2015 Tour de France: Stage 18
Thursday July 23, 2015 | Gap
Every day at the end of the day we stink and we’re sticky. I think the only time I’ve ever felt more sullied and begrimed was when I messengered on a scooter in Los Angeles back in ‘93 (the freeways and that inversion layer add-up).
12,036 steps or 5.8 miles
We are in a mid-80’s low-income Apartment Building originally located in Moscow, Russia. In 1994 it was bought by the Valmeinier Ski Resort and relocated by helicopter to the base of Mont Thabor, a 3,207 meter Alpe across the street from Col du Galibier. The property is now called ‘Résidence Pierre et Vacances Le Thabor’. We have sheets AND towels (see below, Race Report), though we have to make our own beds (they are unmade, and our sheets/towels are still in packaging). The building has an elevator.
- Ugh, another start. ✓
- Photograph the big hill, the hors jammer, Col du Glandon. ✓
- Romain Bardet (5:03:40)
- Pierre Rolland (+0:00:33)
- Winner Anacona (+0:00:59)
Tout le monde dos poppin’
Pourpoint genoux, les filles Workin’
Work it jusqu’à votre hurtin de l’estomac
Ne vous arrêtez pas, Gotta Get It Get It
Détaillez-le jusqu’à ce corps sweatin’
Tout le monde Watchin’, mais cela ne signifie pas que nous Stoppin’
Everybody back poppin’
Knees jerkin’, girls workin’
Work it till your stomach hurtin’
Don’t stop, gotta get it get it
Break it down till body sweatin’
Everybody watchin’, but that don’t mean we stoppin’
Let them know you worth it
Dust it off and jerk it
Jerk it, jerk it
Dust it off and jerk it
Whatchu you know ’bout the bang-bang
Don’tchu you wanna know
But you can’t stay flow
Relax and take off your coat
Show you something never seen before
On the edge of the course we saw a woman wearing an actual bona fide raspberry beret. Later that morning we listen to Prince’s song about her hat.
When we’re on the course ahead of the race we are lawless. We can do anything vehicular in nature we want. Depending on the stage and the nature of the course we may leave the course and rejoin it several times. It’s VERY important to be cognisant of which driving scenario you’re in at any given point. In particular, on-coming traffic is NOT an issue on the course, but off the course… Side Note: European roads don’t have shoulders. AT ALL!
On the back of the Team Etixx Quick Step Bus the words Klein Constantia 1685 are written in giant letters. WTF is Klein Constantia 1685? It’s a winery club in South Africa.
The Alps are faded. Not drunk, just old and worn and desaturated.
Two notable forms of Technology: 1) Following a mountaintop finish it’s not uncommon for racers to ride back down the mountain. If they do, they are equipped with whistles to help negotiate the exodus-based chaos. 2) TDF race organizers tie trash bags all over the place to barricades, trees, poles, whatever. It’s so basic, so easy, and so efficient. Trash cans are stupid. Trash bags work.
Breakfast (Orphanage Dining Room)
- It was horrible, I don’t want to talk about it.
Lunch (various boulangeries)
- Tedious, unnoteworthy. The usual. I think i ate something like four-hundred mediocre pain au chocolats.
Dinner (Restaurant Les Lauzes)
- I ate a pizza with an egg on top. And a salad with an egg on top.
- Emiliano ate Steak Frites. And some of my oeff-having pizza.
- We both had several coffees and glace. Emi had three balls and whip cream. I had two balls without whip cream.
- And San Pellegrinos, two of them.
- Yesterday we accidentally published Verbatim-style observations. Sorry about that. Today we re-published them in a more comprehensible and complete form.
- Regarding why would anyone bike meat?: First of all, to all of you who contributed to this discourse, thank you so much! We appreciate your help. Second of all, this morning Emiliano solved the mystery, the note was supposed to read, why would anyone boil meat? The other night we ran into some boiled meat in Sisteron. As far as we can tell it’s not that common in France, but, it did make us wonder… why does anyone, anywhere boil meat? I mean, if you have fire-tech (which you NEED for boiling), why not just put the meat on the fire?
Dear World Race Report
I didn’t take a shower last night because it was too complicated.
- The shower wasn’t a shower, it was a bathtub with a hand-held shower head on the end of a metal hose.
- Since I don’t have a shower assistant (Emiliano was sleeping) these situations make my arm(s) hurt. Also, they are Unnecessary Tedium incarnate. Listen, Europe, you’re 90% of the way to a shower but what, you give up? You don’t have poles or rods or something? Free-standing activities lead to teenage pregnancy? What’s going on here?
- I lost my soap. I used to have soap. I had a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Almond soap in a plastic traveling case but now it’s gone forever. The bathroom in our Gite comes with a writing desk, not soap.
- I didn’t have a towel because our Gite also does not provide towels. There’s that Vonn Trapp family homeschool desk though, so I’m sure as fuck not complaining; also the night is young, and clean or not my post-MFS résumé isn’t going to write itself.
- But I was dirty, real dirty. I get soooo dirty out there, slinging, walking the climbs. No but dude shut-up, this is serious, every day at the end of the day we stink and we’re sticky. I think the only time I’ve ever felt more sullied and begrimed was when I messengered on a scooter in Los Angeles back in ‘93 (the freeways and that inversion layer add-up). Point is, even though it was 3:45 AM and I had none of the right equipment I started to entertain alternatives.
- I shouldn’t take all the credit. On the towel rack was a still-damp twin bedsheet. Emiliano’s berth for the night was a bunk-bed in the Time Out corner behind the tapestry-curtain. A la, ergo, voila, therefore, he had an extra sheet-cum-towel.
- My bed was just the one bed so I started to think. But then I forgot what I was thinking about so I started to play chess on my iPhone which is what I do when I don’t know what to do. It’s going pretty well. I’m not a 16th level Paladin with 167 hit points, but I am a 1200 Elo Class D Novice and I win about half the time. Then my phone died.
- Then I really forgot what I was doing so I went to sleep in my filth.
- But first I read three pages of “The Drury Girl” by Sam Lipsyte from the book Venus Drive. Before I fell asleep I remembered to take off my Petzl Zipka—the kind with a retractable garotte—which is a good thing because if I don’t I wake-up halfway through a craniotomy.
My first thought was why are there flies on my face? My second thought was this Gite smells like a cattery but soooooounds like an orphanage. I can’t finish breakfast because breakfast is that bad. Also, flies. Our car is a nest and when we pull-out I notice the trash-shadow. We follow a river down the mountain to Gap. The river looks like chocolate milk but we see lots of rafters rafting the chocolate milk river. Every small town in France has a digital Vouz Roulez A Radar speed sign. They display your speed, and based on that speed in relation to the speed limit, either a happy face or a sad face. It’s cute in concept, but in practice France frowns at us at least once every day .
Recreational Vehicles are a menace. They’re wrong for humanity. Also driving one up a mountain says I’m an asshole and I don’t give a shit about anybody. I can’t live without my Beanie Baby collection. I won’t travel without all six of my weimaraners: Donner, Blitzen, Adolph, Gunner, Bentley and Cash. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. When the Apocalypse comes they’re going out in the first wave. First of all, when gas and water finally really matter these fuckers don’t stand a chance. And it gets worse. When they’re immobilized and just parked on the side of the road they practically broadcast Hey Come over here and check-out my abundance of resources! Thing is, when it comes to a siege, these puppies are child’s play. Easily surrounded, easy to tip over, moderately flammable.
On the upside, once again a seventy year old grandma rips past us, this one wearing blue blockers and a white denim hat with the word NICE written across the front in giant rhinestones.
Emiliano wants to know why all the Bernards in France and maybe all of Europe have old basic-ass bikes. He wants to know where all if any the steez is. We talk about sports. How cycling in Europe might just be a sport. A sport like basketball. And why would you upgrade a basketball? Maybe in Europe bikes are just basketballs.
Sign-in is on a wide, broad avenue in the shade. There are two giant TVs. We leave Gap on the course on a road that goes to Grenoble. If someone forced me to live in France I think I could live in Gap. It’s up against the Alps and a National Park or two, and also the climbing starts immediately. Someone in a Minnesota State sweatshirt, Go Gophers! Someone else in a cage eight feet off the ground on the end of a forklift.
We’re hungry so we slow through every town scanning for a Boulangerie. There is no way to deviate our way back onto the course at any point so today is just about the one climb, the hors jammer. It takes hours. We drive up and down six maybe seven individual alps before we get to the bottom of the main event. It’s worth it. There are lakes, waterfalls, meadows, snow fields in the bowls and couloirs, shit is Alpine.
When the race passes we jump in behind it and surf it to the bottom. After waiting for the race to finish, we commute to our Mountaintop apartment building which is in basically-Col du Galibier.
II Today's Highs & Lows
- At one point today I was so hungry and the course was so demanding (no free hands) I ate half a bag of Really Bad Kids food-bag style—you tear upon the top of the package for full frontal access, then you bury your face into the top of the bag, being careful to place your nose just beyond the edge of the bag to allow for breathing, then you lick and suck and shovel the food into your mouth at which point you eat it, but you never really pull your head out of the bag until you're done grazing.
- The expression chapeau. We hear it everyday. Several times a day. Please stop.
- The Va Va Froome! thing. Please stop.
- Fondue? Fondon’t! The table next to us at Restaurant Les Lauzes ordered Fondue. Second-hand Fondue is a problem.
- We must be in the budget Alps. The vibe around here is pretty Pocono. Have you ever been to the Poconos?
- We need a break from popped-collar polo shirts with shit sewn onto them and applique flags and emblems and the names of fake rugby clubs all over the place.
- Emotional eating is on high.
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III Gap Start
IV Col du Glandon
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