Staying in at this time of year is preferable to going out. Let me explain why:-
Is it because of the shitty weather of recent years? Especially in Blighty.
Nope, it’s because for these 3 weeks a year my closet roadie persona comes to the fore. Furthermore, it’s the ultimate no show excuse during the aforementioned shitty weather -
“Sorry guys, I can’t do tonight’s ride because I’m watching the highlights of le Tour on the telly - it’s stage 3 to (insert random place), innit, can’t miss that now, can I?! ” And, I’m not alone, it has become the only acceptable ride ‘no show’ excuse up and down the country. An excuse stretched acceptably further by all of us on particular spectator faves like Alpe D’Huez.
And, yes, we’ve all tried the following to no avail - taping the pre-recorded highlights on ITV- 4, then watching them back later on, post local ride, isn’t the same as watching the pre-recorded highlights, is it?! Bonkers as this may sound! There’s obviously some deep psychological reason for this around conditioning and the like, but I have a life and can’t be bothered to explore this.
The watching of Le Tour de France highlights is also a ‘meeting halfway’ in so many domestic arguments. Here’s my particular favourite:
Me: “Darling, I’m happy to pay for SKY/Freeview/Virgin so you can watch the current ‘desperately wanting to be the world’s next sub-famous person.’ It’s no worries, as you know that I love you.” Rough translation - My only hope or (steady now, they may be reading this!) ‘expectation’ within this is that I’m ‘allowed’ (chicken, me? look in the mirror wise guy!) to watch the Tour de France highlights for 3 weeks a year in return.
They who must ordinarily be obeyed: “THREE WEEKS?”
Me: “Sure, three weeks in 52 weeks, darling…”
They who must ordinarily be obeyed: ”Oh, ok, I suppose, but if there’s a ‘mega falls from grace celebrityish reality show, especially those where they get ultra fat and bankrupt, but redeem themselves through clean living and ever so non-invasive cosmetic surgery’ that clashes with le Tour highlights then I’ll get a look in, won’t I?”
Me: “Sure” (said with hope that they won’t remember this part of the pre-arrangement. But, if your partner is female you’re fecked, as we all know that they’re particularly good with ‘facts’ and ‘dates’ that were ‘agreed upon’ at some stage in the past).
So, getting back on subject, it’s le Tour time and, as such, I am completely besotted once again. Perfectly and happily entranced as an armchair fan.
Sod Deadenders and Big Bother, le Tour is the ultimate soap opera. It has everything we look for from this format, including:
‘Heroes’ – especially from the new blood e.g. Mark Cavendish sprint superhero.
to ‘Villains’ – naughty drug cheats, waiting to be ‘discovered,’ or not, with pantomime audience anticipation/expectation of “oh yes he is,” to “oh no he’s not…”
Then there are the ‘Reformed villains’ – all of us trying to decide if we’ll give them another go, some of us hoping that they’re now ‘clean,’ as we’ve been secretly rooting for them to realize their potential/ or overcome their problems…
Then there are the ‘walk on parts’ – from dogs, literally walking into the road (unintentionally or intentionally?) and causing havoc, especially to carbon wheels; locals in salutation to their villages and the super hero cyclists; lone idiotic gendarmes stepping in the way of riders to take ‘photos;’ and galloping horses, always there merrily dashing across newly cut fields.
Cycling and the assorted dramatis personae is fascinating viewing. What a shame then that there was no mainstream TV coverage of the Athertons, Mr. Peat, and Mr. Bryceland conquering all at the recent Worlds, then.