Monday, February 18, 2008

Those Sleepless Evenings

Well, the Tour kicked off (for real—a 3.3 km prologue does not a cycling stage make) this morning, Fabian Cancellara and CSC defended the yellow despite crashes in the final few hundred meters...Mark Cavendish, hyped as a future superstar, also crashed in the run into the finish and ended up in the second pack...And a past winner sprinted for the final victory.

Sound familiar? Yup, the script looks like it was basically the same for ToC as is was for that other tour, the one they hold each July in the easiest to conquer country in Europe (a Europe that, depending on who you ask today, swelled by one member). I know this because it's one of those oddly sleepless nights, those ones in which you turn off the light and then sit there with your eyes closed, not a touch of fatigue on your body. Maybe it's because Monday is my day off from training and I'm not battling the standard grind (no classes today thanks to the Dean of Students' office, which wanted to run a drug-and-alcohol survey today), but I've also got a bunch of stuff rattling around in my head, and that's always a recipe for sleeplessness. So I got up, made a small bowl of polenta with maple syrup (gonna miss that next year...), and headed on over to Cyclingnews, which I check out more often than the weather outside my window. Looked over the results to today's ToC stage and thought I feel like I've seen this episode before...

Maybe this tour will be different. Maybe someone will win without backing into first place. Maybe the Rock Racing team (who are these guys? Freddie Rodriguez at 34 alongside Mario Cipollini at 40+, wearing racing kits that look like H.R. Giger and Axl Rose designed them?) will implode into one giant neutron star of carbon fiber, spandex, and sunglasses (actually, it'll be a small star, since they started 3 MEN SHORT due to doping issues BEFORE THE RACE EVEN BEGAN—remember, this is the team with T.Hamilton who, last I heard, was still suspended from cycling), maybe Chris Horner will look around and say "Hey, I can win this, screw you guys" before leaving his boring Astana teammates in the California sunset.

Is that Bono?

O.K., enough vitriol. I don't usually go in for stuff like that, and I'm pretty psyched that the racing season is getting going. But it's now 11:10, and I have to work tomorrow. So why can't I sleep? I don't know...I just spent a blissful weekend in Maine with my sister and new brother in law, writing reports and training around 4 hours a day. My plans to go to Virginia are shaping up, and that's certainly exciting: 12 days with J. Dukes in Charlottesville and Chingateauge (ponies! ponies!), surfing, riding bikes, getting into trouble, cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway (one of the best rides you'll ever go on—you look down on either side and wonder how you've been transported to France (the aforementioned easy to conquer country whose presidents get more and more distressingly wonderful with each new iteration)), and talking about radio and books. So that's on my mind.

I also just found out that PowerBar named me to their elite team, so I'll be getting nutritional help from them this year. I'm still not used to this whole sponsorship thing; it's not unlike getting your license or turning 21. You keep waiting for someone to show up and tell you it's all a dream and that you're in a lot of trouble. But so far the wheels haven't come off, and I'm feeling pretty set for the coming year. Rudy Project for hardhats and glasses, Nathan for bags and hydration system stuff, PowerBar for food, and Craft, my team, for general support.

But beyond that, as I tried to fall asleep, I started thinking about two of my classes for tomorrow. One is reading this great article by Burkhart Bilger (funny name—great writer) about "The Cheese Nun," from a New Yorker a few years old. It's a perfectly crafted article, written in a parallel structure, the two strands being (obvious if you consider the main character) food and religion. Bilger never explicitly crosses the two lines (although he flirts with it in the end, in an uncharacteristic moment), and I'm hoping they pick up on how he makes clear the wonderful, similar invasiveness of these two ideas. My other class, one I picked up from a sick teacher-friend, is reading The Things They Carried, which is a marvelous book. And although the eponymous story often gets the most play, I think one of the other stories, "The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong," is O'Brien's masterpiece, an allegory about America's involvement in Vietnam, as well as a canny examination on the truth of storytelling. This is a story so postmodern it practically deserves its own horn-rims, but appears at first blush to be a simple old traditional story about a character's (d)evolution.

O.K., well, I've succeeded in putting you to sleep, I'll bet. I'm gonna try again, but you'll probably see me off prowling the forums at ST, to Janda's dismay.

1 comment:

Brian Burns said...

congrats on powerbar, dude. My roommate's sponsored by them, and it seems like a good deal - they send lots of stuff, and I get to eat it, so it works out for me at least!

The powergel and a bar saved my ass today... see my blog for more details on a sweet-ass, longer-than-expected ride, and to feel an even-more intense urge to get your ass out to Boulder (yep... we ride in the winter here too).

Talk to you soon.