Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Time In A Bottle

Like a lot of people I know, I don't so much fly in dreams as float. Float with speed, but float. And I never know if it's just in the dream or if I do this first part in reality too, but to attain liftoff I need to completely relax and completely let go. For someone who rarely lets go completely in waking life, it's a rather nice feeling. Which brings me to the 2006 Tour de France DVD by World Cycling Productions. I'm obsessed, but not rich, so I waited for the 12-hour edition to go on sale and just got it this week. (Just in time apparently, it was half-price when I ordered, but now it's only 22% off!) Firmly in the Floyd Landis as Hero camp, I thought it would all be bittersweet and heartbreaking, that there was no way I could enjoy it again as I had last summer.

I went right for Stage 16 - actually, I was going right for Stage 17, and then smacked myself in the head, recalling that 16 was a tad bit significant as well. At first, there were the knots in the stomach and the tears in the eyes I had expected. Lament for that which has been lost forever - the Before we will never get back to. And of course, in Stage 16, I'm pleading with Floyd - Eat, Drink. But as 16 rolled into 17, I was able to let the familiar visuals and incessant chatter of Phil and Paul draw me back in time.

Pretty soon I was floating - happy, at peace, laughing and cheering just as I had that glorious morning last July. Relishing in all my favorite moments - the double-takes when he reaches the breakaway, the casual toss of a broken bike and the impatient holler when getting pushed off on the replacement, the comical flick of the wrist requesting his 570th bottle of water from the team car, the demonic descents. Of course the pain and frustration of today never completely goes away, but it's surprising the extent to which it can fade, even if for just a little while.

Naturally, you can get all that other stuff out of re-watching 16 and 17 - how clear it is that everyone else wore themselves out trying to pile on the gap in 16, that they were unbelievably lame-brained with their tactics in 17, that Floyd ate and drank 10 times more than anyone else in the pack did, that the peloton didn't stretch a bit until CSC finally took the reins late in the game, that Floyd actually rode with one or more other riders for much of the stage - all that stuff that shows it was a great effort and great tactics by Floyd, but not super-human. And shows that Floyd was the class of the field, in terms of contenders. Sastre was valiant, but oh, to see Floyd, Jan, Ivan, and Vino chasing each other around France - as Aaron Sorkin would say, that's a fight I would've liked to see. But I recommend leaving all that for another day. Sit back, relax, hum a little Jim Croce, and reliving 17 is a lovely evening.

At the end of the final disc, they dive right into the headlines and speculation, so you have no choice but to come crashing back down and awake from the dream. But the smile still lingered. I was reminded of the greatness then that made the garbage later so painful, and of what "they" can never take away. It's nice to know you can go back, for a brief visit, and refuel for the battles still ahead. Rock on, Floyd, they can't take it all away.