Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Not only was I looking forward to what she would have to say about bicycling, but also her insights into the French. She knows their ways well, having resided amongst them for eleven years, some of them married to a Frenchman. I met Maribeth over ten years ago before I began my annual summer tours in France attending the Cannes Film Festival and following The Tour de France. Her boy friend Pete was the first person I met who had biked up Mont Ventoux during their first trip, immediately winning my respect.
Maribeth wasn't much of a cyclist when she met Pete, who was working in a bike shop in the town in New York where she was living after leaving France. They weren't a perfect match, as he was somewhat of a jock, while she was "often impossibly feminine," but their "visions of the world coincided more often than they collided."
They were enough of a couple to go to France for some bicycling, though not as much as Pete, an occasional amateur racer, would have liked. They rent a car and drive around the country for six weeks with a pair of bicycles, stopping here and there for day rides of not much more than twenty-five miles, often accompanied by a local guide that Maribeth arranged with her connections. Pete becomes increasingly frustrated over how few miles they are biking and the speed at which they are riding. He calls her "Pokey," a name Maribeth did not care for at all. When that fails to prod her into riding any faster, he declares the imposition of a ten mile per hour minimum on their speed. That truly infuriates Maribeth, especially since she thought she had been improving enough to satisfy Pete. She responds with an emphatic "No way."
Rather than a book about bicycling, it is more a book about bickering. One reviewer suggested that a better subtitle for the book than "A seductive bicycle tour through France," would have been "Eat, Bicker, and Bike." They argue about everything, even how to do laundry. Maribeth is reduced to tears over their frequent inability to understand one another. She becomes so infuriated with Pete she tells him, "You're going to therapy as soon as we return home." Whether he does, she does not say, but they agree to return the following summer for some more biking. Pete cancels at the last minute. Maribeth goes on her own and has the time of her life, happy to have "no one there to yell at me to go faster, to change gears, to pedal nice round circles, or to tell me how to wipe my nose."
She intersects with the Tour de France and ends up at the same hotel with the US Postal Service Team one night. She is thrilled to meet Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie, and is disappointed that Pete isn't along to share in the experience. As proud as she is to be managing on her own, she misses Pete and arranges a flight for him so he can join her for The Tour's arrival in Paris. They still have their moments of friction. He is upset that she can't adequately translate the post-Tour interviews they are watching on television in their hotel room. Maribeth is relieved he manages to chill before they have another a blow-up.
In all her years living in France she had never seen The Tour, as her sophisticated French husband had no interest in it, thinking it beneath him. He was from a noble family and considered bicycle racing a sport for the masses. Tennis was his sport.
But Maribeth is instantly captivated by the electricity and the energy of The Tour. She becomes an enthusiastic devotee. After watching the finish on the Champs Elysees with Pete she gushes, "I still can't believe I missed this all the years I lived in France." Samuel Abt, who covered The Tour for the "New York Times" for over twenty-five years had a similar conversion. He lived in Paris for six years while working for "The Times" before making the effort to give The Tour a look. He too was immediately won over and expressed great regret that he had neglected it all those years, even once choosing to go mushroom hunting rather than accompanying his girl friend who did go watch it, not realizing the magnitude and power of the event.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
It was several months after his Oprah confession that Lance Armstrong finally agreed to meet with Travis Tygart, the man who brought about his downfall with his report on his doping. Armstrong no longer flew around in a private jet, having sold his after losing $75 million in endorsements, and knowing he would be losing millions more of his fortune in law suits. But he still had money enough to charter a jet for the flight to the meeting in Denver, bringing along his girl friend and their two young children.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
He joined Janina and I on our overnight ride to Midewin. Tim mentioned to Christian that I had told him about our encounter in a Corsican cemetery before this past year's Tour as I was filling my water bottles and the Garmin team passed by on a training ride. Christian said that it was David Millar who had first spotted me and called out, "Hey Christian, there's your friend up ahead." Christian peeled off for a quick greeting and then sped off to rejoin his teammates.