Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Phil, No Paul - Tour de France Withdrawals

Sleep-in 'till 6, listen to NPR Morning Edition, return emails, just reconnect with the world, but no --- instead I wake at 5 AM and lay there, my brain says rise, stagger to the remote and say good morning to Phil (Liggett) and Paul (Sherwin). As they get settled, telling me what I have heard a dozen times, but somehow I feel hooked like a cycloaddict needing to hear it said one more time, maybe somewhere inside I know I have limited time for a fix, I fill the water pot to boil and get my cuppa Earl Grey tea started. But it's Day 24 of the Tour's 23. It's the morning after. It's the coming down, going cold turkey, slamming on the breaks. It's like dropping a chain a 15% climb, all forward progress ceases, your brain sends a warning - "clip out NOW!" It's Tour de France withdrawals.

Sadly, this has been going on for years, you think I would learn, I would adapt, for God's-sake species go extinct for less flexibility. Has 4 million years of cranial evolution not prepared me for this one Monday morning each late July?

I think what makes it harder is the general death valley of cycling that August is, or historically has been. In the past the Tour of Germany gave me brief reprieve with the mono-a-mono hilly battles between Levi
Leipheimer and effervescent road warrior Jens Voigt. Perhaps this year will be different, I hope, I pray, but staring into my cuppa EG I'm doubtful. I'm not alone. On the Tour's final Sunday I heard Phil say, lamentingly, resolutely, "tomorrow I have no job", and while the pro race calender has a couple of things for Phil (and Paul) to do - a reborn Tour of Ireland, Vuelta Espana, World Championships, and the most poetic, graceful finish of the season in any sport, "the Race of the Falling Leaves" - Giro di Lombardia.

The cuppa EG stares back...

It's like an annual death in the family - and the family is already squabbling; Maillot jaune victor Contidor is dissing Lance, "My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero,"
(careful skinny-legged little boy, don't pull the tiger's tail); LA shrugs when asked about Conti, too busy forming a new team - USPS v4.0; Sastre still complains of no respect and trying to figure out why his Tour went "all pair-shaped" (Conti please take another note: TdF requires a team, yours is upgrading without you to LAv4.0), Cadel sits in the corner pouting; Menchov is still trying to reverse the Invisible-man Giro potion he swallowed in May; but these brats are my family of wheeled wonders and I love them one-n-all. The thought of waiting another year for this family reunion is killing me.

The final obit is written later in the morning when I return the box to Comcast - still set on Versus where it began 23 days earlier when the tech guy installed; I only awaken the tv-beast for the three weeks of the Tour, otherwise it's my December through January DVD training partner. The Comcast clerk doesn't even ask why it's coming back, there must be a note on my file, "don't ask".

Phil, good luck on the resume, despite getting older, with your experience there will be openings, otherwise swing by for a cuppa.

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