Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Hate These Songs.

Stage Eight - Belfort to Porrentruy.

What I didn't mention yesterday is that it was a late one, that Sime and I were still being mean to the general population at 4am, despite the fact that I was due in Castlemaine for my nephew's 1st birthday party at midday. Sometimes it's nice to make the writing about the riding, rather than me. But when I pulled into my sister's driveway it was definitely all about me.

I play a weird role in my family, especially the extended family. By time my old man was thirty three he'd had four children, he and my ma owned a house, were known and respected in the community. My sister, older than me, started a little later, but still has a growing family, a home in the country, a husband with a good job. Their friends, of course, vaguely follow suit. While they're not Today Tonight fans, and are unlikely to call me homophobic epithets, they do view me with a bemused interest which I play up with relish. I tell stories about late nights and regret, vaguely hinting at irresponsible dalliances and playing up my reliance on next-day coffee. It's kinda fun, and I feel like I'm providing a valuable service.

When the time comes to drive home, however, the suffering become real, and I wonder if I'm going to be able to survive the two hours without dozing off. I call Jamesy, I text folks, I eat lots of fruit, but nothing is working. Eventually I entertain myself by making a soul playlist on the iPod, and that gets me home.

When I come barging in through the door Hurley is there. I drop my stuff and demand we go out for dinner at once. In a few minutes we're at Tiba's again. Somehow we always end up there on a Sunday night, and somehow we're always totally fucking wrecked. We spend a lot of time rehashing the events of the weekend, but also equal amounts of time staring at the walls. When the food comes we eat ravenously, and it seems to revitalize us somehow, because once we have returned home we are equal parts hilarious and ridiculous.

The problem with sleep deprivation, however, is that the pendulum swings hard. By the time we get to Domestique I'm freaking wrecked, slumped in my seat and not speaking to anyone. I'm on the internet a lot, and a chain of events is being set in place that I'm inclined to follow through. Sarah Kizuk and I have been emailing back and forth a lot lately, and she finishes her email with "come fucking visit me." It comes off like an order, not an invitation. She's in St John's, Newfoundland, a place I never made it to when I was living in Quebec, but always kinda wanted to. Plus, she's an old friend, has known me through a lot of crap, and is probably the most sensitive and intuitive person I know. The idea of sitting up with her for the rest of the night drinking weird tea, then walking down to the harbour in the morning and watching icebergs drift by, plants itself in my heart and begins to take root.

Seemingly minutes later Leith posts on Facebook that his flight home from Hobart has been delayed, and asks if anyone is still awake to do an airport run to pick up him and Grover at 2.15. I do some quick math and figure out that the stage is going to finish around 1.30, and add in that it takes about half an hour to get to the airport. My hand goes up. It's going to be another late night.

It's a freaking great stage - watching the best cyclists in the world roll turns together like it's a handicap race is incredible, and a sight rarely seen in pro cycling - but I'm grumpy and belligerent, and keep yelling out for them to put the tennis on. Of course, when they do flip over in the ads, the tennis has been rained out. We go back to the cycling and FDJ's Thibault Pinot has stayed away solo. The footage of Marc Madiot in the team car, screaming at his young charge, is the highlight of the night.

On the way out to the airport I realize that I the credit card in my pocket probably has enough left on it to get me to Toronto. From there it's an easy bus ride to Montreal, where I still know a bunch of people. A day there and then I'd be once again standing on the side of the Trans-Canada, thumbing rides out to the edge of the Atlantic. The roots grow a little deeper.

As I walk through the sliding doors Leith and Grover are there walking towards me. I don't have a second to think about Newfoundland, Sarah K, weird oat tea or icebergs. They dump a box of leftover records in my arms and I toss Leith the keys.

It seems that I wasn't the only one feeling belligerent, however. In the post stage press conference Brad Wiggins, perhaps a little tired and definitely a little fed up, takes aim at the folks raising questions about the legitimacy of his performance. In five minutes he drops both the F and the C words. You can see the full quote here. Sure, it's probably bad for the sponsors, and Team Sky's PR machine will be in overdrive tonight, but if I ever see the guy, I'm going to totally high five him.

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