Yeah – I’m going to write about the Tour de France again. I warned you in my last blog post that you’d hear more about it. Sorry. But ya’ll know that even if you don’t like professional cycling or sports in general, there may be a few things to smile at below…
And I can use “ya’ll” because I live in Georgia.
Today is the first anniversary of a most momentous occasion in my life. One of THE most momentous occasions of my life. It ranks right up there with my wedding day, the birth of my two children and the time I got to see “Dancing With The Stars” live. But probably not in that order…
A year ago today, I stepped off a train in Grenoble, France. I had a bag full of American flags and custom t-shits, a digital camera full of pixels waiting to be pixelated, and visions of rotating road bike wheels and cyclists in spandex in my head. I was on a pilgrimage. I was excited beyond words. I was going to see the Tour de France!
My roommate during this adventure was a delightful 36 year old woman from Australia who didn’t mind rooming with a woman old enough to be her mother. Easily. Actually, there were quite a few Aussies in our tour group. Australians are wild and crazy cycling fans. They dress up in crazy hats and wave very large Australia flags. They have blow up kangaroos and blow up guitars. They like to drink beer before, during and after the race. Of course, I hung out with them instead of the Americans. Duh.
Before I left the USA, I had custom t-shirts made up to take with me. The first one cheered on the American cyclists. It had all their names listed on the front and on the back it said “Born in the USA”. The second one said “I (heart) le Tour de France 2013” on the front and “Please sign here” in French on the back. I had fellow travelers and strangers by the side of the road sign it as a keepsake. The third one, my favorite – see above – said “Keep Calm and Shut Up Legs” in honor of my cycling hero and huge cycling fan favorite, Jens Voigt. “Shut up legs” is his famous – amoung cycling fans – catch phrase. The back said “Jens Y’all”. Yeah…Georgia.
I wish I could say I was making this up, but sadly it’s all true. My name is Aging Gracefully My Ass, I have no life, and I’m a uber geek.
There are 21 Stages (cycling days) to the Tour. Our first big day watching the Tour live and in person was on Stage 17, a time trial stage. Normally, at the end of a “regular” racing stage, the cyclists go to a restricted area with their team buses that’s off-limits to the general public. General public like me. Bummer. But if you have lots and lots of money then it’s possible to get what they call “VIP Access”. No $$=no access. Bummer.
Without going into detail that’s boring – but it’s probably too late – under the right conditions, a time trial stage can give you unrestricted, uncensored access to these incredible world class athletes. It’s like hanging out with the German team right after the World Cup or chilling in the locker room with the winning team at the Super Bowl or being back stage during “Dancing With The Stars”. Like “you can see the glitter on their sequins” access. Serious.
We had the right conditions last year.
And that’s when this late middle age cycling fan’s dreams came true… I saw some of my very favorite elite professional cyclists up close and personal. Like “you could smell their sweat” up close and personal. Like “get an autograph and a hug” up close and personal. Like “have a conversation with Brent Bookwalter” up close and personal. At this point, my experience was getting close to exceeding that of my wedding, the birth of my children AND “Dancing With The Stars”.
The scales tipped and I went over the edge of “best experience ever” when I met The Jensie (Jens Voigt’s nickname.) He signed my “Keep Calm and Shut Up Legs” t-shirt. While I was wearing it. I think he may be my “senior crush”. He was the oldest cyclist in the Tour last year at the ripe old age of 41. He’s the oldest cyclist in this year’s Tour. I’m old enough to be his mother. Okay – a very young mother but still… Does this make me a cougar?
Okay, this post is getting too long and there are still LOTS of good stories to tell. One more post maybe…? It’ll be the last, I promise.
Batsh*t Crazy Part III – coming soon to a WordPress blog near you!