I knocked on Raoul’s door at ten like we agreed but he was naked and wet. I said, “Hey Raoul, what’s the story with your lack of clothing?” He told me a story about how they only had one towel, about how that towel was wet and dirty, and how he was waiting for Room Service to bring him a fresh dry towel. I told him to use a t-shirt or whatever it takes because today was a special day—it was the first day in five days that we were starting the day off (right) with a visit to Starbucks. I ordered a grande Emotional Mocha with two pumps, two chocolate pains, and two back-up venti Americanos for myself.
On the way to the start Raoul talked about waking up in the middle of the night because Ian was snoring SO loud. He said he spent about an hour on his phone Google image searching for a photograph of a soldier smoking a cigarette and shooting a machine gun. “You now, you see that in the movies all the time, they are doing both, but I didn’t find it.”
At the start, near sign-in, Manual for Speed found Alex Howes and talked to him about white pants and velvet shoes.
On the way up to the first climb it was raining and dark, so I said something like, “This sucks because if it was sunny you could probably see the Mediterranean Sea and Greece and maybe Tunis or The Stranger beach.” Ian said, “Yeah, you could probably see a whole platoon of boats coming to attack us.” Then we had an argument, the result of which was coming to a consensus around the word armada.
Lately, I feel like I say polly vous anglais so much I feel like a parrot. That’s what I started thinking about after the whole “How do multiple warships travel together?” debate subsided. As soon as I had that thought, I had this thought: what’s the connection between the expression and the bird, and is there one, like, really, or is it just in my sleep-deprived brain mind? Then I was like, is there a famous TV or movie parrot that says polly vous francais all the time? Or does repeating something over and over again just make you feel like a parrot and everybody knows all parrots are called Polly, which polly is the first word, obvs, in the expression polly vous anglais. The only thing I know parrots say all the time for sure is “Polly wants a cracker.” This is as far as I got before I lost service, at which point I rejoined Ian and Raoul’s conversation which was about who held the Strava record on this climb, and whether it was professional or not.
On the way back down the mountain, in the town of Valence, I witnessed two solid white horses nuzzling each other in someone’s backyard. I wanted to stop and take their photo, but Raoul said we didn’t have enough time. I told him that if we don’t have enough time to photograph two stallions nuzzling each other on a windswept bluff towering over The Med, we’re doing something wrong. Raoul made up for it because when we were on the way up the next mountain col he pointed out and I subsequently witnessed my first Mountain Chewbacca in the wild.
I got one for you. If you drink 56 oz of coffee—one grande (16 oz) mocha and two venti (20 oz X 2) Americanos, more or less in one sitting, basically all within an hour, on an empty stomach, and you passenger seat race car drive a Volkswagen Touran—which is many things, including a “fart box,” but a race car it is NOT—through a James Bond car chase movie set in the STEEP hills behind Monaco, you may experience nausea or narcolepsy and/or a combination of the two. Symptoms include: incessant burping/burp-ups/hiccups, shortness of breath and yawning.
Staring into your lap at an iPhone covered in face sweat, countryside boogers and croissant crumbs to play chess, email Klaus about the color and quality of his basement walls and to thumb this stupid note that you’re reading right now will only exacerbate the problem.
In the car, in the rain, waiting for the race to come past, I think about why the French love Jerry Lewis and I text Keiran about my menopausal hot flashes. Also, Raoul and I play baguette games and do baguette tricks, and I attempt to convince Ian to wear my Birkenstock Arizonas #zonas (courtesy of Sole Provisions!!!!!!!) for a photoshoot.
In the mad dash back to the car I broke a nail. We miss the finish anyway because it’s culturally acceptable in France to block intersections when traffic is backed-up, a behavioral phenomenon Keiran describes as Aggressive-Passive. All this in spite of risking everything to move a cone: in the road closure-based melee, when we still thought we had a chance of getting on the course ahead of the race and making it to the finish, we moved a cone blocking an alley in the hopes that the alley would serve as a shortcut past a patch of particularly problematic gridlock. However, there was no light at the end of this particular tunnel, instead we were stopped by an indignant police officer beside himself in the face of our audacity, our wanton disrespect for the rule of law and justice, and for the power and sanctity of this man’s cone. A cone he personally placed on the ground in a manner designed specifically to block the alley. He stopped us, and blocked us, and interrogated us.
“Did you move my cone? Did you not see the cone? Did you drive around the cone? Do you have the cone? Did you run the cone over? Did you realize the cone belongs to the French Police and is therefore imbued with absolute power? Did you touch my cone?” Etc.
–OFFICER, NICE POLICE DEPARTMENT
If you refuse help and instead carry a tray with two cafes and a pot of steamed milk on it in one hand and two large water bottles avec gas in the other hand and use your foot to open doors that pull not push, which requires a hook-catch-swing-back deal with your foot, some people will smile at you, others will think you are a brute. Sometimes I feel like Americans are still seen like frontiersmen to the rest of the world. Capable but brash. All this reminds me of that one episode of Downtown Alley where Matthew refuses Mosley’s help because Matthew thinks being a valet is a waste of time for a full grown man, and in any case he (Matthew) simply doesn’t want, and/or isn’t comfortable, getting any kind of help putting a jacket on or tying his shoes. In my case, the bartender tried to send a footman with me to carry my tray of coffees, but I just didn’t see the point, because our room is only up two flights of stairs and I’m perfectly capable, but maybe if I refuse this man’s help today he will be out of a job tomorrow. Life really is a rollercoaster.
I would like to personally thank you for the creation of your Double Merino Wool Sweatpants which are good at planes because they’re hella #kasual and comfortable, and for documenting outdoor spectacles held in a variety of environments and weather conditions because wool is durable, breathable and capable of thermoregulation, and for wearing ten days in a row because wool is antimicrobial, and for traveling in Europe because your fit is both elegant and sophisticated, and for emotional strength because your pants have good hand feel and when you look good you feel good, and if you feel good you are good, and if you’re good you’re good.
Daniel Pasley, MFS