I think I’m over the high-speed cannonball-run honeymoon tour of France. Castles, Priories and Palaces really are wonderful but they’re also remarkably tedious. At this pace and in these conditions,you know what I want?, I want a basic-as-fuck Best Western. The kind with paved parking lots and stairways built to code (not like this). You think they had building codes in the Middle Ages? No, they had chivalry and here’s what chivalry gets you:
- Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.
- Thou shalt defend the Church.
- Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
- Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.
- Thou shalt not recoil before the enemy.
- Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.
- Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
- Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
- Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
- Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
When it comes to the Tour de France accommodations I don’t need ANY of that (except for #8 and #9, those are maybe applicable), no what I need is some kind of Hotelier Guild Bylaws that go something like:
- Thou shalt provide access to HBO.
- Thou shalt provide the internet, reliably and swiftly.
- Thou shalt provide A/C.
- Thou shalt have an elevator.
- Thou shalt have paved parking areas.
- Thou shalt be in the right town, not the wrong town.
- Thou shalt include breakfast.
- Thou shalt have an espresso-capable bar area open from 7:00 AM-2:00 AM.
My other thing is this: apparently going to France in the summer is a thing. I know this because I’ve heard people say it, mostly the British but Americans too, and the idea definitely shows up in TV shows and in movies. People love France. People love vacationing here. But I’ve never understood why until today. Normandy is cool but whatever, it’s not amazing. And Paris is maybe the most beautiful city IN THE WORLD, so that’s kind of obvious. But the rest of France, excluding the Alps obviously, is, I thought, kinda boring. But today, this Gorge du Tarn deal is kinda insane. And actually when I think about it, the last several days, since the Pyrenees really, have all been pretty extraordinary.“That’s it, that’s all I got. Topographically and geographically speaking France does not suck. I love the Tarn River.”DWP
At one point during our Gorge exodus while stopped and waiting for the oncoming traffic to move out of our way, Kristof Ramon jumped out of the van in front of us, walked up to the front of our car, made eye contact with us through our windshield, and tap-danced for our benefit and our benefit alone.
Immediately following that demonstration, on our way to the finish he went right where we would have gone left. Ashley Gruber went left. Why was Kirstof going right? We followed him inspite of our maps and intuition. A.) the road was empty and curvy and we sped the whole way, B.) we beat Ashley Gruber to the finish.
I discovered the Press Room. I mean, I’ve known about it, but today I visited it after the finish and got free waters and coffee. And there is nothing like free water and coffee to really lift your spirits.
Our hotelier was drunk when we got here and “checked-in” at 8:00 PM. It’s 11:48 PM and he is even more drunk. He likes to talk at us in several languages at once. We recognize most of the words as either English, French or Spanish but not all of them. Some of them might be Portuguese or Vulcan.
In France the toilets are in one room and the sink and the shower are in another. At first because it was different from America (and maybe the rest of the world too?) I thought this was tedious and silly. But then when I thought about it, it makes a lot of sense. I know we all eventually get to that point in a relationship where it’s okay to poop in front of your partner. And that’s cool, if nothing else for practical reasons I get it. But listen, under no circumstances should steam be added to that scenario. So yeah, thanks France for doing it right.
While I write this sentence, an epic thunder and lightning rain storm just came to town. Before it started raining I went outside to watch the lighting strobe-out and light up the river valley. I’m not saying I experienced rapture but I got close.
The Tarn River and every town along it. The Gorge du Tarn. The two-hour long parade of European Recreators in jean shorts, bathing suits, ice cream cones, hats, life vests, tans, sunburns, etc., was heart-achingly magnificent. I wanted to stop everywhere and photograph everything. I love recreation. Also, Millau is tight.
Oh man, Prieuré de Las Canals was 285 euros. That’s so much money. Even for an entire ravine with dimension-bending portal access into art. Raoul, bud, what happened?
Emiliano and I aren’t talking to each other. The only intercourse we’ve had all day has been Strictly Business, like the EPMD album. All non-essential conversation has been suspended indefinitely. Last night he invited me to sit next to him, then told me that I needed to move because I was too eagerly and with too much aplomb assimilating/adopting French hygiene mores. I thought he was rude and insensitive. He thinks (I’m assuming) that I’m too sensitive about my feelings and not sensitive enough about shared airspace, especially in regards to olfactory emissions.
Because Emiliano and I aren’t talking to each other, and because I paid for the Prieuré de Las Canals while Emiliano was packing the car, there is a chance he might not know how much we paid for the Priory. In fact he might find out here, on his own blog.
Lately it seems like every time I look at my iPhone, it is hot and sweaty and dirty. It’s disgusting. I have a new Mophie iPhone battery case, and on this model the sleep button is recessed and difficult to depress. And so I’ve been putting it in my pocket awake. I wouldn’t recommend putting your iPhone in your pocket while it’s still awake. Yesterday it deleted an app but I can’t remember which one it was. I just keep looking at the empty space in the lower right-hand side of my home screen and think, what the fuck was that?, will I ever remember?, maybe it just got moved to a folder?, if I can’t remember what it was then it wasn’t worth having in the first place, right? Also while it was in there awake it wrote about six emails and saved them all as drafts. The subject lines of all six are some variation of ‘xxxyyxbduxxuxhxb’. Dear Friends and Family, if you received an email from me recently with a similar subject line, it wasn’t me, my iPhone hacked itself off in my hot sweaty pocket.
Waking up in the Priory sucked. It was hot and there were flies on my face. And my bed is also from the Medieval times. Last night we arrived at dusk, at “magic hour.” I feel hungover. And weird. And shy too. I feel like maybe, I don’t know, last night was one of those bird-mask-wearing ballroom dance parties and we all did a little too many drugs which led, as these things invariably do, to a writhing orgie.
Our brakes are squealing so: loud, bad, hard, much, often.
The 45 minute Gorge exodus was one of the best drives of my life. No traffic on either side of road. Long straights, corner drifting, speeding with impunity. And I fell asleep for most of it.
To get into our room we have to climb an aluminum modular spiral staircase only marginally attached to either the ground and/or the wall. It wobbles. It’s too narrow for humans. And it’s way too narrow for humans carrying luggage. It’s a lot like… a combination between a knock-off Little Giant Ladder and one of those staircases airlines wheel-out onto the runway for the barking and disembarking of commuter jets, only one from the 70’s, a Russian one from the 70’s, and spiral-shaped.
The last two stages have started where they finished the previous afternoon; i.e., on Saturday the race finishes in Mende, on Sunday the race starts in Mende. We are not staying in those towns. So when the race ends we drive for a long time to somewhere else. Sleep for four or five hours. Then in the morning, drive back for the start. I’m not saying it’s tedious, but maybe I should?
It’s easy to play! Just text and tell us Watcha’ Thinkin’ Bout! And we will print it. I mean publish it, in/on the internet verbatim.
…and then, moments later, this follow-up…“Maybe it is because Cannondale actually manufactures less expensive aluminum frames as well so it looks like their pro team is riding a crappier version of a high-end bike. I really can't tell. But the MTN bikes are so SIIIIIQQQQ”Anonymous
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- “A man asked me to touch his child. At first I thought this was a translation error because my French is much worse than it was when I was in college, but it turned out that he in fact asked me to touch the child mounted to his back. I touched the kid’s arm with my hand. France is weird.
- “Apparently I made the camera a few times. Job accomplished, like, literally. I’m supposed to get on TV in this suit and that’s what I did.
- “It was stupidly hot today. This was undoubtedly exacerbated by my outfit
choice, which in case the pictures weren’t descriptive enough, is a five foot tall foam bottle with extremely limited ventilation. But it was definitely hot up there to begin with. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much in my life. This bottle is very much not clean any more. People kept blowing up their tires on the ride down due to excessive braking which overheated rims, which were already overheated. They had been sitting in the hot sun for hours.
- “Jesus that climb is steep. It’s like five Manayunk Walls (of Philly fame) in a row, except steeper. That’s actually not even close to how hard that hill is. It’s not fun. I imagine it’s less fun when you’ve been racing across France for nearly two weeks.
- “Some Astana dude in the grupetto sucker punched me, and not because I was in the way, or because I yelled something mean, or because I was wearing an Ag2r jersey. He was joking around with another rider before he saw me, then he rode across the road and punched me. He smiled one of those movie villain smiles, the really corny kind that was probably intimidating in 1924 but now has been so overused that it’s just funny, and continued uphill.
- “I have no clue what actually happened in the stage today. It looked like Quintana and Nibali were attacking Froome? They might have done something cool?”