07/18/02- ALL PACKED AND READY TO GO,
but had to get in the regular Tuesday/Thursday ride first! Todd
Norwood, Ueyn Block and Bob (first time with us) in attendance. As is
usually the case, we don't settle for the new guy riding his/her usual time
up the hill... we go for their personal best! And we got it, as Bob
shaved over a minute and a half off his time up the hill. If he keeps
doing that for the next couple of weeks, he'll be in the TDF in no time!
07/19/02- NOW IN SWITZERLAND,
shortly to be in France! This is one of those never-ending days,
starting Thursday morning at 7:05am, when I got up for my usual
Tues/Thursday ride up King's Mountain, then down to the shop for a couple
hours, then a flight first to Amsterdam and then Geneva. It's 12:18pm
Friday back home (10:18pm here in Switzerland), so we're up to 29 hours so
far, with probably an hour or two yet to be tacked on. Thank goodness
it's not an early morning tomorrow! And were there any other cyclists
heading to France? Uh, yeah, just a few! Including Mike & Karen
Podgorski, who were on the same flight out to Amsterdam, where they
transferred to a flight to Lyon, for a couple weeks of cycling in France and
07/20/02- DON'T YOU WANT THE CHEESE FIRST?
Try as I do, I cannot help but encounter an occasional clash with French
culture. I'm really trying hard to fit in, even learning a few bits &
pieces of French (for example, when riding with a group and there's a car
behind, instead of yelling "Car Back!" and telegraphing to all the
world that you're a foreigner, try "Voiture a derriere." Of course, I
have no idea if any French cyclist would ever say such a thing...).
OK, back to the story. We're eating dinner at a very
nice restaurant in Grenoble, where we probably already got off to a bad
start when we moved the tables out of the sun and into a shady section.
It was about 90 degrees outside and, for some reason, they set up our party
outside (lots of air-conditioned tables inside that we empty) and in the
sun. OK, maybe that was our first act as ugly Americans, but from
where I (literally) sat, it just seemed to make good sense and saved them
from having to do it themselves.
Excellent food, many courses, and not quite the typical
euro experience of half an hour between courses. After finishing with
dinner (and some nondescript wine; I don't think they were wasting their
good stuff on us) it's time for dessert, right? And it's a semi-formal
serve-yourself thing (yeah, I know, there's a regular word for that sort of
thing but my mind still isn't working on all cylinders) (Buffet! Yes,
that's the word!).
So I have them set me up with what looks like an excellent
chocolate mouse sort of thing, along with a not-quite-lemon-meringue
pie. I bring it back to my table, I'm about to try it, and then the
waitress instantly sets upon me and asks "Don't you want some cheese first?"
To be truthful, I was wondering where the Fromage was (cheese in French, and I
was mildly disappointed that she thought so little of my cultural assets
that she'd call it "cheese" instead) (but of course I do acknowledge that
her sizing up of such assets wasn't really out of line with reality!).
So, of course I want my Fromage. Who wouldn't? How can
you properly prepare the palette for dessert if you haven't yet had your Fromage? She explains that she just needs to clear the tables, bring
some new settings, and all will be well (that's her, aka French Minister of
Culture, at the right of the photo above).
She didn't tell me what day that would be! Apparently, I had been chosen to punish for the sins of my
group. Everybody else was happily tasting the various desserts,
without benefit of Fromage, and without any nasty glares (or at least
weren't paying attention to them) from the waiters & waitresses. All
except me. It was maybe 15 minutes before she finally came back and
took away the plates and brought some new silverware, all
without benefit of a single word (like, for example, where I would find the
cheese, er, I mean Fromage). I finally screw up enough courage to go
ask inside where the Fromage is to be found and, sure enough, there it is
hidden underneath a colorful cloth. And, fortunately, a very helpful
attendant to explain that "You must try our local cheeses!" As
if, looking at maybe 15 different cheeses of various colors and shapes, I
would have any idea which were local and which were not. He did set me
up with three very fine cheeses, along with some not-very-interesting nut
bread, and finally, long after everyone else had finished their dessert, I
enjoyed a most excellent chocolat mousse and lemon not-quite-meringue pie.
PRIOR TO THIS WE PRACTICED OUR
ROUNDABOUT MANEUVERS on our bikes. Got in a short bike
ride this afternoon, but,
unfortunately, somebody decided it would be a good idea to map out a route
ahead of time. Sounds like a reasonable idea, except that our map
didn't quite square up with the roads we encountered. Would have been
much easier just to head thataway, towards that first big mountain, make a
left at the bottom, ride along the valley a way and then take another left
and eventually wind our way back on a different road. It's not really
rocket science. But with a pretty large group they felt a need to try
and organize it so people wouldn't get lost etc. Right. At one
point, we (all 30 of us) ended up going 1 3/4 trips through a roundabout
until we could figure out which way to go. If there had been video, it
would have ended up on Letterman with a caption like "Failed driver's test,
has not yet mastered basic roundabout."
TOMORROW, VENTOUX! Hopefully. It's become quite warm, in the low-90s, and
Ventoux is just not a very kind mountain. Plus we have a 3.5 hour
drive to get there, and have to ascend and then descend it before they shut
the road down entirely for the race. At this point, I have some doubt
we'll be able to pull the ride off, but we're off in our bus promptly at 7am
tomorrow, so we'll see!
07/21/02 7:14am- ON OUR WAY TO VENTOUX
at local time. Do I need to remind anyone that I'm not a morning
person? We're on the big bus, a double-decker monster that seems to
hang over the edge of the cliffs when you're on a twisty mountain road.
Very cool, but reminds me of why I own a bike shop and don't drive a bus.
It's raining outside and fairly cool, but we're told it will be 90 degrees
and no shade from the sun at Ventoux! And yes, I brought my Ciclomaster HAC-4 bike computer, so we can look at my feeble attempts to
seek revenge on Ventoux and analyze where I went wrong on the climb (I think
it started with getting up at 6:20am). Darn. I thought I was
going to sleep on the 3.5 hour trip to Ventoux, but they're showing Breaking
Away on the video monitors. Oh, and our arrival at Ventoux was
somewhat delayed by this Eddy Merckx guy, who you can see in the photo.
Seems our bus was too big for his entourage to pass.
07/21/02 5:25pm- ON OUR WAY BACK FROM VENTOUX!
A somewhat kinder, gentler Ventoux this time,
as there were no
weather-related issues (aside from it being on the warm side), and nobody to
turn us back. Well, that's not quite true... we passed quite a
number of checkpoints where the Gendarmes were telling us we couldn't go on,
but heck, I don't understand enough French to know what they're saying (am I
supposed to interpret their gesture of waving their palms in front of you as
some sort of sign to stop?), so you just kinda rode around them, just like
many other people. Got almost to the very top this time, but
they had quite the set of barricades and Gendarmes at about 500m to go.
You could hike up a steep, gravel trail to the finish line, but it really
didn't seem all that necessary. I did see quite a few of our customers
French gaffe of the day? Seems I'll
always have at least one. Today, waiting for the racers to arrive
about one-third of the way up Ventoux, I decide to buy a coke from a
roadside vendor. But I packed the wrong money with me... I handed them
a 20 Swiss Franc note, not a 20 Euro note that I'd thought I'd brought.
So, once more, I provide some entertainment to the locals.
07/22/02- ALPE D'HUEZ REDUX.
Today I got to ride up my (so far) favorite French mountain, Alpe d'Huez.
There's something very friendly about it, despite how steep and tall it is.
Haven't had time to go through all the photos and get a new web page up, but
will, possibly later this week, but it might not happen until I get back.
French gaffe of the day? None that I know of involving
me directly, but our fairly-large group of Americans doesn't seem to quite
fit in with the French style of dining. Butter and ice are two things
we take for granted, but life is a bit different here. For example,
you get lots of bread & rolls, but rarely is butter supplied at the same
time. It seems to magically appear much later, when it doesn't seem
terribly relevant to what's on your plate. And I think they take a
perverse joy in making Americans beg for ice. Not a problem for me,
I'm sure there are reasons that ice is scarce, and I'd rather try to fit in
than accentuate whatever differences exist between myself and my French
hosts. I'm gradually picking up on more of what's normal here, and
really trying to fit in. It's not that hard, but some people would
much rather make fun of anything that's different (I'm talking about
Americans, not the French), and, while I think it's interesting to observe
the differences, I don't think it's respectful to make fun of them.
07/23/02- 7:30am- AND WE'RE BACK ON THE BUS.
Did I tell you about the bus? This huge
double-decker jumbo-bus, the type that seems to overhang the cliffs when you
go around corners, the type that, as a cyclist, you just don't want passing
you on an inside corner. The reason that, in those villages where the
buildings come right up to the road, there are a lot of re-worked corners
and even bumpers to keep the damage to a minimum. But it's smooth,
it's got comfortable seats, and, for some, it's even possible to sleep on
Today it takes us to a stage that, we're told,
Lance feels is an important one to win. Beloki is no longer seen as a
threat, but Richard Virenque, the French climber, is coming up fast.
07/23/02- GOT IN SOME NICE RIDING TODAYon the Col d Ornan, scene of the final King of the Mountains sprint
in today's Tour de France stage. Quite a bit of history in the area,
lots of old buildings with signs designating them as a resistance
something-or-other during World War II. Interesting thing about places
like France is that
they have a long, continuous history, very different from the US, where we
have a short modern history, and an entirely separate Native American
history, and no real reconciliation between the two.
High point of the day? Probably meeting the Devil
himself! Yes, that guy on the Tour de France mountain stages who
dresses up as the Devil. Couldn't resist stopping to get a photo with
him, one of the few photos you'll find me in on this website.
07/24/02- SOMETHING I NOTICED YESTERDAYbut forgot to mention.
Seems like there are an awful lot of older fans lining the roads, men &
women in the 45-55 range. It surprised me that there was such an
intense interest in cycling in that age group. Oh. Right.
I'm in that age group! Darn, hate it when that happens.
07/24/02- MY ENCOUNTER WITH AN AGGRESSIVE GENDARMEwas just a bit of a
Col de Madeleine towards the hotel we were watching it from, and was well
aware that, a certain amount of time before the race comes through, they
stop allowing bikes to be ridden through the congested areas. You
never know exactly when this will be, nor do you know how serious they are
(seems like they usually are happy to have you simply go very slow).
So I'm riding down the hill (slowly) and this Gendarme (that's a French cop)
in the opposite lane drives across the road right in front of me, forcing me
off into the ditch. Well, that's a bit dramatic, just the edge of the
road really, but if there had been a ditch, it wouldn't have been
much fun! He then proceeds (in French, of course) to explain that I
shouldn't be riding now, etc etc etc. Of course, I don't speak French,
so I'm calculating in my mind how long to allow him to ramble before I say
"No Francaise." Since I was rather annoyed, I let him go a bit long.
He moves on, I proceed to walk a bit, and then, seeing that it's not so
congested (my opinion, of course) start riding again. Next a
motorcycle Gendarme comes along waving people over. OK fine, back on
foot again (did I ever mention that Speedplay cleats aren't great to walk
in?). A short while later I'm off the bike for good and come across
the meanest, baddest Gendarme of them all... this guy is actually physically
grabbing people on their bikes to stop
them! Yes, it's the guy in the photo.
came across the famous German Telekom Pigs! Couldn't resist snapping a
photo of them, hard to believe they take themselves seriously. I'm
sure they do wonders to enhance the French impression of the German
07/25/02- FINAL DAY OF RIDING IN FRANCE,
and what a day it was! We were hanging out above Cluses for today's
stage, and did a nice ride up one of the unknown Cols (mountains) in the
morning before lunch. The original intent was to ride up one of the
mountains in the stage, but we made a wrong turn, and found ourselves on
this fun little one-lane rode that very quickly gained 1600ft in altitude,
complete with a couple
After the race went through, most of our
group took the bus home but a few of us chose to ride back to Annecy.
We could have gone the same way we drove in, but would have had to deal with
massive traffic, so instead one of the locals mapped out a cool alternate
route for us, complete with quite a bit of climbing along with a very
memorable descent down Croix de la Croix Fry. Sometime later we found
ourselves in a crowded little town and engaged in the local style of
cycling, running right down the middle of the narrow streets, between rows
of passing cars. Yikes! If you look at the photo, you can see my
group riding down the middle of the street (which means I'm also riding down
the middle of the street, taking photos at the same time...as many customers
have already surmised, they removed the IQ test for bike shop owners a long
But if that wasn't enough, we then proceeded up an old
Roman road which was too narrow for one car, so narrow, in fact, that I
wonder if they made special carts for such passages? And, of course, a
car came around the corner in the opposite direction, pretty much pinning me
to the side of the cliff. When I get back home I'll put up lots more
info on these rides, but for now I've got to get a bit of sleep so I'm ready
for my big travel day tomorrow. Get to do the rental car thing, such
fun! Would much rather do the train thing for this part, but too much
luggage (and I haven't even gotten my kids those green hands they pass out
at the Tour yet!).
07/26/02- DON'T WAIT AROUND FOR ME TONIGHT, I
MIGHT NOT GET THERE!
For the past two hours I've made about a half-mile progress on the toll
"expressway" between Annecy and Bourg en Bresse. Right now I'm stopped
in the middle of a long tunnel, fortunately with daylight at the end so I'm
not too worried you'll be reading about me in the papers
tomorrow (along with a couple hundred other victims of carbon monoxide
poisoning). But I guess I should be thankful for the fact that I
managed to rent a car in the first place. You see, it's like this...
the plan was originally to have the hotel Concierge call and reserve a car
for me this morning, but just as I hit the lobby a cab was heading to the
train station (where the rental places are), so I figure hey, free ride,
I'll just go down with them and rent the car and come back to the hotel.
Should be easy, right?
Wrong. I went to Hertz. No cars. Avis.
No cars. National. No cars. Car-Go. Yes, they have a
car! No, it cannot be dropped off in Macon, must be a round trip.
Sigh. After walking to every car place in town, I finally give up on
the idea of renting a car and head back to the hotel, resigned to grabbing a
train into Macon and skip the finish of today's stage. In the lobby I
see Dick Burke, founder of TREK bicycles, and tell him how my morning's gone
so far. He asks "You don't think it was because you're not French, do
you?" I say no, I'm sure that's not the case. But even the
suggestion (from someone far more traveled than I) gets me thinking, so I go back to
the Concierge and see if he knows of any place I might rent a car. One
phone call, to Hertz, and suddenly the car which didn't exist before is now
available. (Bruno, if you're reading this, sorry, but it does
seem rather suspicious!).
But at this exact moment I'm not sure if the Concierge did me
much of a favor. It's 1:25pm and in the past hour and 15 minutes, I've
gone about 3 kilometers. I'm also getting a bit hungry, thirsty, and,
well, there is a reason most of the plants alongside the roads
here are yellow...
No doubt the racers are making much better time than I am
to Bourg en Bresse!
07/26/02- NOT THE GREATEST DAY OF MY TRIP. The number of things today that didn't go quite right, starting with the
traffic jam mentioned below (finally made it to Bourg en Bresse about two
hours later than I figured) and ending with the wonderful Windows ME
operating system on my laptop, that just loves to cause it to crash at
inopportune moments, like right after I just typed about a page and a half
of diary entries just now! Note to self- please upgrade laptop
operating system to either Win2000 or XP when I get home.
OK, so I finally make it to Bourg en Bresse, discovering that
I have exceptional navigational skills in France. You just kind of get
a feel for how things are laid out after a while. Found a nice parking
spot only a kilometer from the finish line, way closer than everyone else
was having to park. Hey, I'll get the hang of this yet!
But the race itself? Not so sure what all the fun is
about being at the finish line of a big race, unless you're
one of the lucky few with grandstand seats (and even TREK's largest OCLV
dealer doesn't get that). Or perhaps have a hotel room that overlooks
the finish line. But the rest of us have to settle for contorting
ourselves severely, one foot wrapped around a post and the other about six
steps up some stairs going nowhere, trying to hang on despite a wall of
humanity that presses in like a human airbag. You do this for a good
15-20 minutes while you listen to the announcer describing the action in a
language you don't understand. Actually, you begin to get the hang of
it after a while, but you really miss the different video feeds and the
commentary from Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett.
Eventually the riders race past, and, if you're lucky, you
might just catch the top of a helmet (and be able to differentiate it from
the 15 other heads that stand between you and the racer). There is, of
course, an element of excitement, an almost tangible electrical charge in
the air, but for my money, it will never replace watching on a steep climb.
You don't even know who won until they post it on the big screen (and enough
people have moved on so that you can see it).
OK, so the race was interesting, something to experience,
but not particularly the thrill I was hoping for. (Well, actually, you
do get to see the PDM "Hand" girls... although, once again, I came up empty
"handed", which will not notplease my kids!)I was
definitely getting hungry & thirsty by now, so, on the way back to the car,
I stop in at the local Casino Supermarket. This is when the day
started to go seriously bad. I thought I had everything down good,
the Euros sure make it easier to pay, but didn't realize that, in France,
you weigh your fruit & veggies yourself, before bringing them to the
counter. Not an especially wonderful moment for me as I'm holding up a
long line while they call for a young girl who (slowly) takes the bag back
to the produce section, weighs it, and comes back. So, we're back to
the French gaffe of the day.
Now remember that stuff I was telling you about my
navigational skills? It's all a lie. The 40k trip from Bourg en
Bresse to Macon ended up being around 100k or so, taking me all over the
place as I tried to figure out how to get back onto the (expensive) toll
road. Hey, I saw some gorgeous countryside, quaint little towns, great
places to ride! But it's just not the same when you don't have someone
to share the experience with. Even stupidity and the strange
sort of adventure that ensures is so much more enjoyable when you've got
someone with you. But when you're alone, and things aren't quite
working out, well, you start missing your wife & kids, and heck, you even
start missing the bike shop. You even start thinking about coming home
earlier than planned.
But eventually I find my way to Macon and, without
anything more than an address (no directions), easily find the hotel I'm
staying in. I check in and get settled in just a bit, then head out
while it's still daylight to see if I can find the train station and, more
importantly, the car rental return place. Found the train station
anyway. Then I try to locate the start area for tomorrow's time trial
and figure I might have found it when I see a whole lot of official Tour de
France vehicles. Not quite. What I'd found was something even
more interesting. I found the hotel the teams were staying at!
Now this was a new Tour experience for me, so I park the car, get out the
camera, and start taking photos of all the kids waiting for an autograph.
And waiting. And waiting. Waiting for someone to come out,
hoping that many might. Finally a couple CSC guys give the kids a few
autographs, but the crowd isn't all that interested in them... they want one
person. One person who I never quite understood his popularity.
Richard Virenque. What's with that, I've always wondered?
wonder no more. Eventually Virenque did come out, and what a
crowd-pleaser. He doesn't just sign autographs, he kisses babies,
poses with the wives, chats a bit... it's like he's running for President!
And he comes off as being totally charming. OK, Bruno, now I
understand the attraction (Bruno's our service manager in Redwood City and
also the token French National on our staff... everybody needs one Frenchman
to keep them in line, and Bruno's the best).
Sorry this will have been delayed quite some time before
you read it, but tonight's accommodations are sans phones. Tomorrow
night I'll be in Paris, where I think I'll be just a bit better connected!
And probably feeling better, too.
07/27/02- ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF MY TRIP!Sometimes, if you're nothing more than a bit patient, the
world will change for the better. This was one of those times.
Today was as "up" as yesterday was "down." Macon turned out to be a
very nice town, met a lot of our customers, a lot of new people I didn't
know before, some interesting characters, and generally, everything just
went the right way. In fact, I just got off the taxi and checked into
my Paris hotel room, and it really is just 100 feet off the
final criterium part of the race course! More in a bit, but have to
get unpacked and download all the photos etc. Just didn't want to
leave people with yesterday's entry as the first thing they saw. Sorry
about no update yesterday, but the hotel in Macon was dorm-style with no
real phone service.
I arrived in Macon last night, after a pretty tough day
(and much longer drive than it should have been), but quickly found my
hotel, and, even though it was dorm-style accommodations (quite a switch
from what I'd been in so far and since), the bed felt great and I got just a
bit over six hours sleep, a major victory! But this morning there were
some major issues to take care of, such as where the car rental place was so
I could return it before getting charged another $140, and where the train
station was (so I could coordinate my escape), and how I was going to get
from the car rental place back into town, and then back out to the train
station later on.
I said, it's like this. I drive out to the train station, and suddenly
see some friendly (or at least familiar) faces... Jon Riley, TREK's road
bike product manager, and Chad Price, the Bontrager Wheel product manager.
They're waiting for someone else from TREK who was supposed to be picking
them up, but, for the moment, they were looking rather stranded and really
wanting to find someone who spoke English. That would be me. So
I give them a quick tour of the town, but first discover that the car return
place is actually the train station. That would be so incredibly
convenient if I wanted to spend another $140 to keep the car for the
day, but truth is, I'd bonded with that car about as much as I cared to
yesterday (when trying to find my way to Macon).
their friend's car was full of Bontrager wheels for the team, no room for
me. So I figure I'll have to take a cab from the train station back
into town (about 10-12km). Just then I hear someone call out to me, a
couple of customers (John & Kristen, shown in the photo above) in
their rental car. I readily accept their offer of a lift into town,
and in fact we spent a fair amount of the day together. Incredible how
things can turn out for the better, if you just give things a bit of time to
But that was just the beginning. The fun & crazy &
sentimental things I saw at Macon were incredible. From the kids waiting to get autographs and photos taken with Virenque
at the team hotel last night, to the crazy young lady in the photo at the
right. Check out those boots, and the outfit in general. Yes,
those are LOOK cleats mounted to her boots, and yes, she actually rode all
the way up Mont Ventoux in that exact outfit. She and the guy next to
her (wearing the "Don't mess with Texas shirt") were on their Honeymoon, and
let me tell you, I wouldn't want to mess with either one of them (but
And then we came across a person whose daughter had
created some very nice posters for Lance. "Austin loves Lance"
,"Lance Pedal to the Max" and "Go US Postal." The
France is about a whole lot more than just a bike race. It's about
families & friends & meeting new people & getting exposed to things just a
little bit different (not necessarily better or worse) than you're used to.
And, for me, discovering that a day of nasty little obstacles (like
yesterday) is something you can easily get past with a little bit of
07/27/02 11:50pm- DO THE LIGHTS EVER GO OUT IN
PARIS?I've never seen anything like this. It's
nearly midnight, and there are more people out on the streets than I've ever
seen in the daytime in San Francisco. It becomes difficult to fathom
how they're going to suddenly throw a switch and toss everybody out so they
can run a bike race, but at some point I'd imagine people run out of steam
and go home.
Other observations- this is not a good
city to drive a car in (and yet people do!). And the food at the local
Quik Burger is no better than McDonalds, but it seems like a good place to
try and practice French (but I still need to look up the phrase "with ice,
please"("Avec glace, si'l vous plait" perhaps?). And the water in
Paris... OK, now I finally understand why people drink bottled
Also forgot to mention the first thing I noticed when I
got off the train- a young lady on a cell phone, choking back tears on the
platform. Reminded me of the scene in Casablanca where Rick is
standing on the train's steps in the rain, reading a note saying that Ilse
(Ingrid Bergman) won't be leaving with him. Yes, I can come up with a
movie scene that parallels just about anything. In fact, when waiting
near the top of one of the mountain passes for the Tour de France cyclists
to come through, I was reminded of that part in Close Encounters of the
Third Kind where everyone's waiting (on a mountain top road) for the ETs to
Oh, by the way... that Arc 'd' Triomphe thing? It's
The view down the road at 9am this morning, looking
towards that "Arc" thingee. It really is big! At
last I found them... the elusive Green Hands people! Scored a couple of Green PMU Hands for my kids (who made it clear I
wasn't to come home without them), and a PMU Tour de France board game.
left is the street my hotel is on, just off the Elysees. For those who
worry that you can't find a hotel room in Paris shortly before the TDF, fear
not; July isn't quite high-season (August is another matter), and I booked a
room at the Best Western Collissee Inn just a few weeks prior to the TDF.
Not inexpensive (about $100 euros/night) but less than a block off the
main drag, very clean & very quiet (and, thankfully, air-conditioned!).
On the right is our chosen spot, maybe 100 feet from my hotel room.
Life is good! And we'll defend our spot to the death.
Getting set for the finale- how?
Well, you start looking for your spot to watch it about 9am, make sure
you've got it staked out by 10:30, and then guard it with your life until...
you won't believe this... but sometime after 6pm! That's our spot in the photo
above on the right,
being tended to by Eric and Kathy (two Chain Reaction customers), Jeff and
Noelle (two nice folk from England), and Paul and Lynette (two more Chain
Reaction customers... wonder if we did any business during the Tour de
France, since all of our customers seemed to be in France?). The way
it works is this- you get there earlier than the other people around you,
and you've earned your spot at the barricade. People try to move in on
your space, but life's tough, it's your space!
Question is, how much space can you truly defend?
That's the tough one. It becomes obvious after a while that the place
is going to be mobbed, and we don't have quite enough resources for the area
we've seized. That's when we offered to expand our group to include
Tracy, seen in the left photo. She had arrived maybe an hour
after we did, but before things got ugly. Turns out she's been in
France four weeks, studying French, and teaches foreign languages at a
school on Long Island. She's also much older than she looks.
10:30am Discover that the best place to watch the race is right in
front of your hotel. Now you've got to be on your spot, ready to
protect it from intruders.
2pm Last chance to get all your food, drink & bathroom runs in,
because, from then on, you're not going to have a place to come back to
2:30pm The Caravan starts cruising through, and that lasts for about
an hour. Not much fun either, since they're not throwing out any
3pm The Caravan is making yet another run, and you're beginning to
question the wisdom of picking the sunny side of the street.
The racers finally arrive! Sure would be great to know what's
happening, but the PA system is borrowed from Jack in the Box, making the
French completely indecipherable, even just trying to pick out names.
4:30pm You're desperate for water & food. Fortunately your
friends have some extra water, but for food? Found out that you can
eat a Snickers bar that's been out in 90 degree sun by squeezing it from the
bottom like Gu.
4:35pm (or thereabouts) You find out who the strong and the weak are,
as some of your group decide they can't stay out in the sun any longer.
Outsiders quickly move in, and have absolutely no respect for your own
5:12pm The race is over, but you have no idea who won. Once
again think that it would have been worthwhile to buy a small europe-compatible
(meaning it won't work in the US) hand-held TV.
5:42pm You're waiting for Lance to take his Victory lap, only to find
that's not the way it works. Each team gets to do a full lap around
the course, after the announcer has read off each rider's name. 21
teams, about 3 minute intervals..
6:17pm Lance finally makes his way past your position...yay!!!
Of course, you wait until 6:26pm, when he's riding back on the side opposite
6:30pm You're on the prowl for last-minute trinkets & trash for your
kids, wondering how in the world you're going to bring Umbrellas back on the
plane. Despite the fact that you really want to get back to your hotel
room (and its bathroom), the urgency of getting those final souvenirs is
even more important, as the shelves are quickly becoming bare.
7pm You're back at work updating the website (this is optional, and
probably not relevant to most readers), and noticing that you had
incorrectly set the focus on manual mode, wrecking a lot of great shots.
9pm You've just finished the website work and are about to update it,
and then remember that you've got to wash some socks in the sink so you have
something for tomorrow. Or, you go out and buy some more. Some
questions don't take a whole lot of thought.
note that this differs quite a bit from the experience of watching Phil &
Paul on OLN television! Everything at the end is heavily compressed
(you don't see the procession of each team riding around the Champ Elysees,
and the Caravan is omitted entirely, in favor of covering the actual race...
what a concept!). But it's definitely worth it, at least once.
If I come back again though, I'll have a Camelbak and a bunch of food.
Will I come back a fourth time? Probably. No,
Yes. I mean Yes, I will come back, but I have a feeling it might not
be next year, but probably the year following, when Lance (presumably) goes
for #6. Or if I do go next year, it would probably be with one or two
other people, not a really large group. Or maybe even one of those
low-rent Graham Baxter megatours (someone said they had 500 people here this
year!). Gee, can you tell that I'm just a wee bit conflicted?
But there's a part of me that wouldn't mind spending 12 days doing something
just a little bit less hectic than following the Tour de France, and yet
another part that says maybe I could do both, maybe it's time to stop
working six days and 90 hours/week. Sorry for the ramble, but if
you've read my diary entries in the past, it's nothing new and means that
I'm pretty much settled in here.
VOUS PARLEZ ANGLAIS?Oui? Je Joudrais Le Dolce
Vita et Fanta et Tart Chocolat si'l vois plait. OK, no, I don't get it
either. I go into a sandwich place to grab some dinner, ask the guy at
the counter if he speaks English (to which he replies yes), and then I order
in (awful) French. If I wasn't alone, whoever was with me would be
having a pretty good time at my expense! I miss that. So I
compensate by including it in my diary entry, so that lots of people
can have fun at my expense! And that's the nice thing about having a
bicycle shop and running its web site and meeting up with our customers
everywhere I turn. I'm not really ever alone.
But if I had more time, and another person willing to help take on the
project, there's a couple things I'd really like to do. I'd start with
a search for a 32 ounce soft drink! Or even take-out coffee.
Strange the way everything is min-sized here, although I have to admit
people are generally not overweight here either. Could be a
connection? I'd also do some research on why just about every sandwich
you can buy is made with ham. Have the French scored a great deal on
ham? I don't recall seeing a lot of pigs in my cruises through the
countryside, but have seen quite a few chickens. Yet chicken is
optional, ham is mandatory!
Language is a funny thing. Tried to buy a Le
Parisian magazine at the Champ Elysees during the race, but this particular
vendor sold them only as sets (along with a TDF hat and a refrigerator
magnet). But instead of saying that it was only available as part of a
package, his literal French-to-English translation was "I demand that you
buy it together." Makes me wonder how some of the things I've said
I've also noticed that I'm not quite fitting the
stereotype of an American, and I don't know why. The locals feel
perfectly comfortable coming up to me and speaking French, assuming... what?
Not sure. But I don't notice this happening with many others.
It's not as if I look all that confident as I wander around (at least I
don't feel that way!). The downside of this is that it makes me
reluctant to look stuff up in my phrase book, which would give away the
disguise. More seriously, the definition of a French native is pretty
broad, and may even include people with really bad hair days and relatively
new shoes with way-long laces.
Just thought of something else on the language thing.
Being in Paris might not be the best place to try to speak French, for a
couple of reasons. First, it's a very busy place, and there's little
tolerance for holding things up for a few seconds. Thus, the person at
the counter will simply speak English to you. Second, people
just really aren't that interested in helping you with your French lessons,
while in the country, even a small amount will often bring a very big smile.
It probably just gets back to that "busy" thing. The French
countryside is as slow and laid back as Paris is fast & frantic. It's
really two different worlds.
500,000 vs MONA LISA, MAYBE 5,000?It wasn't even
close. But we'll get to that later. This was my "free" day in
France, the one I'd deliberately scheduled ahead of time, a full day after
the finish of the Tour de France so, instead of jumping on the first early
plane out of town, I could actually do some of the tourist things and see a
(little) bit of Paris.
So I start the day at about
7am (didn't set the alarm clock, thought maybe I'd sleep in a bit, but
y'know, you get a bit excited, there's lots to do, so you get up and go!)
and am out on the town before 8. I got one of those multi-museum
passes, and a ticket for the "Open Tour Bus" that, for $24 ($26 for two
days) allows you to get on and off all over town, stopping at many of the
more popular attractions. On the way there I come across two guys I
met on an earlier mountain stage, and whose names I wrote down somewhere...
where the heck is it? Guys (you know who you are, the ones in the
photo to the left!), if you're reading this, could you send me
an email with your names??? Nice guys, one works at Nike.
Ican already tell this page is going to be a
OK, next stop Arc de Triomphe, which you can see in the
background. Do you have any idea how big that thing is? A very
impressive structure indeed. In fact, there is a lot of that sort of
and you find yourself constantly scratching your head, wondering how all
this stuff was built without modern technology.
Now I'm back to that life-imitating-art-imitating-life
thing again. Remember the movie Vertigo? That scene with the
circular stairwell that goes on forever and makes you dizzy? I think I
know where they got the idea.
Not a bad view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe either,
but be warned that, unless you're handicapped, the only way to get up to the
top includes well over 250 steps.
Did I say steps? Next stop, the Eiffel Tower.
You could do the whole thing on elevators, but that would mean
in a very long line and paying a bunch more money. OK, about 60 cents
more for the lower part. But that's not the point! After all, this is a day
you're not riding, you need the workout, and the way they make these stairs,
you're going to get a workout! So you pay your 3 euros (pretty
close to $3) and head up to the second observation deck, the highest you're
allowed to hike. From there you pay another $3 to take an elevator the
rest of the way to the top. Now here's the strange thing. If you
buy a ticket at the bottom that will allow you to take the first elevator to
the second observation deck, and then the final elevator to the top, it will
cost you over $9. But if you buy the tickets separately, it's about $3
less. What's with that??? I figure it's a reward for all of us
who hoofed it up to the second level.
At the top, I met up with a nice couple from Washington
State, Tim & BethAnn. That's a photo of them above (and they took the
picture of me up on top, as proof to my wife & kids that I made it).
They'd been following every stage of the TDF for the last couple of weeks
(sound familiar?) and were going to be spending a bit more time in Italy.
tall is the Eiffel Tower? This picture will give you an idea.
It's the sort of thing that is simply impressively high when you look over
the edge. Even its shadow is impressive! OK, so here's the
scoop. If you want to go up the Tower, and don't mind hiking the first
two levels, you do not have to get in one of those incredibly long
lines that two of the towers have. You can choose the short line at
the base of the tower that only services those who choose to hike up.
Don't worry about the ticket to the top, as you buy that once you get up to
the second observation platform. None of this is explained on the
signage, by the way.
Almost forgot two things. Up at the
top, there are numerous signs telling you that bathrooms are available, and
that they're free. My guess is that they really don't want
people taking a leak off the top of the tower (which really wouldn't be that
unusual in France).
Second, I came across a couple where the guy had just
proposed and the woman was in tears. Nope, no photo (not because I
have too much class, but I just didn't think about it. Too bad, since
they probably would have enjoyed a copy). My guess is there are a lot
of marriage proposals up there.
Next stop... the Louvre. Oh my gosh, there is simply
nothing like this place in the world. Not even sure I should have gone
in there, and was really thinking that when it first took me quite some time
to find the entrance, and then, once inside, it's not at all clear where you
go (but there are many thousands of people going every direction
You don't just go to the Louvre, see what you came for and
leave. Or maybe you do, and that was my problem,
didn't have an agenda. I was completely blown away. You're
talking serious history here. I first visited the section with
statues, and was just awestruck. We're talking sculptures that are
between 400 and 2000 years old, and look stunning. We're talking all
those things you've seen in books but somehow don't get the connection that
they're real objects. And there they are, right in front of you.
The real thing.On the left you see the Venus de Milo statue.
I don't know why it's so surprising, but
somehow you just don't think that those pictures you've seen are real, that
we actually have this incredible art linking us to the past.
You wind your way through parts of the museum, past
incredible paintings, and even begin to pick up some of the differences in
style between French, Italian and Spanish art. I could be totally
wrong, of course, but it seems that the French tried to truly capture the
scene, as accurately as possible (as if they were creating an historical
record), while the Spanish tend to over-emphasize things to give more
dramatic effect or for a more heroic feel, and the Italians have this thing
for eyes and a sort of haunting feeling, more emotional.
Oh, and that Mona Lisa thing? As everyone has
already said, it's a lot smaller than you'd think. And yes, it's
fascinating, and yes, the eyes have this mysterious quality and seem to
follow you around, but there's an awful lot of great art in the museum that
probably gets overlooked by people rushing to see the Mona Lisa. But
regarding Lance vs the Mona Lisa, hey, it only took a minute to get to the
railing surrounding the painting, none of this having to save a spot for six
or more hours! And maybe just 40 or 50 people milling around, perhaps
5000 during the day, vs half a million watching the last stage of the Tour
plan was to see quite a few museums today, but the Louvre completely wrecked
that. I didn't emerge for four hours, and that wasn't nearly enough.
It was enough to make it too late to get into the towers at Notre Dame, and
also late enough that the Open Tour busses stopped running, so I had to take
a boat ride back up the Seine to get close enough (5km or so) to walk back.
Could have been worse, as I got to the the sunset over the river, but the
downside is that it's not all that much fun being in a romantic place when
your wife is 8,000 miles away.
there's always billboards! Check out this one, an obvious example of
some sort of strange syntax in the French language that doesn't work quite
right in English. If this is someone not flirting, I'd hate to
see (or maybe I wouldn't?) someone who is! At first I
questioned whether I should include this in the website, since it looks
rather... well... but actually it's rather tame in comparison to some.
believe it or not, the subject of that billboard isn't the best definition of
"scoring" in France. No, if you're in France, you've definitely
"scored" if you've found a Monoprix market! It's sort of a mini
department store with just about everything you need, and at very reasonable
prices, right in the middle of the high-priced district. Bottled water
in little tiny containers runs about $2 on the street, while a bottle three
times larger cost $.51 at Monoprix.
Check out the spread in the right-hand photo here.
One quart (sort of, it's metric) of orange/grapefruit juice for less than $2
(less than what you pay on the street for a 10oz/33cl can). The bottled
water that I'd mentioned above. Yogurt is $1.14
for two, and... well, we'll stop there before someone gets on my case about
my eating habits. But hey, how many Pain au Chocolats can you eat
before it starts to get a bit boring?
This might be the last entry for a couple days, as I have
to get packed for my 2:25pm flight out of town tomorrow (well, looking at my
watch, that's later today!). Main problem remaining is figuring out
how to get five Tour de France umbrellas onto the plane, as they're too long
to fit into my luggage. I'll be back home very late Tuesday night, but
don't look for me to have answered many emails for a few days. There's
going to be just a little bit of catching up to do!
Dogs are everywhere in Paris. In the countryside, you don't
see too many, but in Paris, they're all over the place, taking their owners
for a walk. Actually they're very well behaved, but the owners aren't.
Watch your step, as they don't have any problem pooping in the middle of the
sidewalk, and nobody cleans up after them.
is for lovers is more than just a saying. Romance is everywhere,
this is where people seem to migrate when they're in love. Much more
hand-holding and leisurely walks in couples of all ages.
Personal space is a concept some people don't have here. Don't
be surprised when people are pushed up against you, sometimes embarrassingly
Thieves & pickpockets? Signs all over the place warning you about
them, but the only thieves I found were short-change artists at a
money-exchange places. Cashing a traveler's check is a 6% hit!!!
And if you don't watch out, they'll actually take more than that (they don't
bother counting the change back to you, so best to figure out ahead of time
what you have coming to you, and question things if it's different).
Sans and Avec are two words you should remember. Sans is
"without" and avec is "with." You want to know how to say "With ice,
please" (Avec glace, si'l vous plait), and, if you want non-carbonated
water, "Sans gasse, si'l vous plait." And, if you want someone to know
you don't speak French well, tell them "Je parlez Francais come une vache
espagnole" (which means something like "I speak French like a Spanish cow").
Sorry, never had the guts to use that one.
Heat was almost oppressive. In Paris, it was 90 degrees (or more)
every single day, and when you spend the day outside, you go through a lot
of water. Don't even think about visiting a large city like Paris
without a backback to carry extra water when it's hot. It was also
pretty smoggy, and I noticed they were having the equivalent of our "spare
the air" days.It reminded me of a slightly-cooler version of
Sacramento. However, keep in mind that Paris can also be quite cool
and wet in the summer. My advise would be to bring clothing suitable
for moderate weather and, if it's nasty, buy what you need at the local
Monoprix.But if you buy fruit or
vegetables, make sure to weigh them first!
Tips & gratuities are already included in some restaurants bills, so
look them over carefully before putting a tip on the table. Unless, of
course, your waiter gave you three cubes of ice without asking. In
France, that's an offense that would probably cause an employee to be fired
if he/she got caught!
artists on the rive Seine appear to be the real thing. Only place
in Paris where I saw real sketchings and paintings done right in front of
you, rather than in a Chinese factory. Don't know what it costs, but
I'm sure it's a better deal (and higher quality) than what you get in
You can get by with only English in Paris but you find yourself wishing
that wasn't the case. In the countryside, they'll help you out as you
stumble for words, but in Paris, they just switch from French to English.
It creates a rather funny scene, as they're speaking English to you, but
you're speaking French (like a Spanish Cow) to them. Must be very
amusing for the locals!
Au revoir, and I look forward to seeing many of you back in the US.
WE'VE SENT YOUR BAGS ON AHEAD SIR. WHERE IS IT YOU'LL BE
STAYING?The absurdity of that line should be
immediately apparent, and yet it bears remarkable resemblance to reality at
Due to a number of things not lining up quite right (the airport shuttle was
20 minutes late, Paris is having some sort of emergency "spare the air" day
such that maximum speeds allowed on freeways are reduced significantly, and
a thunderstorm just rolled in, reducing visibility and speed yet further), I
didn't make my flight out of town.So, instead of flying
to San Francisco tonight, I fly first to Amsterdam, where I'll spend the
night in what they assure me is a lovely little city, and then tomorrow
morning fly home by way of Minneapolis.Not only that, but in
the shuffle, the highly-coveted (and darn near impossible to travel with)
green PNU hands have disappeared, and there's this cute little girl who
keeps wanting to play with my computer. You know the type, strays
quite a distance from Mom, who just doesn't seem to care that she's hanging
all over a complete stranger, playing with his computer. Go figure.
I just must not look very menacing. And yes, that is a
Tele-Tubby she's holding. I'm told they're still very big over here.
Barney hung on for quite a while too. Please don't believe everything
you hear about Europe being ahead of the US in terms of sophisticated
I've sent my
luggage on ahead so all I'm carrying with me is my backpack and
something that looks
far more sinister than I'd think they'd allow on a plane- a package of five
umbrellas strapped together. Doesn't take much imagination to guess
what it looks like, but here's the photo anyway. I swear I look just
like the Terminator, walking around with a sawed-off shotgun (and, for the
first time on my trip, I'm definitely getting some stares!)
Some people are probably thinking they don't want to get on a plane with
that guy, like how can security possibly allowed something that looks like
that onto a plane? When I created that package, I figured it would go
as checked baggage, but nope, you're only allowed two pieces, even if
they're nowhere near as huge as some of the stuff they let on.
Actually, I think the guy at the counter thought it would be fun to have me
carrying it around! And you know what? It is. Heck,
nobody's going to mess with me when I'm walking the streets of
I'll let you know what Amsterdam's like. Hopefully
not too cold, since I sent all of my clothes on ahead to
Minneapolis, so I don't have to cart two big pieces of luggage around.
Plan is to buy stuff in town, or just wash everything in the sink one more
Most distressing thing about all this? Right now I'm
just wondering who has my green hands!
Strange airport, this CDG (Paris) is. You head way
out into the hinterlands (they call them satellites) and sit in a gate area
that serves maybe 8 or 9 planes, and once you get past the security
checkpoint, there are no phones. You could be stuck here for hours
with no phone. Guess they assume (nearly correctly) that everyone in
Europe has a cell phone? There's also no newstand, virtually no food
(and what there is cannot be bought with a credit card) and,
since this is France, the terminal is avec flume (smoking allowed).
The adventure continues!
07/30/02 9:20pm I'VE HAD THE GRAND TOUR OF CENTRAL
AMSTERDAM, but it's an option that, given the chance, I would
have taken at a different time. (At this point, I feel compelled to
admit that I'm typing in the most grand hotel room you, well, ok, I can
possibly imagine. Seems they were out of the regular rooms, so for the
same $70 euro I'm in some sort of super-suite at the Jolly Hotel/Carlton.
Yes, I'm really roughing it at the moment) At the
Amsterdam airport I asked for some idea of what I ought to do once I get
there, and I have to admit I came across some very helpful people.
Everyone thought that, if you're going to be stuck in Amsterdam for the
night, you ought to at least see the city, not sit in a boring hotel room
next to the airport. And these people were all so
friendly, I figure it couldn't turn out to be too much of an adventure.
Right? You just get on the train that goes to Central Amsterdam, takes
all of 15 minutes. Then take any of 8 different trolley lines to the
I should have known things
wouldn't go quite so simple when, at the station, they made an announcement
on another platform, telling people that the train from somewhere is
"...going to be a mere 10 minutes late." Really, that's exactly what
they said! As if 10 minutes is something that's special. OK,
something to laugh about. The trains are supposed to run every 10
minutes anyway, so no big deal. I must have gotten there right when
one left, since I'm sure it took a full 10 minutes for one to arrive.
But that "15 minute ride" into town? That must have
been running time. We were stopped at various places on the track for
a good half hour, with the ride lasting about 50 minutes. Eventually I
make it into Central Amsterdam, which, around the train station, looks a lot
like the seedier areas of San Francisco. But once you get out a bit
it's actually very nice. Of course, I got the grand tour, because I
missed my stop the first time. On the positive side, I went out to get
a bite to eat (but I will most definitely not tell you where!) and walked a
bit of the town. It's very nice at night, looks much better than in
the daytime. In fact, you'd swear you're looking at the pattern for
Mainstreet USA at Disneyland.
07/31/02 8am AMSTERDAM ISN'T FULL OF "MORNING
PEOPLE"to say the least. On my trip to the
station, I can't help but notice that all those happy, smiling people
I saw last night are now, without exception, the most dour group of people
I've ever seen. Nobody's smiles, you don't even hear perfunctory
hellos, just a whole lot of people drearily heading towards a train taking
them to work. Maybe it's not so bad, maybe I'm just imaging
things a bit. Maybe I'm just feeling a bit giddy about finally getting
on a plane to fly home!
Or, as I board the same train as everyone else, maybe
they're anticipating the smell of urine in the train's doorway? I've
quickly come to the conclusion that Amsterdam's trains are as bad as the
French trains are good. Similarly, I'm beginning to appreciate just
how friendly the French actually are. Even in the mornings, you're
assured a peppy "Bonjour!" that, in retrospect, seems more real than rote.
07/31/02 8:45am (Amsterdam time) THE LOTTERY"They didn't tell you that you'd be on standby?"
Turns out my flight was quite overbooked, and I needed to go directly to the
gate and get on a waiting list. But, she assured me, 9 times out of 10
you get on the flight. So I'm making tracks to the gate, hoping to be
first in line!Got there a good half-hour before the gate desk
opened, and immediately took up a place where I assumed they'd set up the
queue. Everybody else was content to sit down, wondering why some guy
would want to stand on his feet for an extra half-hour. But the way I
figured it, if I was willing to stand in one place from 10:30am until 6pm to
see Lance Armstrong, I could most certainly stand a half-hour if it meant
getting home today!
Security at the final gate was impressive. They set
up three different interview stands, and had people asking passengers all
manner of questions, frequently the same or similar questions asked
different ways, just to trip you up. First time I'd gone through
anything like that, and it was possible that they were being a bit more
thorough than usual due to the presence of a large number of people on the
flight from Bombay. This seemed to cause them quite a bit of concern.
of us on the waiting list are told to sit in this one area, segregated from
everyone else, until our name was called. And, as befits a waiting
list, waiting is exactly what you did. 25 minutes prior to departure,
the most important woman in my life arrives. The woman with the
tickets home (shown in the photo). There are a lot of us
waiting to get on the plane, and nobody but her knows how many of us will
have tickets home. Talk about suspense! She starts reading the
names, and I'm immediately disappointed, to tell you the truth, because I
assumed that the sooner you got on the list, the higher your priority.
The names go on... and on... and on. Thinking back on it, it was
similar to having your name called for Jury Duty, only, in this case, you
wanted to hear your name! 12 names so far.
13. And then, finally, I hear my name called. Even pronounced
correctly. As far as I could tell, only one name was read after mine.
I felt sorry for those left behind, but didn't stick around to console
anyone. There was a plane to catch, and an itty bitty uncomfortable
seat with my name on it.
07/31/02 2pm (Minneapolis time, add 6 hours for
Amsterdam equivalent) WE'VE SENT YOUR BAGS ON
AHEAD SIR (PART2) Flying back into the US, you clear customs
the first place you land, grab your luggage off the carousel, and then
re-check it for your next flight. How can all this happen with less
than two hours between flights? Easily, if everything goes right!
So how could things go wrong? Easy, as it turns out. Your
luggage. What do you do when only one of your two bags comes off the
carousel? How long do you wait for it to magically show up? A
10-hour flight doesn't exactly leave you perky and alert...how much do you
trust your eyes to pick out your relatively nondescript bag amongst all the
others? Apparently, mine wasn't the only bag not to show up, as I
overhear a number of other conversations, detailing the procedures for
running down a lost bag (you make the claim at your final destination, San
Francisco, not in Minneapolis). As the clock ticked down to 40 minutes
until my next flight, I figured it was time to jet, as I really didn't want
to miss another plane, especially since I still needed to check in (my
standby status on the prior flight meant that I wasn't in the system for the
next one yet).
07/31/02 4:35pm (West Coast time) WITH A LITTLE
PATIENCE, THINGS ALWAYS WORK OUTThe final 3.5 hour
flight home was a breeze, on a plane filled to only 2/3rds capacity and
exit-row seating. Approaching San Francisco, you see one of the most
welcome sights in the world... fog coming over the hills. Natural air
conditioning. And a wife & kids I hadn't seen in two weeks. It
was great to be away for two weeks, but right now, it feels even better to
08/05/02 8am MY LUGGAGE MAY CATCH UP WITH ME
today, according to Northwest's website! Took a bit longer than they'd
first said, and I'm not exactly looking forward to opening up a bag that has
mostly cycling clothes in need of washing, but it's also got my bike
computer with downloadable info from the rides I did in France, not to
mention all of my keys!
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