Vuelta al País Vasco: Stage 01
Vuelta al País Vasco is chill. I mean it’s fast, and it’s probably the hardest race—according to Tom-Jelte Slagter—in the world except for a Grand Tour (i.e. the Vuelta, that French one and the Giro), and the spectator turnout is a solid B+, but all and all it’s kinda laid back.
I A Brief Compendium of Observations made WHile Traveling and Working in Basque Country for the Last Two Days, Including but not Limited to Observations Made While Documenting Etape 1 of the 54th Vuelta al País Vasco
- Okay, before we get started there is something that needs to be said out of respect for (and in recognition of) Basque Country, a sovereign or whatever country-state. But it’s only going to be said once because two things: 1.) it’s quasi-irrelevant because sometimes you just can’t win against convention and momentum, and 2.) as much as MFS supports any and all things artistic, ancient, Other and fixed-gear in nature, archaic languages are tedious and everyday-irrelevant. Okay here goes—Vuelta al País Vasco is actually “Euskal Herriko Itzulia.” There, we said it, let’s move on.
- Speaking of tedious, based on a recent, enlightening Hotel experience in the Basque town of Ordizia, MFS learned that custom and tedious are on opposite ends of the same spectrum and/or simply two different ways of looking at the same situation. First of all it’s Sunday and so everything is closed. Second of all it’s 3:00 in the afternoon and so everything is extra-double closed. Third of all Basque Country is semi-difficult to work in regards to maps and like “locating” things. Eventually we found our hotel, which hotel could accommodate/sleep, if it wanted to, at least 500 people at a time, it’s like that big. Anyway, we found it but it was closed. Until that moment, I thought Hotels, like prisons and hospitals, were physically incapable of closing, ever. We knocked on one door—nothing. Then we knocked on another door—nothing. Finally, we were able to get the attention of a woman cleaning the dining area but she refused to talk to us and/or let us in. Because we were insistent, she eventually came to the door and opened it a crack, which was enough to explain the situation which situation was: we had a reservation. Then, suddenly and completely, when she realized we were supposed to be there, she smiled and was apologetic. At that point we were immediately introduced to Benni, the main hotelier-type dude. And right away like BOOM Benni started to sort us out, we did the passport thing, we did the remote control thing, we did the key thing, basically we did ALL the things. Then he asked if we were hungry and we said yes, so he went to the kitchen and did (in what was seriously a matter of minutes) the farm-to-mouth footlong bacon, egg and cheese baguette thing. And then he wanted to know if were tired and did we want some coffee?, and we said yes, and so he started us on the endless café con leche thing. Then he asked if we needed anything else and we said yeah, we need a gas station within 6km or less! Because we were cutting it close on the way here, and plus everything including gas stations is extra closed so… and he was all yeah, follow me behind my car, I will take you to the “good gas,” at which point we were like yeah cool but seriously just standard/regular type gas for our car is fine, and he was like nononononono you have to have this gas, this is the “good” gas, the other gas is the bad gas, and we were all yeah but, and was all no please just follow me, and so we did. And then when we got there he parked and got out walked over to where we were pumping gas and watched us, like he literally sat there and watched us pump gas. And then when we were done pumping the gas he escorted us into the store-area and stood with us and watched us pay. Not creepy. Not sketchy. Totally friendly. Totally unnecessary. I know what you’re thinking but this was not a language or translation issue. Por que, Emiliano Granado speaks fluent Spanish. And despite what we had heard about Basque Country, everyone here speaks Spanish, including Benni and the gas station attendant and everybody. So whateverwas happening on the Tedious-Custom spectrum was not language-based. We think?!?!?!??!, it just what a made-to-order/bespoke/artisanal/handcrafted hotelier experience looks like. Anyway after we were pumped and paid he wanted us to follow him back to the Hotel—for what, who knows. We said we had to go to San Sebastian because we had to go to San Sebastian, which go to San Sebastian eventually we did and it was positively delicious. We had coffee on a boardwalk-type deal on the edge of the beach and watched myriad summertime activities including but not limited to surfing, slacklining, beach volleyball, tanning, frisbee, footbaggin’, sun bathing, book reading, etc.
- There is a genre of music popular in Europe and possibly the whole world including the Estados Unidos, which genre of music sounds like variation after variation of Tracy Chapman remixed by Top 40 House DJs; e.g., Avicii.
- It’s spring. Basque Country is blooming.
- In Basque Country, Dude Bangs are okay—as in dudes (men, boys, gentlemen, males, etc.) can wear their front-hair straight across like The Ramones.
- Basque Country translates, directly, to West Virginia.
- Many basic exchanges, sales, transactions, etc., in Basque Country retain an old-timey or retro-bureaucratic analog quality. First of all, credit cards are not accepted in many bars and kafetegia (side note: kafetegia is pronounced caf’a’teria). Second of all, they love to staple and collate and file and sign things like receipts and bills of sale and whatnot. In triplicate.
- Okay so this observation is unresolved, it’s rough, it’s a living document, but so, there is a prevailing look here among the 20-35 set that goes something like: gypsy-burner-revolutionary-footbagger. No, that’s not it. It’s neogoth-steampunk-Rastafarian-criminal-hippie. Nonononononono, what about Mad-Max-propaganda-Marxist-REI-rock-climber?
- Coming Soon: A typology of Reggae Mullets!
- Vuelta al País Vasco is chill. I mean it’s fast, and it’s probably the hardest race—according to Tom-Jelte Slagter—in the world except for a Grand Tour (i.e. the Vuelta, that French one and the Giro), and the spectator turnout is a solid B+, but all and all it’s kinda laid back. It’s not that noisy. It’s not high-energy. There’s no Mountain Squirrel hype mascot. No roadside dance parties. No horns or sirens or drive-by advertising. And the Policía (Local, Nacional, Guardia Civil, whatevs) are helpful, and like, it’s easy, albeit confusing, to make it from one point to the next in a timely and semi civil manner. And dude, there is plenty of room on the side of the road to park, even near the top of the KOMs. So far, this race is just kinda easy.
- We have a Fake Team Car (FTC). Manual for Speed’s Team Car is actually Dutch amateur team Midden-Limburg’s Ford Focus station wagon. One of Midden-Limburg’s sponsors, Ventrex Logistics (shipping logistics), is Raoul’s employer and therefore a de facto supporter of Manual For Speed. At any rate, because the Vuelta al País Vasco website is written in an archaic language, there was some confusion regarding whether sticker-wrapping/branding/logoing/badging/etc on one’s media vehicle was permissible or not. Which is highly relevant because our FTC is dressed in stickers and logos just like any other team car. And covering our FTC in painter’s tape (head-to-toe) wasn’t going to be as fun as it sounded. More importantly, driving around a FTC is as beneficial as it sounds. In almost every scenario; volunteers, policia, parking enforcement, crowds, etc., basically everywhere and anywhere in or near the race, having an FTC is the only way to go.
- It doesn’t matter, maybe you work police or construction or whatever maybe you’re unemployed, it doesn’t matter; just wear a beret and a pirate earring. BOOM, you’re legit.
- Flyknits and reflective t-shirts ARE NOT cool in Basque Country, we got called “hipsters” Hate Crime-style several times today while walking up and down the course.
- Towards the end of the race Raoul started to lose his voice, basically it just started to go froggy and hoarse all of the sudden. At any rate, he blames it on the admittedly delicious vanilla ice cream cone he purchased from an Ice Cream Truck/Man at the top of Alto de Gaintza.
- Sitchback = A switchback which, like most switchbacks, provides an excellent vantage from which to photoshoot the race, along with a situation, or quality entertainment-spectacle, to photoshoot while waiting for the race to pass. MFS invites you to incorporate sitchback into your vocabulary immediately.
- Several times today we experienced the old please, please, please, please, please take my/our photograph even though we will never see it, even though we won’t ask to look at in the back of your camera, even though we have no idea what you’re doing here and/or what you’re doing with these photographs in the first place, basically even though we don’t speak your language and we wont benefit in any fashion at all from having our photograph taken, please, please, please just take our photograph so that you have it because we think you need it, please have our photograph (lots of smiling and nodding).
- Basque Country Mineral Water11aka ‘aqua con gas’ Warning: It would appear that the citizens of Basque Country enjoy the casual diurnal consumption of Tonic Water, but only on the DL. Let me explain: they don’t call it Tonic Water, they call it Mineral Water, which, is at best confusing and disrespectful to Mineral Water. Also, certain types/brands of actual Mineral Water here, actually contain some pretty serious silt-like minerals, and as such they taste like a combination of mountain sweat and sock. And worse still, they’re gritty.
- Attrition leads to atrophy—wait, atrophy leads to attrition?—whatever, coordinating interviews with human professional athletes is definitely tedious and not custom.
- Words in general, place names in particular, are written in an archaic semi-fictional language, the hallmarks of which are too many Xs, Qs, Zs and Gs. Also, call me crazy but it looks like they’re using a combination of letters and runes. You know those movies set so far back in the past you’ve got aliens and pyramids and humans all interacting with each other, like for example The 5th Element? That’s what words look like here.
A Brief List of Useful Translations According to the "Ibilbide Ofiziala" Which we think is Basque, which we know isn't the name of the language, for "Race Manual"
- Parking = Aparkalekua
- Press Room = Bulego Iraunkorra
- Doping control = Kontrol Mendikoa
- Start = Irteera
- Finish = Helmuga
- Course= Laisterketa Zentzua
- Podium = Podium
Today's Playlist Provided by EUROPAFM
- 1 Jubel Klingande
- 2 Passenger Let Her Go
- 3 Avicii Hey Brother
- 4 Flo Rida Good Feeling
- 5 Gorgon City feat. MNEK Ready for Your Love
- 6 Maixa Ta Ixiar Eguna Jaio Arte
- 7 Lady Gaga Edge of Glory
- 8 Inna feat. Yandel In Your Eyes (Extended)
- 9 Lily Allen Hard Out Here
- 10 Avicii Wake Me Up
- 11 Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynee Rather Be
V ALTO DE LAZKAOMENDI
VII Alto de Gaintza
Basque Regional Slingshot Championships Stage 01 - Welcome to the Slingshot Zone!
As you know, slingshotting22The exertion of force on a human athlete’s lower back region (LBR), typically with one’s hand, in order to increase a human athlete’s speed up a steep hill or incline, or simply to assist them for a brief period of time, during which the human athlete is allowed to rest for a second or “ease up’ if even just momentarily. is the most important of all spectator maneuvers. Moreso than water bottler collection, signature collection, shouting, clapping, cheering, fist pumping and instrument blowing, slingshotting is the one and only maneuver that brings the spectator into direct physical contact with the human athlete. Because a great deal of mutual trust is required in order to properly execute a slingshot, the slingshotter must approach the slignshotee with good form and a great deal of confidence. The would-be slingshotter’s approach must combine skill, commitment, technique, presentation, and passion.
To celebrate the Slingshot Maneuver, Manual for Speed is hosting the first ever Basque Regional Slingshot Championships. On Saturday March 12 we will crown the first ever Slingshot King—”The King of Sling.”
Slingshotting is not a race where the first one over a finish line wins!, it’s a freestyle action sport and as such winners are determined by a peer-based score system. We want YOU to be the judge! This is how it works, please review the following seven contestants, judge their slingshot entry based on the following five-point system:
- Eye Contact
- Hand Placement
Do absolutely no math, just rate each contestant in your head based on the five-point system and tell us who you think won! Please text your vote (the contestants name, e.g. Gorka) to 503.754.7476 (please don’t call, it’s 48 United States Dollars a minute!), and a winner of Stage 01 will be selected in the next 24 hours.