Monday, July 21, 2008

Le Tour, Part Trois

What I've been missing in the Tour de France this year is the fireworks--and I'm much afraid that it may have been the doping that made them possible. It has been a solid race, no question. The competition has been fierce, at times, and there have been exciting moments almost every day. What I miss are those thrilling moments, usually in the mountains, when a single rider light on fire--or perhaps a pair of them--and puts in a gargantuan, superhuman, eye-popping performance to wrest the yellow jersey from the competition. The most notable this year, by the Italian Riccardo Ricco, proved shortly afterward to have been a cheat.

Thus far, it has all been strategy. Not that strategy has not always played a major role in the way teams support their star riders; and not that the CSC team, this year's standout, has not put up a truly admirable show. But it has been more than usually about the peloton, about playing defense, about keeping things safe for the handful of likely general category contenders, about the careful conservation of energies and planning for future stages. No fireworks. But a lot of hard work. The work it takes to get up those mountains is extraordinary in itself. And I guess I'd rather do without the fireworks if they can't be done without the dope--I'd opt for the honest race.

I'll be watching today as usual, at some point. I'm not much of an electronics fan, but I'm grateful for the recording system on my cable box that allows me to record and watch at my leisure, speeding through the dull parts and the commercials.

Today we head back down to Laguna Beach and plan to spend the next couple of weeks there, watching construction progress in the basement and preparing the house for the two-month process of total demolition and reconstruction in the kitchen. Then, early August, we leave for a long road trip north with George the dog. Not sure what will happen to The Buddha Diaires in that time period. Ellie has been pushing for a "Travels with George" story, along the lines of John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley in Search of America." We have it on order from the library...

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