I didn’t take a shower last night because it was too complicated.
- The shower wasn’t a shower, it was a bathtub with a hand-held shower head on the end of a metal hose.
- Since I don’t have a shower assistant (Emiliano was sleeping) these situations make my arm(s) hurt. Also, they are Unnecessary Tedium incarnate. Listen, Europe, you’re 90% of the way to a shower but what, you give up? You don’t have poles or rods or something? Free-standing activities lead to teenage pregnancy? What’s going on here?
- I lost my soap. I used to have soap. I had a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Almond soap in a plastic traveling case but now it’s gone forever. The bathroom in our Gite comes with a writing desk, not soap.
- I didn’t have a towel because our Gite also does not provide towels. There’s that Vonn Trapp family homeschool desk though, so I’m sure as fuck not complaining; also the night is young, and clean or not my post-MFS résumé isn’t going to write itself.
- But I was dirty, real dirty. I get soooo dirty out there, slinging, walking the climbs. No but dude shut-up, this is serious, every day at the end of the day we stink and we’re sticky. I think the only time I’ve ever felt more sullied and begrimed was when I messengered on a scooter in Los Angeles back in ‘93 (the freeways and that inversion layer add-up). Point is, even though it was 3:45 AM and I had none of the right equipment I started to entertain alternatives.
- I shouldn’t take all the credit. On the towel rack was a still-damp twin bedsheet. Emiliano’s berth for the night was a bunk-bed in the Time Out corner behind the tapestry-curtain. A la, ergo, voila, therefore, he had an extra sheet-cum-towel.
- My bed was just the one bed so I started to think. But then I forgot what I was thinking about so I started to play chess on my iPhone which is what I do when I don’t know what to do. It’s going pretty well. I’m not a 16th level Paladin with 167 hit points, but I am a 1200 Elo Class D Novice and I win about half the time. Then my phone died.
- Then I really forgot what I was doing so I went to sleep in my filth.
- But first I read three pages of “The Drury Girl” by Sam Lipsyte from the book Venus Drive. Before I fell asleep I remembered to take off my Petzl Zipka—the kind with a retractable garotte—which is a good thing because if I don’t I wake-up halfway through a craniotomy.
My first thought was why are there flies on my face? My second thought was this Gite smells like a cattery but soooooounds like an orphanage. I can’t finish breakfast because breakfast is that bad. Also, flies. Our car is a nest and when we pull-out I notice the trash-shadow. We follow a river down the mountain to Gap. The river looks like chocolate milk but we see lots of rafters rafting the chocolate milk river. Every small town in France has a digital Vouz Roulez A Radar speed sign. They display your speed, and based on that speed in relation to the speed limit, either a happy face or a sad face. It’s cute in concept, but in practice France frowns at us at least once every day .
Recreational Vehicles are a menace. They’re wrong for humanity. Also driving one up a mountain says I’m an asshole and I don’t give a shit about anybody. I can’t live without my Beanie Baby collection. I won’t travel without all six of my weimaraners: Donner, Blitzen, Adolph, Gunner, Bentley and Cash. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. When the Apocalypse comes they’re going out in the first wave. First of all, when gas and water finally really matter these fuckers don’t stand a chance. And it gets worse. When they’re immobilized and just parked on the side of the road they practically broadcast Hey Come over here and check-out my abundance of resources! Thing is, when it comes to a siege, these puppies are child’s play. Easily surrounded, easy to tip over, moderately flammable.
On the upside, once again a seventy year old grandma rips past us, this one wearing blue blockers and a white denim hat with the word NICE written across the front in giant rhinestones.
Emiliano wants to know why all the Bernards in France and maybe all of Europe have old basic-ass bikes. He wants to know where all if any the steez is. We talk about sports. How cycling in Europe might just be a sport. A sport like basketball. And why would you upgrade a basketball? Maybe in Europe bikes are just basketballs.
Sign-in is on a wide, broad avenue in the shade. There are two giant TVs. We leave Gap on the course on a road that goes to Grenoble. If someone forced me to live in France I think I could live in Gap. It’s up against the Alps and a National Park or two, and also the climbing starts immediately. Someone in a Minnesota State sweatshirt, Go Gophers! Someone else in a cage eight feet off the ground on the end of a forklift.
We’re hungry so we slow through every town scanning for a Boulangerie. There is no way to deviate our way back onto the course at any point so today is just about the one climb, the hors jammer. It takes hours. We drive up and down six maybe seven individual alps before we get to the bottom of the main event. It’s worth it. There are lakes, waterfalls, meadows, snow fields in the bowls and couloirs, shit is Alpine.
When the race passes we jump in behind it and surf it to the bottom. After waiting for the race to finish, we commute to our Mountaintop apartment building which is in basically-Col du Galibier.