Saturday, July 7, 2012

The First Sign Of First Light.

pic c/o Damoh, who had a better seat than me.

Stage Seven - Tomblaine to Le Planche des Belle Filles

There's this Bukowski poem I like. Well, to be fair there are a few. But I'm not one of those Bukowski guys, those guys who totally buy into the Bukowski schtick, who actually believe his 'drink your way to the truth' bullshit. I actually read other poets, you know? But right now the Bukowski poem I'm thinking of is called Dow Average Down, and is from Play The Piano Drunk Like A Percussion Instrument Until The Fingers Begin To Bleed A Bit. I'm thinking about it because of this stanza:

"you find yourself
alone again in your
bedroom grabbing your
guts and saying, o, shit
no, not again."

In the poem he's describing the process of falling out of love. Rereading it now I'm annoyed by the narcissism - those who know me will suggest ironically so - but that stanza continues to jump out at me. I think he's got it backwards, though. For me, the way out of a relationship is pretty simple - sure, it hurts, but it's a familiar pain, and by my age you pretty much know how to deal with both the pain and the suddenly acute practical needs of being alone again. It's the way into the relationship that is scary as all hell. There's a reason why they call it 'falling' in love and not 'cruising along and waking up one morning' in love. Sure, there's excitement and anticipation, but there's also crashing uncertainties, so many plummeting variables, all those jinxes to remove. It's never the right time, it's never the right person, there's always something that could and probably will go wrong. And so you find yourself alone again in your bedroom...

Last night was the first real hill stage of the tour, and it lived up to every expectation. Early on Jelmer had pontificated that Cadel would win. I was feeling a little expansive by that time, plus I was on my "I know way more about cycling than you do" high horse (horse subheading: "Don't you know I write a blog?"), so I offered to bet him five hundred dollars that Cadel would not win today's stage. I figured that it was too early in the race for him to be blowing himself apart, that he'd conserve his energies for the more serious climbs in the weeks to come. And when Sky went to the front and started blowing it apart I felt pretty good about my wager. Cadel was hanging in there, sure, but I was certain that he was just mitigating any potential time losses, that he would simply mark Wiggins until they cross the line.

But I forgot I was dealing with the new Cadel, the post-world-championships Cadel, the Cadel who throws it down and leaves nothing on the road. Even though there were two of the best climbers in the world with him - Wiggins and Froome - who also happened to be on the same team - he had a crack. Jelmer reminded me of my bet. KO reminded me of my bet. Folks around standing around us in the bar asked about the bet, and were filled in on the finer details. But I wasn't worried. There were two riders from Sky there! Surely they were going to 1-2 him, left jab to right hook for the knockout blow. Froome chases Evans and bridges across. I expect Wiggins to counter - right hook for the knockout blow - but Froome keeps on jabbing away and eventually scores enough points on them both. It's a huge move, but both Evans and Wiggins have over a minute on him in the GC, so they let him take the stage.

I reckon at the start of the stage Evans would've probably been aware that this was pretty much how it was going to pan out, that Sky would get on the front and shell everyone, that he'd be once again left without teammates in the mountains and would have to fend for himself. It's how he won The Tour last year. He probably knew what he was in for. He probably felt excitement and anticipation, but was probably also totally petrified. Before the stage he was probably in the team bus, grabbing his guts and saying, o, shit no, not again.

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