First of all, after three hours of sleep I woke up in a high rise apartment building next to the St. Etienne Center for Losers. This is my sixth day in a row averaging a little over three hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation is pretty interesting stuff; at its best it’s a more readily available, cheaper and semi-legal alternative to PCP, the make-you-get-naked-and-throw-live-alligators-at-strangers-and-police-in-spite-of-a-life-threatening-self-inflicted-gunshot-wound-to-your-groin drug. At its worst it sits on your face with its fat, sweaty butt and does slow hot wet farts into your eyes for hours on end until you finally pass out under a pizza box and a laptop throbbing with heat pressed into your cheek, in spite of the midnight motorcycle racing, domestic violence and Moroccan karaoke happening on the second floor of Hotel Le Paletines. It took a long time to locate my sock. All I wanted was my sock so I could put it on my foot and take command of the day and my destiny, a destiny that was immediately occupied by finding, then consuming, yet another disappointing but technically caffeinated coffee. I was certain, at the time, the key to everything was locating that fucking sock. So I tried, let me tell you I tried. I sat on the edge of my bed scanning the horizon for hours, or minutes, who knows?, I feel asleep and got yelled at. Point is, eventually I found the sock. It was under my shoes, go figure.
Let me tell you about my suitcase: it has four wheels. Not two because two-wheeled suitcases are for homeless people and the Pennsylvania Dutch. Four-wheelers make everything better. Spinning, stopping, cornering, pausing, storing, escalating, elevating, long walking, cab riding, all of it, it’s all better with four wheels. Really, I mean it, this puppy does everything. I just got it, it’s blue, it was on sale at Macy’s in the Lloyd Center Mall in Portland, Oregon. It’s a Samsonite. There’s nothing this number can’t do. Except fucking pack itself. So every morning FOR SIX DAYS IN A ROW I have had to pack it, an act that is exactly as fun as it sounds. Maybe more. This morning was certainly no exception. I’ve got a system so it all goes pretty quickly and reliably at this point:
Daniel Wakefield Pasley’s Official MFS Stage Race Packing Procedure
- Find sock.
- Wear as much from the day before as is possible and/or reasonable.
- Otherwise, dirty clothes go into a laundry bag.
- Locate toothbrush and pack it in the bag before bag is already packed because otherwise unpacking and repacking is required. Which, when you’re just getting to know your new bag and you are putting it through its paces and you like hearing the sound of a brand new #12 YKK metal zipper in action, is super enjoyable, but later, when you’re in the field and trying to get down to Petite Deranger with enough time to learn the coffee dispenser and before the PACs are all gone, it’s a hassle.
- Harvest chargers and adapters from around the perimeter of the room. Sometimes this requires crawling around on the floor under desks and tables and shit, and catfish noodling between headboards and chez lounges—especially in Europe where many of the various buildings now serving as hotels in the 21st century started out as Roman barracks or walrus hunting encampments or whatever before electricity and wires were invented. Sometimes outlets are like, in the ceiling, or located on the outside of the building and are accessible only through a window.
- Pick up change or kick change under the bed on a case by case basis. Use your best judgement.
- Put puffy down jacket on last because otherwise you get sweaty.
On the way to the start we passed by a PAUL so we turned around immediately and parked on the sidewalk. That took about twenty, maybe thirty minutes because when Europe made all their roads in the Middle Ages the right-angle wasn’t invented yet. It’s not their fault #cuttingedge #bleedingedge #earlyadopter. We ordered four double espressos avec lait chode, five pain aux chocolat, one cream of chicken soup sandwich and a #casualbaguette. We got everything we ordered except for one coffee because in France you can only order one drink per person. I think it’s the law. You can say something like, “The fourth coffee is for my friend who has agoraphobia so he’s waiting in the car,” and they will say, “Yes,” but in the end they won’t make or sell you that fourth coffee.“Bottom line, if you have agoraphobia you probably shouldn't come to France.”MFS
The start was exceptionally bright due to direct sunlight, World War II and the reflective nature of bike race equipment/costumes/paraphernalia. Near the sign-in we ran into Alex Howes and Ben King. We asked Alex how he was doing and he said come see come saw11comme ci comme ça, a French expression that means, “I wish the coffee here was better.” Speaking of which, we got to talking about coffee with Alex. He said, “Why don’t you pack your own coffee making operation?” We said, “That would be too much, as it is we have too much equipment and too many processes that are a part of our process.” Then we asked him what his move was and he said, “The Pour Over Method.’ Then we said, “That sounds rad, we should photograph that and do a whole Photo Essay on how Alex Howes handles his coffee.” And he said “Yeah, sure, but it’s the Pour Over Method, haven’t you already done something like that, and isn’t the Pour Over Method pretty standard?” And I said “Oh yeah, listen let me tell you about the time two hours ago when I fell asleep looking for my sock.” Then we talked to Ben King about how he’s not an asshole22This conversation was about what the Belgians call ‘Flickability’.. Which long term, like in terms of life and humanity and mankind, is awesome for Ben King and everyone around Ben King. But in the short term it has consequences. Not insurmountable. Nothing he can’t handle. It’s just something to be aware of. Then we talked about baguettes and the missing middle age citizens of France.
About twenty minutes before the start of the race we drove to the top of the first climb where it was dark and wooded and there was snow on the ground. We left immediately on account of it was dark and wooded and there was snow on the ground, opting instead to take photos on the sun-lit descent in a banked corner next to a pastoral chateau in which four French hillbillies and two barking Rottweilers lived. Raoul set a GoPro mounted to a miniature 8” tripod on the ground in the inside corner and walked over to the outside corner where he sat down and took Polaroids. Ian climbed into a ditch on the outside corner. Keiran walked up the hill past the corner. I sat in the dirt next to some grass and part of an old fence on the inside corner and threw rocks at Raoul’s GoPro camera.
First the break. Then about three minutes later the peloton came past. Then the caravan. Then we drove down the hill behind the race and played some Would This Have Been A Better Spot? At the bottom of the hill we got onto the A7 and stopped almost immediately at Aire De Forêt Pour Secousses for petrol, which means gasoline in French. Ian tried to use all of his credit cards but none of them worked until we tried mine, which worked. Before leaving we also played a round of What’s A Macchiato Like From This Machine? and purchased a bag of Prawn-flavored potato chips.“About forty minutes later, shortly after crossing the Rhone River, we got stuck behind an old lady and missed the race.”MFS
So we got back on the freeway and did enough speeding to get in front of the race once again. At some point somewhere we exited the A7, drove up a hill, parked in front of a food cart and photographed the race when it passed. And picked up a tick which I found crawling around my leg on the way to Nice. The worst part about the tick was all the thinking it required. I had to kill it. But how? They’re gross so I didn’t want to eat it, which was naturally my first impulse, and I forgot that I could just throw it out the window, but that would be littering with like a biological weapon anyway. After thinking about it for about thirty seconds I put it in the leftover coffee swirling around the bottom of one of the thirteen coffee cups I found within reach of the front seat. Ian said that the coffee probably wouldn’t kill it because you can’t drown a tick. To which I said but it’s an animal and don’t all animals need oxygen? Also, it IS an animal right? Or is an insect different than an animal? Do insects need oxygen? Wait, do all animals need oxygen or not? Like is that one of the rules or not? Does being animate require oxygen consumption, or vice versa? And so then I had to Google all this biology shit on the Bouygues 3G network, a network that I’ve been pounding pretty hard for the last five days, which pounding is the reason why AT&T has been texting me alerts and warnings about how I’ve used the all the data my Global Passport Plan allows for already, and that now doing ectoparasite (external parasite) research, in the process of which research I discovered that yeah, Rocky Mountain Fever Ticks and Deer Ticks and Lyme Ticks are all bad but Australia has this one that paralyzes you of course, will cost me fifteen cents per megabyte33To help MFS cover it’s yearly budget of European Cell Phone Overages, please visit the shop. or whatever.
It took three hours to get to Nice. On the way we passed Mt. Ventoux which we couldn’t see because it was hazy and the mountain is tan anyway. In Nice, I spilled chocolat glace on my Flyknits and witnessed a young man wearing a leather backwards-facing baseball cap and diamond-studded chain wallet pushing a baby stroller with a toddler in it across the street.“Because Nice is a lot like Las Vegas, if Las Vegas was on the Mediterranean Sea.”MFS
Stage 3 from Saint-Amand-Montrond to Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule started with Michał Kwiatkowski (whose last name means “flower”) still holding a small lead in the general classification. But with a stage finish that clearly favored the kind of sprinter who can take something other than a perfectly flat, straight run-in, the Polish rider was bound to loose his lead. And of course, he did. Orica-Green Edge delivered Michael Matthews to the last 500 meters, leaving him to take the stage and the overall classification due to the time bonus he earned.
Determined to try to hold on to the jersey, or at least do it justice, Matthews started the last climb of Stage 4 with the main group, but faded quickly into the 10-kilometer climb, as Team Sky upped44KLAUS’ ORIGINAL TEXT: Sky upped the pace significantly. You could even say that the pace was ‘sky high.’ I mean, you could, but we won’t, because that’s a bit lame. In the end, Sky scored a one-two, with Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas. But the gap back to Michał Kwiatkowski was not enough, and the Polish rider took the leader’s jersey, sitting one second ahead of Porte. the pace significantly. In the end, Sky scored a one-two, with Richie Porte and Gerraint Thomas finishing ahead of the field. But the gap back to Michał Kwiatkowski was not enough and the Polish rider took the leader’s jersey, sitting one second ahead of Porte.
After a taste of nearly-exciting racing, Paris–Nice went back to yet another rather straightforward route for stage 5. Andrew Talansky joined the break after the day’s first climb, but was picked up by a charging peloton. So were Thomas De Gendt and Egor Silin, who hung on until the last kilometer. It was then Bryan Coquard’s turn to take things up, with the Frenchman charging way too hard and for way too long toward the finish line, inadvertently delivering Davide Cimolai (who has start tattoos on his arm that any teenage emo girl would be proud of) to the line. The stage had absolutely no effect on the general classification (at least the end of it that matters), leaving Michał Kwiatkowski to enjoy yet another day in yellow.