2015 Tour de France: Stage 04
Tuesday July 7, 2015 | Seraing
We are now officially in France, the land of Wefeee not Wifi. And MGSMD (May God Strike Me Dead) if this Wefeee is not every bit as good as First World Wifi. Better than average, in fact. Did France leave the Dial-Up Age once and for all?
20,703 or 10.01 miles
We are in a fairly modern first floor two-bedroom apartment in the town of Lens. We have a backyard and there is on-street parking RIGHT OUT FRONT—on the street! In terms of convenience, this place is the best place we’ve stayed yet.
- Photograph one (1) section of the race. (Day One of Operation Think Small) ✓+
- Find Saint Python and park. ✓
- Walk Cobblestone Sectors Three & Two. ✓
- Shoot the race at Cobblestone Sector Two (Quievy). ✓
- Extra credit for any coffees and croissants along the way. ✓+
- Tony Martin (5:28:58)
- John Degenkolb (+0:00:03)
- Peter Sagan (+0:00:03)
Etape 4 est l’ultime épreuve de force Pavée de Goblin.
Yesterday’s course featured the best of La Flèche Wallone. Today’s course featured some of the best of Paris-Roubaix. I’m sure there was some other shit, and some other towns, and I’m sure some aspects of the other shit/towns was interesting in their own Northern France not-that-interesting (really) kind of way, but clearly today was about two things and two things only:
- Cobble Goblins
- Cobble Gobblers.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if you wear your be-Croakied Oakley Frogskins around your neck so that they rest on your chest when in Standby Mode and you eat a chocolate croissant, you will get croissant flakes and crumbs on the inside of your Polarized Iridium lenses.
The built-in navigation system in our rented Renault Clio can provide maps and driving instructions for Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. But not France. Which is like wait, Liechtenstein but not France? This does not feel like it’s the result of economics, business, common sense, prevailing travel habits, etc. It feels personal.
In mapping parlance, when navigation software instructs you to take the “second right” in a roundabout, what it really means is to just keep going straight (given a standard four-pronged roundabout configuration, of course).
French street signs are not signs, they are plaques (blue to be specific). And don’t look for them mounted to the tops of poles, you won’t find them there, they are bolted to the sides of buildings.
Roads here have NO shoulders, which makes pedestrian travel alongside motorized traffic at best inconvenient and at worst dangerous.
Once again the day started rough but finished well. Two things really stand out.
Apparently at the Start every morning there is a coffee lounge for staff/media/organizers/racers/etc. Keiran and I auditioned it this morning, and if we bring our own milk we can make this work. Keiran even found miniature sandwiches and chocolate pie. And it comes highly recommended by Emily Maye, and it’s free, and it’s “on location.” And, sadly we are 1000% out of Starbucks range, more or less, until Paris. Anyway, that was fine, but then we hooked back into the gas station program again until the town of Lens where we stopped at Oh Sapristi on our way to the apartment. We ordered:
- Cappuccinos (while we waited, everything else was for emporter).
- Piquante – Sauce tomate, mozzarella, chorizo, olives.
- Oceanne – Sauce tomate, Thon, mozzarella, olives.
- Fromagères – Sauce crème, mozzarella, cheddar, gorgonzola, chèvres, olives.
- 2 bottles of San Pelligrino, but they refused to sell them to us because they can’t part with the bottles under threat of death.
It was wonderful. We took everything home where we hacked HBO GO so we could watch it in France. We watched the dumbest show on TV right now, you may have heard of it, it’s called True Detective. It’s a parody of an old TV show from about one year ago also called True Detective. That one, the first one, was one of the best shows on TV. So I guess with this one, the second one, they’re trying to like do some kind of complement or something by doing the polar opposite. Episode 3’s BEST/WORST dialogue was definitely the whole apoplectic exchange. Seriously, are they trying to suck?
I can’t think of any right now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t owe someone a retraction/correction/apology. If anything… it means we probably most definitely do.
I Today's Highs & Lows
- 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.
Dear World THIS NOTE IS REPRODUCED HERE VERBATIM, UNEDITED FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT, AND BECAUSE I NEED TO SLEEP. #bts
III Two Examples of French Fluency by Google Maps Lady
LEARNING FRENCH PHRASES! #2 AN EXPLORATION, A GLOSSARY, A CATALOG FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
“Je dois arriver au sommet!!!!!!”
(I need to get to the top!!!!!!)
A Catalog of Dutch Tour de France Race Phrases 10 Terms by Raoul
- '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.)
VI A Chronological Breakdown of the Day's Events
- 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.
VII Today's Castelli Unfair Advantage
VIII Today's Playlist
- 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
Klaus' Race Report by Alps & Andes
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.”
X Seraing Start
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.