Running into two old friends and one new friend that work for THAT WHICH WILL NOT BE NAMED. Here’s a hint, one of the old friends is named Graeme, and the other one is named Alex. And the new friend is called ahhhhh, weeeeelll shit, I forgot her name. But she’s cute, if that helps. Also, I can’t understand her when she talks. Speaking of which, Alex told me about how his Ukrainian House Cleaner freaks out all the time about all his cool shit like windows and refrigerators with food. I guess she like, walks around his house admiring his shit repeating “Oy Blin.” I asked him what it means. He said it’s a Ukrainian thing that roughly translates to Damn Son or Ohhhh shit.
Interviewing Ashley Gruber about bib-vest colors. I’m in white and she’s in white. So I asked her if white is the color to have and she said, ahhhh, no. She says blue is what you want but you’ve got to build. She points out this is my first Tour. Apparently you can’t just show up and get blue. And so then I asked what about Jered, what’s he got? She said he’s got green and so I said wait you didn’t even mention green before, you said white was the bottom and blue was the top. So what the fuck is green? I mean is this like paper-rock-scissors, or is it a more classic, strictly vertical scenario? She says green is like for Gods, you basically have to work for the Tour de France to get green, and green is definitely on top. In green you can just walk into airports and get on a plane, any plane, no questions asked.
Bottles of semi-cold water were readily available in the start area that was set up for anyone with credentials entering start area aka the Start Ramp in the first place. Sorry, #stickerprivilege is a bitch but it’s nice when you got it. Especially on a day like today when instead of stroking out I actually had to pee once.
Seriously, it was hot. Like borderline brutal.
I walked the better part of a marathon in a polyester tunic with a bunch of heavy camera shit swinging from my neck.
Due to heat, exertion, heavy perspiration, humidity, and probably my pH balance, I have a rash in my privacies. Which whatever, I’m going to shower obvs, but it’s worrisome on day one. On a related note, Keiran has blisters on her feet even though she wore her best most trusted sandals. On a related note to that related note, Keiran accidentally carried sneakers around in her purse today. I told her that was a thing, carrying sneakers in your purse was a thing. Old ladies do that.
Okay wow, yeah, this Tour de France thing is big, real big. It’s as big as they say, maybe bigger. Just getting to it took about an hour longer than expected. It felt like a maze, or a video game, or a video game featuring a maze. There are so many people and so many layers of access, and so few points of entry and egress that once you’re in you don’t want to leave. Also, I’ve been shooting races for five years and several times today I asked various Media Friends questions that started with how do you and what does.
But listen, even with all that said it’s still just a bike race. I think. I never actually saw it so I can’t be sure, but it starts like a bike race and finishes like a bike race so presumably it’s a bike race in-between.
Everybody I know says covering the whole race sucks. They say the volume and the logistics and the schedule beat you down and you want to die. In fact so many people tell me that, PEOPLE THAT I LIKE AND SINCERELY RESPECT, that I’ve decided to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity to cover the 2015 Tour de France. It’s like what my friend and coach Patrick Newell always says, Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). He also says, in regard to training and injuries, listen to your body then ignore your body, but that’s irrelevant. Point is, I’m going to enjoy the shit out of this bike race even though it’s in France for a whole month. To prove to you I’m Sincere & Committed I’m going to lay down some ground rules on day one, here they are:
- Don’t get arrested.
- Stay in shape. DON’T TURN INTO A PILE OF SHIT. At the Giro you ate pizza and gelato every day and you slept an average of four hours a night and you almost died. When you came home you bonked on a 45 minute ride. DON’T DO THAT AGAIN. Work out. Count calories. Be in control. Focus.
- Seriously, DON’T. GET. ARRESTED.
- Make some friends.
- Get Zen on this logistical nightmare.
- Floss, just like at home.
- Start doing interviews in foreign languages. Just write the questions out the night before using Google Translate. They’ll probably be close enough. Maybe get someone to help with pronunciation, then just dive in!!!!, to the whole peloton, for the first time!!!! Lithuanians, Czechs, Norwegians, Japanese, everybody is fair game. Manual for Speed has been English Fundamentalist for far too long.
- Dominate your surroundings.
- Be the best blogger you can be, without getting arrested.
- Population: 328,000.
- Economy: It’s a city of innovation and knowledge. Life sciences, technology and communications. Founded in 1636, the university is the most important in the Netherlands (30,000 students) and one of the most prestigious in Europe. The provence of Utrecht is the country’s richest and in 2010 it received the title of the most competitive region among the 271 in the European union.
- Culture: The Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht canals (12th century) and their quaysides, which are lined with terraces, cafes and restaurants, St. Martin’s Cathedral, (Dom, 13th century) and its tower which is 112 meters high. It was here that the treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1713, ending the war of the Spanish Succession.
- Sport: FC Utrecht (football, the Dutch first division). Events: the Jaarbeurs Utrecht Marathon, the Giro d’Italia in 2010, the Olympic Youth Festival in 2013.
- Specialties: erwtensoep (split pea soup), stamppot (potato and sausage stew), pannekoep (sugar syrup pancake).
- Sustainable development: In 2016 the world’s largest bike park will open in front of the central station and will accommodate up to 12,500 bikes.
- Mascot: Miffy, the little white rabbit that is the main character in the cartoons by Dick Bruna, who hails from Utrecht.
Today’s Castelli Unfair Advantage Addendum
A cooling vest is a piece of specially-made clothing designed to lower body temperature and make exposure to warm climates or environments more bearable. Cooling vests are used by many athletes, construction workers, and welders, as well as individuals suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, or various types of sports injuries. Cooling vests range in weight from around two to eight pounds, depending on the model. While many sub-types exist, cooling vests fall into one of 4 primary types:
- Evaporative cooling vests are typically submersed in water for around 3 – 5 minutes and lightly wrung out or blot dried. They are usually worn outside the clothing and as the water in the vest interacts with specially treated cooling crystals or other cooling agents and the water evaporates, body temperature is effectively reduced.
- Ice chilled cooling vests make use of cooling energy packs that are activated inside of a freezer and then placed in pockets inside of the cooling vest. Because they are very cold to the touch, this type of cooling vest is always worn outside the clothes.
- A phase change cooling vest makes use of cooling packs that maintain much higher temperatures. These phase-change packs often contain liquids (typically nontoxic oils and fats) that solidify (like wax) typically between 55 to 65 degrees and usually last between 4 – 6 hours.
- A cool flow cooling vest makes use of a water flow system that pumps water through the vest using hoses.
In response to our Support Our Dudes campaign, Manual for Speed received a letter from Manuel Valls and Jean-Etienne Amaury. As you know, Manuel is the prime minister of France and Jean is the president of ASO, the organizer of the Tour de France. At first we thought they were going to be upset, maybe even accuse us of nationalism and xenophobia, but to our surprise they wanted to work with us to bolster the Tour de France’s brand image in America through a series of Public Service Announcements. We said of course, we love PSAs. Then we asked them what they wanted, they said they wanted us to simply convey an appreciation for those unique qualities intrinsic to the TDF. And they said be funny, we love funny, they said the Support Our Dudes things was wonderful, they said Jerry Lewis himself couldn’t have done better, they said do it like that. And so without further adieu, we present Thanks, France! a Manual for Speed and Rendezvous en France partnership.
10:00 AM: Wake up next to a lake in Vinkeveen.
11:00 AM: Leave Vinkeveen, merge onto the E35/A2 north and westbound in the direction of Utrecht.
11:05 AM: Hit heavy traffic.
12:15 AM: Arrive in Utrecht (40 minutes behind schedule), attempt several different ways to get to Press Parking, negotiate with Polite and Volunteers, finally breakthrough like a sperm.
2:00 PM: Race starts. Walk around. FOR HOURS. Our day basically consists of three areas: the race area, the train station (in the middle), and the city centre with the disgusting canals in which, rumor has it, desperate and overheated teenagers were swimming.
5:15 PM: The Race ended.