Thursday, July 12, 2007

TdF Stage 5: Piece O' My Heart

This is where I perhaps would fail as a professional Tour blogger. Watching and talking about the Tour is not a game or idle entertainment to me. I can't detach myself and talk blithely about Vino's ass looking fit as it hangs out of his shorts, raw and bloody. This sport, these riders, they're in my heart and soul. I broke out into a cold sweat the first two times I experienced the stage (following online live, and then watching the morning show on disc, even though I already knew what happened). I fared slightly better watching the evening show, but the heart was still pumping. Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much; I would get more sleep and my arteries wouldn't be shredded on a day like today. But on the other hand, I think - how can you not get attached, how can you not live and die with these guys, what would be the point?

Being so attached, I can be exhilarated for Sylvain Chavanel, claiming the mountains jersey in style. Good karma coming back to reward him, for being Lance's final victim on Luz-Ardiden, and for his gracious patience in not taking the jersey yesterday.

I can cry right along with Erik Zabel during his emotional podium ceremony to get the sprinter's jersey. (Hope you caught it on the P&P show, because primetime didn't show it, in a serious lapse in judgment if you ask me, but sadly, they never do.) As he explained afterwards, he thought his career might be over after the EPO confession, and every day racing now is a blessing, let alone a day on the podium.

I can go on a roller coaster for Team Discovery, as I get excited for Levi when I see Sergio Paulinho looking so sharp at the front of the peloton. And gasp when I hear about Benjamin Noval crashing through a team car rear window, and riding 8 kilometers with deep cuts in his armpit and chin.

I can cheer for the jury's decision to allow Geoffroy Lequatre to continue tomorrow. He's the one that wiped out in the feed zone, and ended up coming in almost 45 minutes after the finish, normally outside the time cutoff. Let's hope he can continue.

I can laugh with great affection as the Puppy almost takes out the Bear. (The first being my term of endearment, the latter apparently CSC's.) Yaroslav Popovych took one of his typical flyers, but the descent was dicey and he went off into the grass. Fabian Cancellara had him in his sights, so much so that he followed him right off the road. A brief excursion, though, and all was well.

And, I can cry, writhe, and fuss over Andreas Kloden and Alexandre Vinokourov as they struggle to even stay in the race, let alone contend for it. Kloden did indeed fracture his coccyx and is questionable to start tomorrow. No word yet on Vino. His troubled ankle will be a distant memory now. Even without injury, a rider's system is taken down to the bare bones (literally) over the course of the Tour. How overloaded will Vino's be if it also has to try and mend all of those injuries, one wonders if it can hold up. Quite moving to see ex-teammate Bernhard Eisel looking after Vino in the final kilometers, several times putting a hand on his back, talking to him.

On the lighter side, Bob and Al win the prize today, they actually assessed the Kloden crash better than Phil and Paul! They got that it was serious, Al saw the perhaps offending rock, and they figured out that it was a pain reliever Kloden was getting from the doctor's car, not a spritz on his arm. Bravo, boys.

In honor of Lady Bird's passing, bless her soul, I purposefully took a moment today to stand in the sunshine and enjoy the wildflowers. Always a good idea, but necessary for me during the Tour. It's got my heart and soul, but with a little care perhaps it won't make me lose my mind. :-)


cat2bike said...

Julie, your posts are poetry to me! I feel the same way, deeply emotional invested in these men racing hard and fast, with taking chances on a bicycle; most people wouldn't do in a vehicle!

"Hell on Wheels", the best Tour movie and the beginning of my love for Erik and Rolf. I end up in tears every time!


Amy B said...

Shoot Julie...YOU'RE making me teary. Beautiful as usual girl :)

Anonymous said...

Gosh Julie, that was great! I'm not surprised, just happy to read it. For years & years, I knew NO ONE who shared my passion for the TDF. I was teased relentlessly by the unenlighted AND benighted, but I didn't care. Over the years, I've refused dates, broken up with guys because of, & even turned up my nose at free vacation trips during, all so I could endulge my solitary passion. And it was difficult in those days, as I only got to see the weekend CBS shows & of course, there were no internet cycling sites, let alone blogs! It's really only been in the last 7 years, that I've really learned that much about the sport of pro-cycling & the true skill & strategy involved. Still, compared to you, Sara & Cathy, I am but a diletettante.

And I can't believe I'm taking up for him yet again (!), as my own bouts of disenchantment are widely known ;), but try to give MD a leeetle slack. He's an American guy, an ex-jock even, & to be too "gushy/distressed" over athletic injury would "kick him out of the club" - that "guy's-guy" club to which so many American jock guys seem to belong. Where any show of distraught-type emotions are a sign of weakness & are treated with disdain. I have always thought it interesting that European men seem to be much more expressive & emotive with their feelings. If you've read a lot of the pre-Tour stuff on Vino (knowing you, you have ;), most of the American MALE writers all considered Vino's emotionalism as a negative & a hamper to his TDF aspirations. I thought it could be a strength, much as Lance's inner angry core was his.

BTW, I totally agreed the other day when MD wrote how Riis came out "on his own" about his doping. I was "WHAT?!!" But, I promised myself that during the Tour, I would TRY to be good, so didn't say anything this time. Still, I haven't been able to resist little jabs at Austin in some of my comments there. I'm surprised YOU don't have a voo-doo doll of AM somewhere... ;)

You REALLY should think about going to the Tour with Sara & Cathy next year as bonafide credentialed journalists. I'm envisioning a GROUP blog site with all of your reports daily. And photos, video clips,etc. I'm getting excited already. (But, pleeeze promise that I can PRINT OUT the posts!).I have looooong believed more women would fall in love with this sport if it was explained to them by "their own". I mean, what's not to love?!

Keep on watching & writing!

susie b

Julie said...

Susie - actually, this time I wasn't really trying to snark Marty, just pointing out the contrast. I will say that his poetic license with the facts of the race drives me nuts. He misrepresents or omits stuff so it better fits his story, whether it's consciously or not.

I'd think about going to the Tour, but there's that small matter of time and money, fresh out there.