24 July 2016

What I Could Have Done, And What I Did

After you read what you're about to read, you might decide that you won't ever read this blog again.  I understand.

Here goes:  I was in Paris on the last day of the Tour de France.  And I wasn't among the throngs that lined the Champs Elysees for the finish.

Why?, you ask. Well, for one thing I have a general aversion to being in crowds these days.  I have stood along the world's second-most famous thoroughfare (after Broadway in NYC) on two other occasions for the finish of the race.  I have also been on the side of the road, in other parts of France, where other stages of the Tour passed. I just don't get the same thrill about such things that I once did.

For another thing:  I hardly ever attend sporting events anymore.  It's not that I don't like sports:  I once wrote about them for a newspaper.  Rather, I am not crazy about the way many different sports, from baseball to basketball to bicycle racing, have devolved.  Too much is decided, I feel, by drugs and other kinds of technology, compared to events past.

Which brings me to my final point:  This Tour, like the past few, didn't have the storylines  of Tours past.  Even when everyone expected Eddy Mercx, Bernard Hinault or Miguel Indurain to win (as they usually did), they could generate more drama than any of the current riders.

Finally,  I just cannot bear to watch Chris Froome.  I don't have anything against him winning:  He's worked hard and, as far as anybody knows, hasn't used drugs.  But he is the most awkward-looking rider I've ever seen at the front of a major race.  As long as no one can prove he's cheated, I have no problem with his winning the Tour.  But that doesn't mean I have to watch him.

So, after filling myself up at the hotel's breakfast buffet, instead of going to the Tour, I got a (relatively) early start on a gorgeous morning and found myself pedaling streets that were all but deserted--even in places as popular with tourists (or heavily used by delivery drivers) as the Boulevard St. Michel, St. Germain des Pres and Trocadero.  I really felt--to borrow a cliche--that Paris belonged to me.

But, most important of all, I spent the afternoon and early evening with one of my friends, the man she married last year and a friend of theirs who was very friendly toward me.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, Michele and I had not seen each other in a number of years before I saw her last August, in this city.  She was just a few weeks away from marrying the man who is now her husband.  I saw her again in New York in May, with her husband Alec, near the end of their belated honeymoon trip.

An old Italian proverb says that a good meal can keep a person content for a week.  I tend to agree with that.  I'd say the same for a good bike ride or a few other things (some of which can't be mentioned on a PG-13 blog ;-) ).  And, as much as I love good food and writing, as well as cycling, i can't help but to think that nothing can keep me happy longer than a good time with an old friend.


  1. I, too, have an aversion to the modern sports scene. What with the large often poorly behaved crowds,the prominent use of performance enhancing drugs and the general malaise that surrounds the modern high profit sports world, you can count me out. On the other hand, a summer day, cycling the streets of Paris on mostly quiet streets, followed by dinner with good friends and companions,sounds just about perfect...

  2. Jim--It all was just about perfect. If nothing else, I feel better about it than I probably would have felt after standing along the Tour route.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I suspect most of your readers could care less about the Tour. People assume I know all about and follow bike races, which I don't, because they see me riding a "race" bike.
    I'm gonna still read:)

  4. Agree with Chris.

    I've got a feeling that most folks that actually "do" things, rather than "watch" things, tend to get less worked up over things like that. I love riding a bike, and have for pretty much my whole life, but the notion of closely following a bike race on TV just seems so unappealing to me. I may enjoy watching a brief summary, just to see if anything interesting happened, but that's about it. Similarly, if I where in your shoes I may have gone to catch a glimpse of the race (at least one time in my life), but more likely would have done exactly what you did.

    I enjoy living my own experiences more than watching others live theirs.


  5. I cannot imagine a worse day than standing at the side of the road only to discover that those nearby behave like lunatics. One small tour pedaled past where I was staying in France, a few seconds of colourful blur and they were all gone. There is nothing quite like having the streets to yourself...

  6. Chris--I've suspected as much. If people want TdF (or any other race) coverage, they're probably not going to come to this blog.

    Wolf--If I'd never before seen the TdF live, I might have gone to the Champs Elysees. However, I've been there twice before (in 1980 and 2000) and saw stages of the race in other parts of France in other years. Perhaps that's why I didn't have much incentive to go this time.

    Coline--I think that might be one reason why bike racing hasn't caught on in the US and other places. In other sports, you can go to a stadium and see all of the action, non-stop. But, as you say, you spend all day at the side of a road to see only a few seconds of the peloton. And, call me a misanthrope, but I'd rather have streets to myself than to be surrounded by louts.

  7. Chris "Spiderman" Froome...

    Paris: it's like Florence, Rome or Vienna. The best thing to do there is to wonder around and finally realize you REALLY are there.

    This is a test piece. I'm having trouble posting comments. Cause seems to be on this end.


  8. Leo--I have your comment. It's funny: I've been to Paris before, but I still have to pinch myself and tell myself I'm really here!