The weirdest part about watching the last of 21 stages on a television in our chambres inside a ship-shaped Sheraton at the Charles de Gaulle Airport is that it wasn’t that weird. Except yeah, why is the Sheraton shaped like Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, France? LOLZ! Like I was saying, it was pretty easy really. The drive here was basic. Check-in was basic. We threw our bags down, looked out the window at the runway: taxiing, lots of taxiing. We turned the TV on and there it was, the whole bike race, Paris as seen from the sky—instead of a corner, probably the wrong corner, as seen from behind between two umbrellas.
The decision was made in a Pret a Manger. Over the closest thing to coffee we’ve had in a month and a coupla scrumptious poulet sandwiches. It was raining, we couldn’t find our Raoul, our poor Raoul who flew all the way to France just to return the Clio to Shithole (All jokes aside, Shithole is a lovely airport but the Dutch named it Shithole and really that’s none of our business.) Anyway, it was warm and dry and we had an hour to kill, at least. Texting, using the weefee, our cameras in their little rain hats on the table, Emiliano’s coat on the chair, my poncho and modified bib on the floor, our matching, called-up on the very last day, black rubber high tops. Surrounded at last by beautiful people.
- Emiliano: Hey, should we just go?
- Daniel: To the race?, like start shooting and whatever? I thought we were waiting for Raoul. Are we waiting for Raoul? Do you have the Raoul?
- Emiliano: No, I mean should we go-go. Like, home. Like not shoot the race. As in we already did the best thing we’re going to do today. Maybe the best thing for our lives. At least that we’ve done this whole race.
- Daniel: Sure, I mean it’s not like it’s easy to photograph planes dragging paint through the sky anyway. And we don’t have a helicopter. Plus we’d get a jump on the traffic.
- Emiliano: That’s what I’m saying.
- Daniel: I don’t know though.
- Emiliano: Okay well let me know when you know.
I wouldn’t recommend driving through Dijon on your way to Paris from Beaune because you might get a speeding ticket too. I almost cried with joy when I got the Delta Check-in alert on my phone 35km outside Paris. We arrived at the start in a suburban forest and promptly got stuck behind the publicity Caravan one last time. The whole thing. All 300 joke cars. In the rain. I played chess. Emi got a free hat! Then we left early because who wants to see another start? Also today was always supposed to be a Paris Parc & Arc situation.
Of course we thought about it, but not that much because who has time to think about these things? But yeah sure, what the fuck is #stickerprivilege like in the summer rain through the most awesome city in the world? It’s gotta be good right? Well, yeah, it was pretty fucking good. You know how sometimes when the right song comes on and you’re in this mood and the song does this thing, where like, the distinction between you and what you’re doing and where you are and the song you’re listening to is magically gone; suddenly it’s all one, suddenly there is no distinction, everything is synced and linked and it’s Your Movie. You’re not watching the movie anymore, you’re in it. For the sake of your time and our time, let’s just call it The Force. Nonononononononono, The Quickening.
It’s not easy to describe it without sounding like a total dick so instead of writing I’m just going to tell you what happened. First of all it should be noted that we were waaay ahead of the Publicity Caravan and waaay behind everyone else—it was just us. The streets in Paris are wide, barricades were already up, crowds were already starting to assemble. It was us and nobody else on great big empty streets, got it? We had music on and the windows down. We averaged twenty kilometers an hour. The whole parading promenade lap took us about 25 minutes. We stopped only twice on our private cruise-tour past the Arc de Triomphe, Jardins de Trocadero, Tour Eiffel, Les Invalides, Musee d’Orsay, Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries.
Listen, I know it’s Type II fun, trust me I know all about Type II fun, I invented Type II fun. So yeah, in three weeks I’m sure I’ll be off my face at Rontoms regaling motherfuckers for hours with tales of our exploits, a regular raconteur. In the meantime, the 2015 Tour de France was one of the worst experiences of my life and I can pretty much say with absolute certainty that I never evereverevereveever ever need to come back to France. Baaaauuuuuut, Paris is the most beautiful city in the world and we just had a private screening. So let’s call it even.