A group of Old French Men huddled around a transistor radio listening to the song “Flashdance.”
I got to my spot on the cobbles about an hour before the race was scheduled to come past. There were already several photographers in position on the inside and outside of the 90 degree turn that was the obvious focal point of this entire section of cobblestones. Every couple of minutes a new photographer would show-up, chose a spot, and stake it out. This is super common, this time-lapse-like filling in of photographers along the edge of the course. Anyway, with about five minutes to go these two dudes walked up to where I was and stood directly in front of me. They knew the photographer next to me, so they all started talking. The natives behind me were already getting pretty anxious, and now these two dudes were in front of me, and the pre-caravan had already come past, and the helicopter was just over the hill, and so the atmosphere was tense. Then I noticed that one of the dudes in front of me was staring at my badge, the one on the end of my lanyard, resting on my bib. Anyway, he takes his phone out and types something into a browser search bar. I can’t be sure but I’m about 69% certain he typed manualforspeed into the search field. It was taking forever to load and the race was close so he finally just turned his phone off and got into position, which in the end was just off to the side of where I was. I think they were Welsh or Irish. Anyway, I can’t be certain, but I like the idea of some dude walking into a territorial situation like that, and doing some like on-the-spot math in an effort to determine who deserved the access more, the guy who was there first, or the guy who was more important. Whatever that means.
While walking the course this afternoon a dude ran up to me and shouted SIXTY-NINE!!! When I stared blankly back at him he pointed to my chest. Apparently my bib-vest number is 169, and the 1 was covered by my lanyard. The way I see it, this bro forced one of the lamest sexual references on me AND reminded me that I’m wearing a fucking lanyard and a bib at the same time.
My new Nike Flyknits are HELLA DUSTY. And while I really like our fake-clandestine sponsorship, I want to go legit.
“Je dois arriver au sommet!!!!!!”
(I need to get to the top!!!!!!)
- 'Chase the potato.'
- 'Do they have the legs?'
- 'Hanging on the back like a rubberband.'
- 'In the depths of the handlebars.'
- 'Paris is not far.'
- 'The Tour waits for no one.'
- 'The Tour de France.'
- 'Oh Fuk' (It should be noted that this is an outtake, but the phrase is probably useful regardless.)
- 10:15 AM: Wake up after a little more than four hours of sleep.
- 11:15 AM: Drive to the start in Seraing.
- 12:00 PM: Photograph the start.
- 12:30 PM: Get lost in Seraing, but don’t care because Operation Think Small means we have time.
- 1:00 PM: Drive to Saint Python
- 5:00 PM: Photograph the race.
Nothing protects you from the elements like clothing designed to protect you from the elements. For example: today I brought a pink cotton hand towel to a Rain Storm Fight. I got lucky. This time. But shit could have gotten out of control pretty quickly. I mean it, nothing works to keep rain off your body like clothing made out of waterproof/resistant materials because clothing is designed for bodies and waterproof materials are designed to be waterproof—that’s why it’s called waterproof. Trees can work in a pinch but they’re not designed to fit on your body. Hiding under a car is all fine and dandy until it rains so hard the streets start flooding, and/or the owner of your hiding place needs to borrow it for a moment to pick up the girls from soccer practice. Holes dug into the earth can work, but not well. And sure, denim does fine at first. But I’m telling you, mass-produced rain jackets make so much sense I have like twelve of them. From ponchos to packables, from waterproof to water resistant, from Hobo-Tech (featured above) to Gore-Tex 9-Layer Nano LazerLayerTek 17,000,000,000 (trillion) Durable Water Repellency Ultra Inverted Cup Test Power, I own and regularly employ a substantial number of rain clothing solutions for meteorological-based problems both general and specific. That gives me an #UnfairAdvantage. Unless I leave all of it in the trunk of my rental car. #neitherherenorthere
- 1 Kid Cudi & MGMT & Ratatat Pursuit of Happiness (Steve Aoki Remix)
- 2 Sia Electric Heart
- 3 Rihanna feat. Drake What's My Name
- 4 Selah Sue Alone
- 5 David Gueatta feat. Nicki Minaj Hey Mama
- 6 Bigflo & Oli Comme d'Hab
- 7 Tez Cadey Seve
- 8 Francis Cabrel Encore et Encore
- 9 Dj Snake & AlunaGeorge You Know You Like It
- 10 Nekfeu On Verra
The weekend that my wife and I moved into the house that we currently own the floor in the master bathroom collapsed, nearly sending the toilet crashing down into the garage (and our cars) below. Apparently, the house had been vacant for so long that a slow ongoing leak had rotted out the entire bathroom subfloor. All it took was me walking into the bathroom a few times for the whole thing to give way. And once that happened, I spent the following days trying to lift a toilet through pounds of soggy drywall and plywood (as sewage-y water fell on my head), while learning how to fix the damaged support beams and plumbing. During a Monday morning meeting at work after that weekend, I relayed the story as my way of explaining my exhaustion that morning. There was a brief pause, followed by the inevitable. “The joys of home ownership, huh?”, said the guy who was way too young to have an un-ironic mustache. His comment was followed by maddening laughs. It was then and there that I realized how much I detest Stock Phrases, ones that range from shallow to pseudo-ironic truisms. Things like “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that gets you” (or its evil counterpart, preferred by those in the Southwest: “…it’s a dry heat”). Then there’s, “Location, location, location!!!!”, “Only in New York!”, along with the enviable sense of certainty that backs up statements like, “In this city there are two seasons: winter and construction”. They all make my blood boil in the most boilingy way possible.
Based on what I just told you, it should come as no surprise that listening to commentators at the Tour de France can be a maddening ordeal for me. Especially in the first week, when all you hear is how a rider “May not win the race during a first week like this, but he sure can lose it.” Of course that’s true. Just as it’s true that it IS in fact the humidity that gets you. Believe me, I lived in Miami for a while, I know. But that doesn’t make it okay to repeat phrases like that six thousand times. Which is why I hope no rider loses the Tour during this first week, and perhaps one may win it instead. Just to prove these idiots wrong.
Sure, Quintana lost time on stage 2, but he hasn’t lost the Tour as a result. He hung in with the main group on Stage 4 despite the cobbles, and the riders who had to retire due to crashes on Stage 3 were not really destined for GC greatness anyway. Okay, Thibaut Pinot’s mechanical might not have happened in a non-cobbled stage… but really it was his unwillingness to ride a bike from a rider one inch taller than him that cost him time on Stage 4. That could have happened anytime, anywhere.
Yes, there’s still a good bit of racing to be done in this first week, but all I can tell you is that I’ll be sitting here, praying to the Cycling Gods above that this most annoying of cycling truisms doesn’t come true this time around. And if it does, all I can say to any team owner out there who suffers as a result is… “Ah…the joys of cycling team ownership.”
Facts according to the Tour de France’s PARTEGEONS LA PASSION
- Prefecture of Pas-de-Calais
- 42,000 inhabitants.
- Economy: food processing research, agro-food and logistics companies. Häagen Dasz factory, Caterpillar, a branch of the University of Artois.
- Culture: belfry, Arras citadel, towers of the Abbey of Saint-Éloi, International Memorial and National Necropolis of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Carrière Wellington (site reconstructing the Battle of Arras in the First World War), Museum of Fine Arts, Cite Nature. Festivals: Main Square Festival (rock’n’roll), Arras Film Festival (Festival of European Film), Faites de la Chanson (festival of French song), Histoires et Rêve d’Artois (son et lumière).
- Sport: Arras Pays d’Artois (basketball, Women’s Leage), Arras Women’s Football Club (Division 1), Racing Club (athletics, first division), ASL Canoieing and Kayaking, jousting.
- Specialties: Arras sausage, Coeur d’Arras (cheese), Bleu d’Arras (painting on porcelain).
- Sustainable Development: 40km of bike paths, self-service bikes for students, Ma Citadine (free city centre shuttle), Trame verte et bleue de l’Arrageois (transformation of tow-paths into walking trails).
- Distinctions: Its belfry and citadel are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, city of art and history, four star floral city.