Thursday, June 21, 2007

OCD'n on the OTB

After days of hand-wringing over amazon's ever-shifting ship dates, I decided to put a copy of the Floyd Landis book on reserve at my "local" Borders. I figured, at least I can get it on the 26th if amazon really was going to push shipping back to July. Lo and behold, I get the e-mail saying the book is there at Borders, ready and waiting for me to pick it up. I call, and ask the guy at least five times if he's sure I can pick it up today. (Borders is almost an hour and a half away for us boonie-folk, I need guarantees.) He says yes, he's looking at it, it'll be right there behind the counter for me. I finish out my work day, and off I go to the city. Yes, I'm avoiding the title, Positively False - I hate it, and I'm not in love with the cover art. I always thought One Tough Bitch would be the perfect title, but I guess Arlene wouldn't want that on the coffee table. But the hard cover, underneath the jacket, is pure yellow, you go Floyd!

I'm just about to turn into the mall, when NPR is doing a little satire about how it will be when Barry Bonds breaks the home run record. It's clever enough, but I'm flexing my stomach muscles, waiting for the punch, I know it's coming. And sure enough, their big finish - Floyd Landis presides over the on-field ceremony, in lieu of the Commissioner. You know, even if Floyd actually doped that would sting. As it is, it burns. And I know it shouldn't, it's just people being stupid, but it's not right, they shouldn't be in the same sentence. Anyway, not the point of the story, so I'll move on. But suffice it to say it left me even more primed.

Fair warning: if you want to have your own personal first experience with this book, read no further. And if you're averse to overwrought sentimental goo, well, what are you doing here in the first place? I walk into Borders, with plans to hit the restroom first (did I mention it was a long drive?). But along the way I have to check the new release stacks, see if the book is actually sitting out there, not just hiding behind the counter. (I'm still not convinced they're going to give me this book, though I'm sure I'm not leaving the store without it.) And there it is, tidy little stack. Who knew? Of course I pick it up immediately and start paging through. And the tears start coming. Not actually streaming down my face, but a hard blink could get that going at any moment.

The pictures bring actual sniffles, right alongside laughs (the captions are a hoot). The earnest young boy, the Postal days, with Amber, with Ryan (please, tear my heart right out of my chest, I don't need it), with a walker last fall. And then I notice the photo credits, and my heart breaks just a little more, because it's all of these precious family moments. The final photo just about brought me to my knees - Floyd in yellow on the stage podium, flanked by Hinault and Merckx, and looking straight at Amber, who is taking the picture. I manage to read a few more passages, then realize I really do have to make that pit stop, now also to compose myself a bit.

I realize I'm not going to make it to the movies as planned (hey, we don't get to the city often, it's usually best to multi-task). No way I'll be able to forget about the book and enjoy the movie. I wander around, pick up a CD, then check out and get my reserved copy. And stand in the foyer of the store and read it. And go sit in my car and read it. I'm blind in one eye, so I'm already vehicular-ly challenged, thus I resist the urge to read it while driving home. Not that I actually considered it, of course, but I had to laugh as the thought passed through my mind. I glance over to it, though, making sure it's still there on the long drive home.

Anyone who shrugs this book off as ho-hum boilerplate has no soul. Er, I mean to say, perhaps has interests other than cycling. You see, we who are obsessed always want more, and are enthralled by every new detail. We watch at least six hours of the Tour a day in July. We see our boys ride, eat, drink, warm-up, cool-down - if the cameras aren't paying attention, we even see them pee occasionally. But we want it all - we want to know what they were saying to each other, at breakfast, during the stage, on the bus, at dinner, over booze and Johnny Cash. We want to hear about the endearing Amber-Floyd courtship - when two OTBs collide. We want to hear about the lean days, the training days, the heartbreak days, the wear-a-suit days, the hometown love. You know, we heard a lot about Floyd's "choice of company" after The Call. But take a look beyond that, and you see a pretty extraordinary group of people that Floyd chose and that chose Floyd - from his parents, to Amber, and right on down - strong, straightforward, take-no-crap people who know what's what.

Alright, now I have to actually go read the thing cover to cover, but I think I can safely say this so far - you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cringe (Will), you'll wince (Lance), you'll cheer, you'll hiss (guess who), you'll see TBV immortalized in print, and generally satisfy your itch. I don't know if this book will make it beyond the choir, but I certainly hope so, because folks could learn a thing or two, and wouldn't that be refreshing.


cat2bike said...

Julie, Julie, Julie!!!! What an AWESOME POST! OMG, I'm tearing up just reading YOU!!!!! I hope some people besides cycling fans read this book. (Maybe the Mennonites and the Amish, will buy it too!). I think your title is MUCH better! But you are right, Arlene and Paul would not approved! Amazon is usually pretty good, 2-3 days MAX; but I've got an email from Borders sitting in my email inbox, with 20% coupon...and I'm off tomorrow....have some appts, but when I finish I could stop by my local Borders(which is 10-15min away. You can always use an extra copy, to loan out! One way to get others to read it!!

Oh, and it is amazing how it kicks in the gut, to hear Floyd mentioned in the same breath as some of these athletes!


strbuk said...

Great post Julie, I had no idea that we (TBV) were anywhere in the book, not that that is important. :-) I am waiting to pick up my copy at the book signing in Lancaster next week, so I appreciate the sneak peak you gave me!


Anonymous said...

Another great post, Julie! I'm looking forward to your views after you get the book finished.

I remain very frustrated with Amazon and might have to check out Borders here. I ordered early so I could get it as soon as possible - but Amazon obviously has other plans. I don't think I can wait for them!

BTW, loved the incorporation of OTB!