | 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the update on LA and all. Is there a possibility that you would send me an email/private. Long time FC supporter

    You’re welcome to email me. My email address is public. – FC

  12. Comment by SteveB | 12.13.2013 | 2:06 pm

    Elden, thanks for clarifying that 100 MoN will support Camp Kesem directly. That’s good news.


  13. Comment by Ryan | 12.13.2013 | 2:07 pm

    The only person’s face with egg on it is Lance. Those that supported him did so because they were lied to by someone who was/is very good a lying.

    The only thing that is important is that the $2 million still went to the right place.

  14. Comment by rose | 12.13.2013 | 2:51 pm

    I don’t believe him for one second. He is a sociopath without a conscience. He very deliberately chose the population that caring about would make him look best. He is utterly calculated and shameless, and I wish he would go away.

  15. Comment by Mike Z | 12.13.2013 | 3:00 pm

    There’s nothing that Lance has to say that can be believed. His is a master manipulator for his own gain.

  16. Comment by Sean J | 12.13.2013 | 3:56 pm

    Spot on as usual fatty. Thanks for sharing your opinion on this as I too have egg on my face.

  17. Comment by Randy | 12.13.2013 | 3:59 pm

    I don’t think its constructive (here anyways) to pick apart some charities regarding “how great they are”, but I will say that everyone interested in helping cancer patients (actual people) should look into Swim Across America. Races raise money for local entities, no middle man like American Cancer Society or Livestrong. My entrance fee covers the cost the race, all donations from my sponsors go to the local hospital, clinic, etc for helping on the ground researchers and patients.

    Just thought I’d mention it.

  18. Comment by owen | 12.13.2013 | 4:52 pm

    well said Fatty – take the egg off the face add some avocado and move on to bigger and better things.

  19. Comment by AKChick | 12.13.2013 | 6:52 pm

    Just my two cents. I met Lance in Austin and was a guest at his house for dinner for the Austin Livestrong ride. It’s really hard to reconcile that Lance with the ugly Lance who was such a bully. For those, like Fatty, who had a personal relationship, it has to be much worse. I don’t know if I’d classify Lance as a sociopath though.

    I really feel that Lance does care about Livestrong deeply and that he does want to give back to a charitable organization. No one can deny how much good Livestrong has done for those who have battled cancer and their caregivers. Lance founded that organziation and helped populate it with the incredible staff that are there. Full disclosure, I have been a beneficiary of their services and those of their partners and it is excellent.

    Only time will tell if Lance is lying or if he is telling the truth. I am always and forever someone who wants to believe in the good in everyone – even those who have done great wrong. I can’t help it.

  20. Comment by Jase | 12.13.2013 | 9:03 pm

    Hey Fatty

    I think it is very important to give to charities for which you have good feeling, because that is what makes you a strong advocate for them, and thereby encourages more giving.
    But I take you for a thinker, a post-enlightenment renaissance man, and I reckon you’ll be able to take the views of this website on board in the manner it is intended.
    It’s a science-driven attempt to try to measure the best ways to give.
    They have no truck with “Just $1 will save a life” or similar claims. It’s thought-provoking at least.

  21. Comment by Loseitcycling | 12.13.2013 | 9:06 pm

    Fatty this has been an awesome blog post. I can only imagine…after having helped livestrong raise $2 million and the man behind the brand being what we all hoped he wasn’t is a difficult thing. I really like the direction you want to focus on, Helping specific people. Changing just one persons life with a new bicycle today can affect generations of his/her future family. I love your projects. Keep them coming!!!

  22. Comment by Jeff Bike | 12.13.2013 | 9:52 pm

    I like my eggs over easy with a side of bacon, oh some avocado would be nice too.
    I also have had egg face.
    Well said Fatty & AKChick.

  23. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 12.13.2013 | 10:06 pm

    Good post, I’m on board totally with your thinking! I try not to think about Lance – what he’s done that is good or bad, or the results of either of those. Too hard. I do agree with you though, that charitable giving as you’ve suggested is a good thing, and it is nice to be able to see results more quickly and directly. I donate to your causes every year. (Another fund raiser I’m involved in is through Concept 2 rowing; a month-long 100MoN-type deal on a rowing machine benefits a camp for pre-teen girls in Vermont centered around mountain biking; Dirt Divas. Similar idea – help one or two and it helps a community).

  24. Comment by Daddystyle | 12.14.2013 | 10:09 am

    Life’s great, we’re always learning, we keep our charity close to home although we did buy a WBR bike and some medical/school supplies this xmas.

    Money is hard earned, make it count.

  25. Comment by Al Pastor | 12.14.2013 | 11:17 am

    I gave to you and Livestrong while strongly suspecting that Lance was a doper. What I didn’t know was how he- how should I put it- encouraged many others to also dope.

    So don’t feel to bad.

  26. Comment by bob | 12.14.2013 | 11:01 pm


    The only person you have to answer to for your fund raising is you.

    By the way when can we sign up for the 14 100MoN? I had a raging lung infection this year so you got my $$$ but I couldn’t ride and I was bummed. This year I’ll be 30lbs lighter and hopefully not have walking pneumonia.

  27. Comment by buckythedonkey | 12.15.2013 | 3:34 am

    I don’t see why you can’t still raise money for LiveStrong.

    I’ve been reading David Walsh for longer than I’ve been following you, but being in the “Lance is and always was a lying cheat” camp didn’t stop me from directly supporting your fundraising for LiveStrong. I imagine that there are a lot of good people at LiveStrong. What on Earth they must be going through is anybody’s guess.

    I might be wrong, but I sometimes wondered if you were more of a fan of Armstrong that of bicycle racing and I hope that you give the latter another chance.

    If there’s any egg on your face, please wipe it off with a clean $1 bill from that unbelievable mountain of money you’ve raised over the years. Your achievement remains undiminished!


    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to make it sound like I no longer intend to raise money for LiveStrong. I think they’re doing great work. I’m in a tough position for fundraising for them right now because they just canceled the event Team Fatty has been centering its efforts around for the past few years, and so — in the absence of a plan — didn’t mention anything about them. I can see how that would appear to be thought of as a statement that I no longer plan to associate with them, but really I’m just going to focus on the organizations I have a clear idea of how to help.

    For what it’s worth, I have reached out to LiveStrong a couple of times in the past few months with an idea of how I could help them. The CEO, Doug Ulman, expressed strong interest, but staffers he handed me off to weren’t so interested and the project died on the vine. – FC

  28. Comment by DonQ | 12.15.2013 | 11:12 am

    Where I believe there to be a gap in Lance’s story/nonpology isn’t that supporters have egg on their face it’s more to do with the vociferousness with which he tried to destroy anyone who called him on his crap. You reap what you sow.

    I too didn’t believe he cheated. I didn’t believe Hamilton cheated or Levi or George or Contador but they did. Move on. Only Lance can understand his motivation for coming back but he had to know that this would open the door for scrutiny at the time.

    It’s hard too to separate the man for the organization that bears his name. It’s hard (despite the anecdotes of people they’ve helped) to take their arguments against abusing funds that have been given to them (hello gulfstream) when they attack those accusations just as lance attacked those who leveled the cheating accusations against him.

    I for one really appreciate your fundraising fatty. It’s more than just giving to cause x or organization y it’s that this community of people who appreciate what being on two wheels has done for them is doing just a small part to make the world a bit more beautiful.

  29. Comment by leroy | 12.15.2013 | 11:19 am

    I don’t regret a penny I donated to LiveStrong (much through Fat Cyclist). The good work you did in fund raising remains undiminished.

    I remain interested in what Armstrong might say, but not about doping or the multiple investigations. He has no credibility on that.

    The story that interests me is how someone makes amends, knowing that is impossible to ever do so completely. Can an outsized ego — that fueled both divine and despicable acts — rein itself in for redemption? Or put simply, can people change?

    There is no egg on your face for believing that we are capable of good and great things. Better to risk disappointment than to justify inaction by adopting cynicism as “just being realistic.” Better to be wrong and learn than to put purity paramount. I go with Twain’s suggestion from one of his better known stories: “Lead us into temptation.”

    That you still believe we are capable of great things and continue to use your blog to that end is one the things I like about you.

    I doubt that Armstrong can undo the damage he has done. But perfect redemption isn’t the point. And imperfection doesn’t excuse effort. It will be interesting to see him try.

    Seriously, I should just give you my blog. Do you want it when I retire? – FC

  30. Comment by Carl | 12.15.2013 | 7:40 pm

    Ditto what Leroy said before me. In addition to that, I am incredibly proud of being a tiny part of Team Fatty and the money we have raised. I will never forget all the emotions that ran through me at the 2009 LIVESTRONG P(h)illy right after Susan’s passing. And as a result of that ride, I have made some great friends who I sometimes still get to see, or at least be a part of their lives on facebook.

  31. Comment by Liz M. | 12.15.2013 | 8:52 pm

    Elden, you are loyal and generous and anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend, as Lance was for a few years. Your reasoning is very sound and I look forward to continuing to support Camp Kesem and WBR in the new year.

  32. Comment by BamaJim | 12.15.2013 | 9:57 pm

    Very happy to be sending a bike (well, two with the matching) to some folks in Zambia who could use them. Keep up the good work!

  33. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 12.16.2013 | 7:42 am

    Seems rather ironic that when he says his best words, Leroy fails to credit the dog.

  34. Comment by neca | 12.16.2013 | 8:07 am

    Between the witch-hunt hysteria of the governing bodies and the continual re-writing of race results (whether its the day after a stage or years after the fact), I just don’t enjoy pro cycling much anymore, or really any pro sport events. Once Jens Voigt retires, I will probably never watch again. I would much rather read about your exploits, or go enjoy my own.

  35. Comment by Stretch Armstrong | 12.16.2013 | 8:57 am

    You say some nice things here, Fatty, but I’m interested in the sentence buried in the middle of your post where you say that Lance unfollowed you on Twitter. Why do you think he did that?

    I don’t know because I haven’t talked with him. I could speculate, but I don’t feel like it right now. – FC

  36. Comment by Sylva | 12.16.2013 | 9:21 am

    I will follow wherever you go Fatty. Always thought they all doped and there was always an undercurrent that Lance was an asshole and a bully, but Livestrong added a missing piece and I was happy to contribute.

  37. Comment by rohit | 12.16.2013 | 9:52 am

    Following your blog, weight, and race results for a few years I for one am very happy to see you focus more on Fatty and the communities you live in and serve. For example, your Leadville write up this year was a masterstroke — a view of the event and the community around it that only you could provide.

    Pro Cycling is entertainment, and there are 100 (maybe 1000) journalists that cover the story. We can see the splits and gaps anywhere. and, there may never be better play by play commentators than Phil and Paul (I dare you to tell me you don’t hear their voices in your head sometimes). But it is here, and only here, that we can find have someone share an esoteric celebration like shaving ones legs as a goal acheivement celebration.

    Keep it up Fatty! No apology needed for knowing who you are and what drive you.

  38. Comment by daddyo | 12.16.2013 | 11:06 am

    my grandfather used to say about Mussolini, “at least he made the trains run on time.” I have come to believe he meant life is complex with little being completely good or bad, and that the truth is rarely pure and never simple. hero worship in retrospect seems foolishly naïve but it was fun at the time. I haven’t been a fan of Lance’s for quite some time but he did accomplish some good. it is not for me cast stones but rather learn from the experience and remain humble. your new direction about smaller more direct charity are on target in my opinion. I always enjoy your adventures as they inspire me to pursue my own. thank you for that.

  39. Comment by ScottR | 12.16.2013 | 2:08 pm

    I’m obviously very anti-doper, and would rather never hear about Lance, Levi, etc, in any racing context again.

    That said, things I think about your post:

    1. I’m not sure it is true yet, but if Lance really realizes that the rest of his life should focus on whatever is best for his foundation (his only chance to leave a positive legacy, I believe), not of himself or his career, it seems that that would be a huge step for him.

    2. I donate via your efforts because of my faith in you, frankly. Even when my concern about Lance and LiveStrong was way high (pre-official-outing), I could fall back on my faith in your direct interactions and belief in LiveStrong. Whatever else was going on, you gave the examples I was looking for to say ‘these are the things Livestrong does that are worth supporting’/'this is the impact they had on Fatty’s life’.

    (I really want to make a joke about how I could also trust your race results… but then you had to go an win Leadville, category-wise :-))

  40. Comment by Christina | 12.16.2013 | 3:53 pm

    You know what I’m glad about? Now when 100MoN comes around, I don’t have to give the awkward, “Yeah, Lance is a cheat, but LiveSTRONG does really great things!” speech. My first two years I had people donate to Team Fatty, upwards to $500, without me going to the event. Last year I punted that idea and went with WBR, which was super easy to “sell” to my friends. No Lance, no problem.

    I’d rather meet you as a fundraising reward. When I wear my jersey people always ask, “Have you ridden with him?!” Someday, random stranger. Someday.

  41. Comment by Christina | 12.16.2013 | 4:23 pm

    Good gosh. I just spent the time to read the whole interview. Joe Lindsey did an awesome job and I’m glad he didn’t back down. This interview made Lance Armstrong seem creepier than he did after Oprah and it has nothing to do with how he was interviewed. I suppose since I’ve never had a Gulfstream at my disposal, a team resting on my shoulders, or cancer I can’t understand it fully, but good gosh. That whole thing hurt to read.

  42. Comment by bob | 12.16.2013 | 8:54 pm


    What event did the LiveStrong guys cancel, the Davis ride or what?

  43. Comment by Josh | 12.17.2013 | 11:04 am

    What an interesting interview…It sounded like he was grieving the loss of his life’s work, which if true, is an incredibly shift. He obviously felt very differently about the cycling and the cancer community.

    There’s real sensitivity to the hurt of the cancer community along with real desire to get back involved, and incredibly humility about what he can and can’t do there.

    As for cycling, it sounded like he’s still in denial, as though I think he still feels like he got screwed by cycling. He thinks that if he just hadn’t come back in 2008, or hadn’t been such an A**H***, then this’d never have happened.

    The TRC is the kicker…he clearly feels like the judgement was unfair, since everyone doped, and his hope for a TRC has to be that it’d lay bare the rest of cycling’s ills, vindicating his story. There’s a certain bargaining aspect, and a sign that he hasn’t stopped fighting.

  44. Comment by Mathias | 12.22.2013 | 3:33 pm

    he unfollowed you wtf

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