Friday, July 4, 2008

Le Tour de France 2008

Sorry, I have to rant first.

Fireworks...I love professionally done shows. It's the amatuers that I have problems with.

Technically, any fireworks other than sparklers and snakes are illegal in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately no one other than me seems to know or care. It's to the point where I dread all holidays. The inconsiderate men, and I use that term loosely, in the blocks surrounding my house started yesterday before 8 AM and continued until after 2 AM. I assume that's either when their lighters died or they passed out. You can guage their level of drunkenness by the volume and understandabiliy of the shouting that accompanies the fireworks displays as the day progresses.

I looked out at one point and the parking lot across the street from my house was shrouded in haze. Yes, that's how many things were being ignited. Thank goodness it rained this year. I'm sorry it did because it ruined so many plans, mine included. I didn't get to go to the concert in the park but I'd rather give up that than have a fire in my yard from all the incorrectly launched explosives. No, the only thing to fear this year was a direct hit that might get lodged beneath a rain gutter. Nope, not exaggerating. There are always several house fires in Reading every Fourth of July and an occasional one on an alternate holiday.

In defense of the local police it is impossible for them to contain these people. This is a city-wide problem, not just in my block. I haven't read the paper yet to know how many hands were blown off yesterday. Not that it will make any difference to the rest of the bunch setting off fireworks. The Fourth is over but around here they don't stick to that one day. They started mid-week and will continue through the weekend at least. And then in two months it'll be Labor Day and they'll do it all over again.

On the other hand, should I ever decide to become a war reported I doubt I'll have much trouble adjusting to the noise of being in a war zone. Hm, have to think about that one.

Now for what I really wanted to talk about, Le Tour de France.

"Running from Saturday July 5th to Sunday July 27th 2008, the 95th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres.

These 21 stages have the following profiles:
10 flat stages,
5 mountain stages,
4 medium mountain stages,
2 individual time-trial stages.

Distinctive aspects of the race
4 mountain finishes,
2 rest days,
82 kilometres of individual time-trials,
17 Category 1, Category 2 and highest level passes will be climbed."

For additional information Click Here.

Overall, I'm not a sports person. You all know ice hockey is one exception. This is the second. I'll tell you about the third when the time comes.

This race just plain fascinates me and it has nothing to do with Lance Armstrong or any of the other individual racers. Have you ever watched any of it? I sit in awe of these athletes. Day after day they go out and put their weary bodies through the most physically grueling torture possible. They ride 3500 kilometers which is over 2100 miles in three weeks with very few rest days scattered throughout. I can't even begin to imagine that.

Seriously, these guys ride up mountains and then virtually fly down the other side whether it's raining, snowing or sunny and 100 degrees. They ride through little towns over narrow, winding streets with crowds screaming so loud they can't hear the team radios in their ears. They crash with each other, fall on their own due to equipment failure and just pick themselves up, often with bloody and raw skin exposed through their torn uniforms, and keep right on going. And then, just for fun, every so many days they force their battered bodies to pedal even faster during an individual time trial.

I have yet to grasp all the rules and strategies associated with this whole event and frankly, I don't really care. I like to watch just because I do. It seems to be one of those things. Last year's race was frought with scandal. I hope this year's isn't because having the announcers dwell on the various nefarious situations detracted from my overall enjoyment. I want to relax and soak up the scenery the racers are zipping by, not listen to non-stop speculation of who's cheating and how.

As I said, the race begins today. You can catch part of it almost daily over the next few weeks. If you have a spare moment, take a look. Maybe you'll be as inexplicably interested as I am.

One last thing - I spent some of my holiday speaking with Amarinda Jones. On the phone instead of just through email. It was quite a conversation and I'm so glad it happened. One thing I'm sure of, should we ever meet in person we will be very dangerous. There, you've been warned! What do you think, AJ? Is the world ready for us combined?


Amarinda Jones said...

I know you will be shocked but I refrained from clicking on the 'click here' thing as I want it all to remain a mystery to me - sport has that affect on me.

Fireworks? What's that all about? Is it - A - some caveman thing where man needs to demonstrate his need to control fire or is it - B - just little boys playing with toys? Hmmm...I think I'll take option B for twenty points Bob.

Anny Cook said...

Fireworks. Sigh. Well, what can I say? The popping was going on until nearly midnight around here. Could hear the professional fireworks until 9:30 last night as the park is nearby.

I like the tour de france. I don't watch tv as you know, but I check it out via the internet.

Kelly Kirch said...

Well it died down here around 10:30p. My mil said there were curfews and we didn't hear another pop.

Molly Daniels said...

We had quite a show over here. After the professional display, we came home; the nieghbors came over; the teens (4 at one point) set off fountains, bottle rockets, sparklers (for the 2 toddlers), and spinning butterflies. There were 3 other displays we could see between our street and a couple of blocs away. It was all over by midnight:)

Amarinda Jones said...

No one's ready for the comnbined power of us but who cares...let 'em watch and be agog