2015 Tour de France: Stage 17
Wednesday July 22, 2015 | Digne-Les-Bains
Walking up a well-spectated climb is maybe quite possibly my second most favorite part of documenting a race. The end is near. Alpe D’huez is all anyone can talk about.
14,467 steps or 6.8 miles
We are staying at Gite Auberge La Blanche. Gite Auberge La Blanche literally translates to Mountain Cottage Camp For Youth and Cats. More on this later.
- Shoot the start. ✓
- Drive to the bottom of the finish, take the shuttle to the top of the finish. X
- Photograph the finish. ✓ –
- Simon Geschke (4:12:17)
- Andrew Talansky (+0:00:32)
- Rigoberto Uran (+0:01:01)
Votre autocollant est pas bien ici. Si vous voulez savoir sur le cours le regarder à la télévision. Les Américains aiment la télévision, non?
We’re not qualified to comment on today’s race course because we weren’t allowed onto today’s race course, even with our #stickerprivilege. However, we’re in the French Alps. For your information, while some of the ranges of the French Alps are all the way inside France, others are shared with Italy and Switzerland. In fact, the Swiss are commonly referred to as “Mountain French.” The biggest Alp, Mont Blanc if you’re French or Monte Bianco if you’re Italian, is 4,808 meters tall if you’re French or Italian, or 15,744 feet tall if you’re American. The drive time between Pra Loup, the ski resort where today’s stage finished, and Mont Blanc is four hours and thirty-seven minutes at a distance of 378 kilometers. Other than Squirrel Suiting and Extreme Downhill Roller Suiting, and the hats, the coolest thing about the Alps is that this Carthaginian dude named Hannibal crossed them with a bunch of Elephants, and then a few years later the dude from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure crossed them with an army of 40,000 men. Point is, it’s hard to ride a bike up them because they’re capital-M Mountains, but it’s not impossible.
Got to remember when your off course, diff rules , two lanes for example
Klein constantia 1685 – quickstep
HAUT ALPES. Are desaturated, color of boiled sausage. Lack of color and vibrance. Kinda worn. Been around too long.
Side note: riding is cool but NO SHOULDER.
Whistle tech Trash bag tech
Breakfast (at our Sisteron Bed & Breakfast)
- A basket of baguettes.
- Organic-but-disgusting orange juice.
- Bottomless cafe creme.
- Apricot jam and demi-salted butter pats.
- Plain croissants.
Lunch (Boulangerie le Pain Des Pistes in Barcelonnette)
- Roller Rink Pizza.
- Pain Au Chocolat.
- Salami avec gherkin baguette.
- Cafe creme.
Dinner (in the Cattery)
- Salad with carrots (dressing applied).
- Homemade lasagna made with cat.
- Salad without carrots (the same dressing, a delicious mustard vinaigrette, but on the side).
- A yogurt-type cylindrical puck in a bowl with a red fruit sauce drizzled on top (a bowl of sugar and spoon if required—it wasn’t).
- Cafe creme.
- Dear Readers: We received thousands of emails (a short selection has been reproduced verbatim below) in the last 24-hours regarding the nature and quality of our Stage 16 Bicycle Race Blog Report. It seems as though many of you thought our report was half-assed at best and at worst flippant. Listen, first of all, both are probably true. Second of all, the irony is this: that’s exactly how Stage 16 felt. Blablabla is an accurate representation. As journalists we are beholden to a higher directive. We must tell the truth. We must present the facts as they are and not as how we’d like them to be. Did we want to write more than bla-bla-bla? Yes of course, but we are, in the end, truth-seekers. That’s what sets us a part from the animals.
- Why do I keep breaking Canon 550EX flashes? Since I’ve been in France I’ve broken two of them. But not through impact or any other type of physical violence including but not limited to bathing in Badoit, dropping onto a gravel turnout, having it knocked out of my hands by a rider commuting off the mountain, etc. They just suddenly stop working. I’m shooting, it’s working, I’m shooting, it’s flashing, then boom, it fails, it’s not working or flashing, for no discernible reason. And before you say it, yes, obviously I checked the batteries and tried seven hundred sets of new ones to see if it made a difference, it does not. They’re not expensive but they’re not cheap either. So Canon, you owe me an apology. Now overnight me two new flashes please.
To Whom It May Concern Race Report
On the way to Digne-Les-Bains we paid several tolls. After nearly a month we still don’t know how the péages work, sometimes they want money, sometimes they only want cards, sometimes they will take our cards, sometimes they won’t, sometimes they will take change, sometimes they want to give you a ticket. It’s best just to be prepared for everything. The start was bright except for the tree tunnel. We shot the start, we never shoot the start. The boulangerie near where we parked got Horsed pretty hard so we decided to look for lunch on the way.
We’ve known about the Alps for a few days now. Everything about Sisteron had the vibe: the river, the gorge, the rocks, the mountains in the distance. Today though, for the first time, we drove right into them. Compared to American mountains they appear desaturated, no vibrancy. They look old and faded, they are old and faded, but they’re still breathtaking and magnificent, they’re still one of the Most Spectacular Mountain Ranges in the World.
We sped straight to Barcelonnette, the town below the Ski Resort Pra Loup, stopping only for gazole and to emport some lunch but we still missed the shuttle. For a minute Emiliano felt so disillusioned he wanted to just go home but then we just figured out how to #stickerprivilege our way to the edge of the course and walk up from there. Walking up a well-spectated climb is maybe quite possibly my second most favorite part of documenting a race.
The end is near. Alpe d’Huez is all anyone can talk about.
II Today's Highs & Lows
- This text from my mom: “Yee-haw! Front and center on Velo News!” Dear Mom, thanks for reminding me that is an acceptable expletive/declarative/ejaculation.
- We spent our Rest Day in Sisteron where we stayed in a Bed & Breakfast. There was some confusion with our booking (we booked two rooms not one) so Emiliano and I were obliged to stay in different rooms. The internet worked perfectly, allowing Emiliano and I to catch-up on emails, watch TV, and research “stuff” at our own pace.
- Guys guys guys guys guys guys guys guys we figured it out. Freds in Europe are called ‘Bernards’. Used in a sentence: Walking down the mountain today I almost got run over by like fifty Bernards.
- Sticker Privilege isn’t limited to reckless driving, speeding with impunity and access to the race course wherever we want except in the midst of the actual race, not at all, it also allows us to park like ultra-rich assholes/diplomats: on curbs, in people’s front yards, half-way down a set of public stairs, blocking handicap ramps, etc.
- It’s tedious but we love a good Exodus. Today’s was especially vivid and chaotic because of a thunderstorm which caused thousands (young, old, boy, girl, everybody) to run for cover and hide all over the place: under cars, in trees, under trash bags, in ditches, under newspapers, etc. Halfway through the rain turned to hail.
- Missing the shuttle to the finish. I hate public transportation and the climb was probs better.
- Yesterday I had a one-hour long conversation with our Bed & Breakfast host, Muhammad. We talked about Transcendental Meditation, Marseilles (where he grew up), JP Morgan, Monsanto, Taoism, Universal Truths, Collective Consciousness, French orange juice and Gorge de la Méoue.
- Gorge de la Meouge. The most life-affirming and France-affirming moment of Manual for Speed’s 2015 Tour De France coverage. We took NO PHOTOGRAPHS, it was a rest day.
- Watching Emiliano open a bag of reconstituted Haribo Dragolo and take a bite from what was once hundreds of individual candies and colors but had become a hunk of raw Gummy ore. “It has the consistency of a raw piece of meat.”—Emiliano
- We missed the shuttle to the finish because Emiliano didn't know there was a cutoff time even though we (Emiliano, Kristof Ramon and I) had a conversation about the cutoff time this morning, in which cutoff conversation he was an active participant. His response, “Oh, yeah, I wasn't really paying attention.” My favorite part of this story is how we were only ½ hour late for the last bus. ½ hour is about five minutes longer than the time it took us to fart-around town buying gazole and lunches. We could have easily made it, we just spaced it. Who else covering the 2015 TDF can say that?, “We missed the finish because we forgot which side of the car the gas tank is on.”
- It got so hot today at the start that we had a catastrophic Haribo meltdown. We lost everything. Hundreds of euros in gummy bears, sour laces, etc., all ruined.
- A week ago I moved my running shoes (interactive failure museum) out of my luggage and into the driver’s side backset footwell. Now I put spent batteries in them so they aren't loose and rolling around in the back of the car. I make a deposit on average once a day. It’s hard to explain how sad filling my impotent running shoes with a small landfill's worth of AA batteries is, but it is really sad.
- We are staying in a Cattery. I’ve counted 19 individual cats. They are everywhere.
- Dinner in the Mountaintop Cattery, as is the custom apparently with Gites, was Family Style. The other guests are as follows: a French family with seven kids ranging in age from 5 to 15, an elderly British Couple, and two photographers one of whom I recognize from Tour of California and other various Domestic races. There are two long tables in the dining room but for whatever reason only one of them was set for dinner even though we could all barely fit at the table. We asked if we could take our plates and sit at the other table, together, but away from the fray. Eventually they relented but at first it was a lite-fight. We think they think we’re unsocialized animals. It was a set dinner, no menu.
- The main was lasagne. It was flavorless and I suspect it was made with cat.
- We knew all along the dude with a beard was good at life. We didn't know he would win a stage of the Tour de France but we have been talking about asking him to audition for Kasual Klub. We don’t know why, we both just independently got the vibe. Now maybe it’s too late because he’s somebody now, at least for a minute.
III Today's Deep Thought
As many of you know MFS reports are made using Note-Tech™. Here’s how it works…
- While driving to the start Emiliano says something stupid, like, “Look at the girl, she’s wearing an actual, literal raspberry beret. Do you think it’s the same one? Listen, listen, listen, listen… I think I love her too.”
- I take my phone out.
- I open Day One.
- I type the note into Day One using ONLY ONE THUMB BECAUSE I ONLY EVER USE ONE THUMB.
- “emi rasberry beret, he loves here too”
- Throughout the day I add more notes.
- At the end of the day I sync Day One on my phone with Day One on my computer. Day One then syncs, provided the sync does not fail. Which it normally does not. But it has, and I’ve cried and thrown bona fide temper tantrums, but that’s a different story.
- Then I cut and paste the notes into a Google Doc where I organize and edit them.
- Invariably the notes are full of spelling mistakes, missing words and broken phrases. Sometimes they’re simply clues, or short-hand. While it might take a moment to decipher some of them it’s rarely impossible. But it does happen.
- Today for example I wrote: “Why would anyone bike meat?”
- I have no clue what that means or what it’s about. Neither does Emiliano.
- If you have any information leading to an understanding of this note, please email or text us immediately. No reward. Unless it warrants a reward. It’s hard to know at this point, and that’s yet another symptom of the problem.
IV Today's Playlist
This special playlist is inspired by our actual-factual in-car conversations regarding today’s Start Town Digne-Les-Bains, Finishing Hotel Gite Auberge La Blanche and the song Raspberry Beret.
V Digne-Les-Bains Start
VI Pra Loup
VII Yo! MFS CRIBZ
VIII Tour DAY France
Maybe Manuel got his days mixed up?
From the MFS Inbox Reproduced Verbatim
Reading about MFS on Velonews feels like hearing a guy describe his experience of going on a date with my wife.
I very much enjoy reading your race report each day. However I must say your stage 16 reports was,well…disappointing. Unless of course your were going for a pre-rest day rest day kind of thing, In which case YOU NAILED IT! Keep up the good work, I love it.
Hey, so about your stage 16 report. What’s the deal?
I know you guys are hot, and you’re tired, you’re emotionally drained, and you don’t eat enough fruit (seriously, guys, eat some fruit (and/or vegetables)). It’s stressful driving a defective rental, dealing with grumpy hotel staff, bad weefee, and stairs that aren’t up to code. I get that.
But… Imagine you’re not at the TdF. Imagine you’re just some dude in England. A dude who loves the TdF. A dude who cycles to work everyday dreaming he’s riding 6.7kg of svelte carbon fibre, scaling pyrenean cols and hanging with the pros. Imagine said work is sitting at a computer for 8 hours, the monotony broken only by watching the days stage and reading MFS. You want to be at the TdF, but you can’t, but it’s cool because there are two solid dudes who are, and they’re writing funny shit and taking sweet photos.
Now, imagine reading “blah, blah, blah”.
You’re looking at Jered Gruber, Kristof Ramon, Graham Watson… Phil Liggett. Legit professionals, doing legit TdF business. Maybe you see them and you think that what you do isn’t that important, that it’s not legit TdF business. Maybe you think that it doesn’t matter if you skimp on a stage, that you can pass it off as being chill and irreverent.
It DOES matter. It IS legit TdF business!
You guys are doing a good thing.
Maybe I’m way off the mark, maybe some real-life shit happened. If that’s the case then sorry, I hope it works out.
I have some comments/answers/thoughts on your poll. Here it goes.
- two thumbs whenever possible, but for many reasons, 1 is all that’s available, and not always the faster one. Sometimes you have to get the tweets to the people, and that hashtag can’t wait for the other thumb to be available.
- seeds, man
- Ambulance-taxis seems like an incredible idea if it means what I think it means. If it is an ambulance available on demand outside the scope of the traditional 911 emergency structure, wherein anyone who just needs a ride to the hospital for a non-life-threatening reason can get one, I think that would be great especially in cities where people don’t drive often. Taking an ambulance adds up pretty fast if you don’t have good enough insurance and/or it was used for something the insurance decided wasn’t an emergency. I imagine this ambulance-taxi would be much cheaper and an appropriate solution for many.