Tag Archives: Tour de France
For a variety of reasons I have not been at sea nearly as much as I had hoped or expected on this assignment – hence my more regular-than-expected posts. Instead of riding the waves I have been killing time day by day in small town hotel rooms feeling alternately like the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day and the travelling salesman Norman Rockwell painted for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, 19 August 1950, showing a lonely guy sitting up in bed in a dumpy hotel room playing solitaire on his sample case – ‘Solitaire’, I believe, was the title of the painting.
I’ve no sample case with me, but I do have a laptop balanced on my knees in my Spartan hotel room and a TV set on the wall and for a couple of hours each afternoon I get to watch the Tour de France, something I rarely have the time or opportunity to do back home in England. To be sure, it is broadcast in a language I can only barely understand (at least at the rapidity with which it is being spoken by the cheerfully garrulous presenters) but that is no matter. Their animated voices are a pleasing counterpoint to the dullness of my room and anyway isn’t the Tour de France is all about the grand spectacle? The rainbow swoosh of nearly two hundred cyclists spinning through the French countryside? The attacks on the climbs, the solitary breakaways, the sprint finishes? Who needs the commentary?
I am not into racing, as anyone who has been following this blog will have figured out long ago. Nor am I into watching TV. Everything I don’t know about Tour tactics, personalities, teams and the Continental racing scene in general you could just about crowd into an Olympic Velodrome, but ignorance hasn’t seemed to detract from my enjoyment of the coverage. In my muddled way I have formed my own pantheon of heroes and goats – helped along, I should add, by the more in-depth race analyses I read each evening in a blog called In the GC – and developed a modest rooting interest in a few favourites, the usual suspects, I suppose – Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish and, in a Francophile sort of way, Sylvain Chavanel, to name but a few. In the main though I am sitting here in my far-from-home hotel room taking vicarious enjoyment in these spins through the sunlit French countryside, imagining myself out there – not racing, you understand, but simply pootling along at an agreeable rate of knots on my Pegoretti, as free as air.