Friday, June 30, 2006

I say, to the men in tights, "The elastic has snapped."

I like watching men in tights who have shaved their legs sweat together for hours at a time, and Saturday is the start of the biggest show of the year. In France, of course. Hell, I've got a drawer full of tights myself, in bright colors, with nice, long zippers.

Yes, I'm a cycling fan. At times, I'm even a cyclist, although pregnancy has put a damper on the Bradstein Cycling Team training schedule. We both used to ride our bikes to work in the morning, but with Mama's nausea in the first trimester, I started driving her as far into work as possible. I still do so, mostly because it's nice to still travel to work together. She picks up the Metro at that point; it's a short enough ride from there that she wasn't terribly likely to get sick, back when she was prone to. But let's get back to the topic at hand: cycling.

It's that season again, when Papa slumps on the couch for hours at a time, listening to the pleasant drone of Phil "Crazy Legs" Liggett and Paul "Pretty Hair" Sherwen as they call the Tour de France. I can't imagine how hard it is for them to keep up a steady patter when the action consists of a bunch of men riding bikes. For. Four. Hours. Yet, somehow they do it. And somehow I'm fascinated the whole time. I'll even replay particularly gripping or memorable stages. Yes, I'm a geek.

It goes back to idle summer days in my youth, when I would spend hours--all day, really--pedaling up and down the Coast Range between home and the beaches of Half Moon Bay. I would slide the pocket door out of the wall at the end of the kitchen and plot a course on the map that was taped there. The more isolated and winding the road, the better. That meant few or no cars would disturb my reverie, and agony, as I worked my way up to the crest through the oak forests.

It also meant that some of the switchbacks would be nearly vertical and that the surface of the road would be in bad shape at times, but that was part of it--pick your line, learn how to climb, to corner, to stand, then sit, when to alternate. And remember each of those walled-out switchbacks for the descent. What's my line through this one? How do I keep from shooting off the side of the road? How do I adjust if there's a car in back, or in front?

Here in NoVa, I'm limited to riding on flat terrain, but it's still a thrill every time I get on my bike. Perhaps I'll even motivate to finally drag out the trainer and watch le Tour while pedaling frantically to nowhere in my living room. That is my favorite way to do it, but it's exhausting. Did I mention that each day's coverage is four hours long?

So, fair warning here--if I start writing that "Once again, they've stretched the elastic." Which can only truly be followed soon after by, "The elastic has snapped." You'll know why. Usually the effect fades by mid-August. Of course, this year, with 3B's arrival, I may be a bit too tired to care, I might call out "Bridge to engine room--more power. There is no more." even in this year of great scandal.

Then again, if I summon the energy you might just see me refer to 3B as "the little man with the big heart," although I hope to never have to write that he's "an absolute beast of a man." And if 3B's first words, spoken with a Liggett accent, mais oui, are "dancing on the pedals," I'll be such a proud Papa.


  1. No chain! No chain!

    Get out the Kraftwerk and enjoy the race--I'll be thinking of you as I watch out here, a brother in geekdom.

    Spent about half our condo board meeting last night talking about cable vs. satellite and what hookups the building already has.

    But because it's a community sport, I still think I'll be mooching other people's cable for the event, so as not to be considered antisocial.

    5:30 a.m. and I'm on someone else's doorstep in a biker jersey. These people are my friends. Why should I hide from them the passions (O.K., quirks) that make me who I am? "Hey, while I get the show on, would you mind making coffee? How come Shel's not up?"

    Celebrating my inner dork,


  2. Anonymous12:37 PM

    When 3B is born, I'm totally going to buy him a minature "Cutters" bike jersey. How awesome would that be? Gotta go. I think I just found my million dollar idea!

  3. Mike: They're gonna keep callin' us "cutters." To them, it's just a dirty word. To me, it's just somethin' else I never got a chance to be.
    Breaking Away . . . love it, MD!

    Mom: What's the matter?
    Dad: He's shavin'.
    Mom: Well... so what?
    Dad: ...his legs.

    Dad: What are we gonna do about him?
    Mom: I don't know dear. We could always strangle him while he's asleep.

    As for you, B#2, you do things like that, and then you ask why we moved 3,000 miles away? Did I mention that we're getting OLN as a free preview during the first 11 days of the Tour? Have fun storming the neighbors' house.

  4. Yeah, um, so you'll get to watch the first 11 days, and then as soon as they hit the Alps and things get interesting, you have to read about it in the evening wrap-up?

    I'll phone you from my neighbors' place and let you know if there's snow on Alpe d'Huez.

    My favorite day from this year's schedule actually isn't a riding day. It's "Rest Day in Bordeaux," right after the L'Orient stage. Most times rest days are just that: "Rest Day." But when it's in Bordeaux, you have to point out *where* they're resting. Leaves a whole different picture in the fan's mind.

  5. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Seriously are you ZD's alter ego. I know no one else who gets so excited by the Tour de France. Unfourtunately we do not get OLN, so he does not get to watch it.

  6. No worries about OLN, DW. That's why we have the internet. There's the ever-excellent CyclingNews and OLN's site has video clips, if you're on broadband. CN has excellent live text coverage of each stage on their site.

    And, to make my life easier, I added a TdF headline feed to the right-hand column of the blog. It pulls from across the Web; I've seen bylines from CN, BBC, ABC, Yahoo!, and so forth, so it's pretty inclusive.