Spandex ya’ll

So not quite as timely as AGMA had hoped after my last post, but an improvement (if I do say so myself…)  Two posts in one month is promising.

But I had a VERY good reason why I am not posting until now….

Regular readers can probably guess.

Maybe.

Or have no clue.

Hints:

  1. AGMA hasn’t been able to travel internationally since March 2020.
  2. It’s July.
  3. The biggest cycling race of the year takes place in July.
  4. The biggest cycling race of the year takes place my very favorite country to visit (think wine, cheese and baguettes.).  The country of Monet, Édith Piaf, and Pepé Le Pew

YES!!

AGMA put my mask on, got on an airplane, and flew across the pond to see my boys in spandex.  

Viva la France!

It was like a religious experience.  

I had a 2 week trip planned in July 2020 to see the last week of the Tour de France plus see some other sights, but we all know how that turned out.  We barricaded ourselves in our homes (other than those who moved from Atlanta to Chicago…) in hopes of keep the contagion sweeping across the globe from landing on us.  It was a time of grave concern for our friends, family and country made worse by the total ineptitude of The Fat Orange Virus in the White House and his enablers. 

The cancellation of a pleasure trip seemed inconsequential given the ever increasing numbers in ICUs and funeral homes.

Fast forward to early June, 2021.  AGMA is healthy and fully vaccinated.  France is opening up to vaccinated American tourists in mid-June.  I’ve been watching European cycling events all spring on my laptop via a VPN (a way to get around geo-restrictions on cycling events.)

AGMA sensed a perfect storm!

I casually say to Hubs, “Would you mind if I went to France in July for a week to watch some of the Tour?” 

“Nope…”

I made my airline reservations that night.

AGMA knows the Delta variant is surging in parts of France.  But I also know that masks are mandatory pretty much in every inside space and on any form of transport there.  Hey – I survived COVID in the US when we had a “president” who wanted us to drink/inject bleach.  I felt confident I would be okay.

And it was wonderful!

Without boring those who don’t really care about the Tour de France (I will never understand you, but I still love you!), my first 2 days were spent in a town – 3 train rides away from CDG airport – called Libourne in the Bordeaux region.  It’s a charming town right on the beautiful Dordogne River, which was quite high and flowing quite fast because of all of the rain in Europe the previous 2 weeks.  Think those horrific, deadly floods in Belgium & the Netherlands.  The theme of high, fast flowing rivers followed me on my trip (both in Paris and Lyon.)

The main shopping street in Libourne
City Hall in Libourne
The very high Saône River in Lyon

Damn climate change.

I was in Libourne for the end of stage 19 and the beginning of stage 20 of the Tour de France.  Because stage 20 was a time trial and riders took off individually with a minute between each rider, I had a wonderful opportunity to see all the riders up close and personal.  I positioned myself near the beginning of the TT and close to one of the broadcasting cameras.  And some of my friends saw me on TV!

You can say you knew AGMA when…

Before all the riders had taken off, I had to hustle to catch my trains back to Paris.  The next day was the stage 21; the ride into Paris. 

On Sunday, July 18th, I went through the vaccination verification check near the Arc de Triomphe to scout a spot to watch the riders do their 8 circuits on the Champs-Élysée.  AGMA found a group of Danish fans who spoke excellent English and I settled in for the 4 hour wait until the riders showed up.

You do some very strange things for love…

Wout van Aert (Belgium) won the stage, Tadej Pogačar (Solvenia) won the yellow jersey (overall winner), the polka dot jersey (best climber), and the white jersey (best young rider). A cycling superstar at 22!

And Mark Cavandish (England), at 36, a sprinter that most people felt was way beyond his prime and the ability compete with the world’s best, won the Green jersey (best sprinter.)  And not only did he snag the Green jersey, but (and this is a WAY BIGGER deal!) tied the record of Eddy Merckx for most stages won EVER in the Tour de France.

I need a cigarette now….

What did AGMA do in France after the TdF you ask?  

I walked.  I walked for 5.5 hours in the Louvre.  I walked for hours all over Paris.  I walked more hours all over Lyon.  Hours and hours.  My new technowonder Alexa Echo watch told me that I averaged 19,000 steps a day for the 7 days I was gone.  Honestly, I didn’t know these stumpy legs had it in them.

And (this is really TMI so look away if you tend to be queasy) AGMA sweated.  Buckets.  It was hot in France.  The heat combined with hours of walking outside in the sun exacerbated by being in buildings that were supposed to be air conditioned, but…ummm…not really.  Buckets.  

It was kinda gross.

In Lyon, which is a WONDERFUL city by the way, AGMA had a COVID test per US requirements to go home.  I was negative so I had to leave the next day.

But the cherry on top of the trip was the flight home.  It was a Air France direct flight from Paris to Chicago.  And it was nearly empty. 

E.M.P.T.Y.

I was in the first cabin in economy (being the value traveler that I am.) There were 78 seats in the cabin.  There were 14 people in the cabin.  AGMA became the undisputed queen of row 20, and was able to lie totally flat to nap on the 4 middle seats.   And they gave me champagne with dinner and cognac after dinner.  

The perfect way to end a most unusual, exhausting, amazing, sweaty trip!

Viva la France!

H-E-L-L Ohhhhh

11.10 Bicycle Hell (from "Puck")
Source: Library of Congress
Format: RGB tiffAGMA’s going to hell.

I’ve made that declaration in the past, but now I’m sure of it…

All thanks to that once a year sporting event that to me, is like catnip to a cat. Like an empty New Jersey public beach to Chris Christie on the 4th of July. Like a Mar a Lago chocolate cake to tRump.

In other words…totally irresistible no matter how fat you are.

I’m speaking, of course, of my totally inexplicable obsession with men’s elite cycling, espeically the Tour de France.

This year, AGMA has three TdF fantasy teams. I spent hours pouring over rider data on procyclingstats.com.

I agonized over whether I should have more GC riders than sprinters. Or more sprinters than punchy Classics riders. Or visa versa? Should I have a time trial specialist? Should I look for a ‘dark horse’ rider to emerge out of the peloton to do great things?

It was harrowing.

But the real trouble started when I shelled out $39.99 for NBC Sports Gold Cycling coverage. Live streaming coverage to your phone, laptop or tablet, unlimited replays, special features and over 30 hours of extra coverage. And the live streaming includes both commercial free coverage with some Thunder from Down Under commentators or the NBCSN coverage with commercials.

“Why would anybody choose the streaming coverage with commercials over commercial free?”, you ask?

Oh dear ones, you have so much to learn…

Because TdF announcing royalty, the Harry Caray and Vin Scully of cycling, Phil Liggett (73) and Paul Sherwen (61) are announcing on NBCSN. They do the commercial world wide English language coverage (except in Australia I guess) and are cycling announcing icons.

Plus you get to hear the NBC team of Bobke Roll, Christian Vande Velde, Steve Porino, Steve Schlanger and, my favorite retired cyclist of all time, Jens Voigt.

Be still my heart.

Numerous times in the past several weeks, AGMA’s had my cell phone propped up on the outside of our glass shower enclosure while the bluetooth speaker blasts Phil and Paul (and all of the commercials.)  I did this today as a matter of fact. God forbid I miss any of the action while I’m showering.

But this is a huge improvement over past years when I tried to shower and get ready in the morning during the commercial breaks.

We’ve never, ever had a TV in our bedroom so I would have to run up and down the stairs during the commercials. Round about 4 days into the race, AGMA moved my toiletries and hairdryer down to our 1st floor powder room so I could finish getting ready within ear shot of the race call.

But no more.

AGMA’s free to go where I want to do what I want and not miss a minute of the action as long as I have my phone.  I love technology!

I had a MRI scheduled a few weeks ago. I checked in, then settled into a comfy seat in the waiting room with my phone and earbuds. Based on past experience, I thought I had a good 20 minute wait at least before they called me back.  They called AGMA back 5 minutes later.

Seriously?

But the worst, and the reason I’m pretty sure I’m doomed, is that I’ve been watching the Tour in church. During mass.

H-E-L-L

I have my muted phone on the bench beside me sort of covered up with my sweater. But I only glance over a few times to see where things stand. As I told a friend, “I only watch during the Psalm singing and the offering hymn. Nothing’s really happening then anyway.” He burst out laughing.

H-E-L-L

But as Luther Ingram sang, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” And I DO love my boys in spandex!

Sadly, my fantasy teams are not doing well. A combination of riders dropping out of the Tour for various reasons and just plain stupid team selections have got me in the middle of the pack in most of my leagues. Not bad, but not the top 5% finish AGMA had last year in the Velogames league.

First world problem.

Stage 16 went off today. Australian Michael “Bling” Matthews won with a brilliant Team Sunweb plan and fabulous team support. He’s also very close to taking the Green Jersey away from German Marcel Kittel.

I can hear you now.

ZZZZzzzz….

But, mercifully for you, it’s all over soon.

Sunday is Stage 21. They finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris. It’ll be so exciting! It always is.

Then Monday. Monday. Monday starts PTDFM (post-Tour de France malaise)

Back to the present. Back to the news. Back to reality.

And back down the rabbit hole with the Family Von Trump.

H-E-L-L

The lulumumu

mumu2

A couple of months ago an article somebody shared on Facebook screamed “Read me!” Who was I to argue with the vast knowledge and sage wisdom of Facebook?  But I’m glad I read it.  I discovered that the latest casual fashion trend for women is wearing workout-type clothes to do shopping, run errands, and general “stuff”.

BINGO!!

Finally the rest of the world is coming around to my notion of fashion where the stretchy waistband is king!  Long live Spandex!

Then I read the rest of the article.  You know there had to be a “rest of the article”.  It’s just not any workout-type clothes that women are tooling around in.  It’s high fashion, high price tag-type designer workout clothes.  Your lululemons, Alo Yogas, Bia Brazils…

Major buzz kill.

I like casual clothing.  Ever since I quit my hamster-wheel corporate job nearly ten years ago, I’ve worn pretty much nothing but casual clothes.  Loose fitting, stretchy, comfy clothing.  They give everything a chance to “breathe”, if you know what I mean. It’s healthier.  Tight stuff just doesn’t get enough oxygen to the areas of your body that need it.  Tight stuff can cause issues.  I’m pretty sure there’s no scientific evidence for that.  Let’s just say I have anecdotal evidence.  TMI.

But as much as I love really comfortable, loose clothing,  as God as my witness,  I will never, ever again wear a mumu.  Das ist verboten.  I have bad flashback episodes of women in their 50‘s & 60’s wearing mumu’s when I was growing up in the 1960’s.  It was pretty traumatizing for a young girl.

I sewed a mumu for myself for a tropical themed school dance when I was in 8th grade. In the name of all that’s holy, what was I thinking?  I looked like Shrek covered with a large orange floral tablecloth.  My date was enchanted I’m sure.  Oh – we never went out again…

For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, a mumu is basically yards and yards and yards of usually large floral print fabric with sleeves and a collar.  You can either wear a mumu or go camping with it and use it as a tent.  Think of them as anti-lululemon outfits.

But then again, retro is in style again.  Maybe they could come out with a lulumumu. Slap that little curly-q horseshoe on it and I bet it would sell for big $$.  I hear designers are stealing people’s ideas from Pintrest.  Hmmmm…  If you see the lulumumu in the stores in six months, just remember you heard it on AGMA first.

But I do have a lot of athletic-type clothes because I run.  Will I start wearing them just around for the heck of it?  Probably not.  I’d look pretty goofy.  Every woman pictured wearing the gear on the websites of the designer workout clothing is incredibly fit, young, skinny, relatively flat-chested and looks tall.

To say that this does not fit the AGMA profile would be a gross understatement.  I possess none of these attributes.

But I have a good personality and a cute little donkey, so I got that going for me…