I’ve been out of action here for a while for two reasons. Watching this year’s tour has been a full time job for a start. I don’t know about you, but this has been probably the best Tour de France since the last time a British cyclist won it. How often does that happen? Also, I put a lot of my Bespoke panache into the Le Tour du Vin fundraiser that we had last week for our Bike MS team. Oh, and my laptop is now blind. It works, but the screen doesn’t. This makes writing a blog quite difficult. I’m currently tapping this out with one thumb on a tiny virtual keyboard while trying to get a two year old to stop doing Hulk Hogan moves on me and go to sleep. I’ll have to add the pictures later!
I’ve been thinking about a lot of things during and since Le Tour, but always Schwinn Paramount™ on my mind is what it means to be EuroPro. Of course, EuroPro can never truly be achieved. It is an ideal. It is always over the next HC climb or cobbled berg. EuroPro is only truly attained by the Pantheon of Gods, Demi-Gods and Demons that name the hairpins of Alpe d’Huez and the shower stalls at Roubaix, and in very special cases, both.
First of all, before we get into the stylistic elements of what EuroPro is (trust me, those are coming – this TdF has been a rich seam to mine), lets not forget the proclivities, idiosyncrasies and extravagances of the truly EuroPro are all forged in the same fire. Pain. Medievel levels of pain. You can’t ever achieve EuroPro unless you have taken physical and mental suffering so far that you find a sense of satisfaction from it. This is not masochism or martyrdom, it is the knowing that you can hurt far more than you ever have before, and more importantly, more than the guy next to you. It is a badge of honour and a stepping stone on the path to Merckxian Enlightenment. Once you know that you can take that kind of pain, then you know that you can dish it out! Here’s the Bespoke Honour Roll of PainMeisters of the 2013 Tour de France:
1. Geraint Thomas.
Stage 1. Fractured pelvis. That has to hurt a lot at the best of times. I can’t imagine what it’s like to ride a bike at race speed day after day, km after km like that. He kept going, his Mum back in Wales begged him to pull out. He kept going. He suffered through the Pyrenees, survived the ferocious pace from Britanny to Ventoux, and then put the hurt on everyone on the flats leading up to the Alpine climbs. Welsh. Hardman. This bodes very well for him one day joining the Roubaix Pantheon. Oh yeah, the reason he missed the tour last year? To grab a fat gold rope at the Olympics.
2. Tony Fucking Martin.
Same shit, different hurt. Tony apparently left half his freaking skin in Corsica (this happens a lot in Corsica, but is usually due to drunken, ginger haired, pale skinned British tourists neglecting to apply sunscreen). How do you come back from that? You win the Mont Saint Michel Time Trial on stage 11 with blood pouring out of your bibs! Tony. Fucking. Martin!
It’s kind of a cliché to talk about Jens, but holy panéed deep fried shit balls soaked in cognac and set on fire, the man is almost 42. I’m 42. He should not be able to do the ridiculous shit that he does. Does it work? On the Amgen Tour of California? Sure. On the Tour de France? Hey, he makes them chase him down, he makes them pay for their supper. Sure, he’s going to go in reverse like an Italian tank on the last climb (what, WW2 is too soon, reallly?), but, damn, why the hell is this geriatric German who should be wearing Depends™ the last survivor of the breakaway in the big show? Jens must have made a Faustian pact to be dishing out the pain to all the young bucks out there, and wearing cycling bibs instead of a bib to catch his spilled soup. Is this really your last tour Jens? I bet, your last race is next year’s Amgen. You’re going for one last stage win, aren’t you. Shine on you crazy diamond. We’re going to miss you at the big show.
That’s just my shortlist. Of course, there were other PainMeisters out there. Who were yours? Chava? Ted King? Let me know who I’ve missed out, and why. More TdF EuroPro action to follow soon.