Thursday, July 11, 2019

“Alsace” newspaper article from July 11

Janina’s translation 

George, an American Mad for the Bike.

George Christensen is an American flung away, we might say spirited away by the bike, mad for the Tour de France and crazy for the cinema. After the Festivale de Cannes and the départ of the Tour in Brussels he came to join his friend from Mulhouse, Yvon Mevel, to follow two Alsacien stages of the Tour. 

Mug like JJ Cale, a dry body like a hit of a cudgel and a delicate smile of a man who has seen much. When I met GC in Isenheim, in the company of Yvon Mevel, his tent is always planted in the garden.  Even at the house of a pal who has a big house, this curious sixty-two-year (actually 68) old American invariably sleeps in his tent.  Former sports journalist, and messenger in Chicago, he crossed his country in 1979 (actually 1977) on the bike and never stopped. The ritual is unchanging, each year he spends four months in Chicago giving conferences at the local university, then after that he takes off again to some part of the world and to France. On average he he rides a little more than 20,000 km a year and he does not have a car.

Tour de France: “The first time I came was in 2004 for the 6th victory of Lance Armstrong.” There is no point to verify the date, this man is a walking encyclopedia on the showpiece events in cycling. He is as crazy about the big screen as he is about the bicycle, and each year he disembarks with this bike at Charles DeGalle several days before the opening of the Festival of Cannes, and rides as far as the Mediterranean, to watch as many movies as possible,  and then he scouts out the stages of the Tour for the coming year before joining it in the Ville Départ. (the town where the Tour begins) After he follows the course for a part of the route he sets out again for another destination. “I only took the train two times in 2016 to meet up again with the caravan.” Oh, the compulsion to specify precisely: his bike with all the kit weighs 40 kg!

The Friend Yvon: Yvon Mevel of Mulhouse is part of a circle of friends in the world who help George to follow his dreams.  “I am also a touring cyclist and I have made 8,000 milestones of cycling in the good years. We met in 2005 at Notre Dame des Cycliste when I was making a tour of France with my friends. A fit anecdote to place the good man. He wanted to visit the Museum Louison Bobet and looked for the town of Saint Méan-le-Grand. Except that museum of the three-time winner of the Tour was in Saint Méen-le-Grand. When I showed him his error, he just said, “Ok I’ll go there.” It was 700 km!”  Since then the two goofs of the bike meet up almost ever year when George is passing through France.

Following them:  This Thursday, George and Yvon will post themselves high on the col de Hundstruck to applaud the champions with an eye on FDJ. “ I like Thibaut Pinot, I think he could win” explained the American whose hero was called Greg LeMond. Afterwards George will rejoin the Caravan.  Following that he will go to the Festival of Roc Castel before returning to the U.S. Stretching out the slow voyage.  This American  who spends about 7 Euros per day, sleeping in a tent and travels only by his bike deserves to play a leading role here.

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