I'm boarding another bus this afternoon to head back home to Boston. Goodbye NYC, goodbye swelteringly hot printing studio in Billyburg, goodbye comfy black couch in NYC Velo.
And also, in a way, goodbye summer.
Not that it's over, technically. But most cyclists will probably agree that they're feeling it pulling to a reluctant close. The hot summer rides aren't going to taper off into more time indoors on trainers or rollers just yet [unless, like me, you're dreaming almost strictly of velodromes recently]. And evenings will probably still be spent - as they should be - with a cold beer or a sticky, melty ice cream cone.
Still. The Tour's over.
The cycling event that dominates three weeks of July, it creeps up on you as you long for clear, sunny days that stretch their light late into the evenings, and keeps you, inexplicably, lingering in front of the TV or computer instead of going on that planned ride. Then in a whirlwind of graceful muscle, it's over, only the ghost of Andy Schleck's smile reminding you of why you used to be in such a good mood in the mornings.
Maybe it was just the really good espresso, though.
Unable to watch the Tour on my nonexistent TV, I was limited to following it through riders' tweets, informative blogs, and friends who gushed about the day's stage. In response to being cut out from the excitement and adventure, I tried to block it out instead, pretending that things weren't actually happening over in Europe during the week. Weekends in NYC, though. That's when the Tour could unfold before my eager eyes via Versus, the lack of sleep from passing out well past 2am only to get up 5 hours later getting pushed aside as a video camera chased Alberto, Andy, and Lance.
That tends to catch up with you, unfortunately, just when everyone hits Mt. Ventoux. Exhausted from hours of printing the night before, I slept in to a ridiculous hour [given le Tour] and booked it through the heat to NYC Velo, where a viewing of the decisive 20th stage was scheduled, along with an espresso tasting of Gorilla, Abraco, and Stumptown coffee. Caffeine, friends, and the Tour? There was no way I could resist.
The promise of such a caffeinated treat pushed sluggish blood through still-half-asleep veins and I managed to scoot into NYC Velo in just in time to watch Andy pull Lance, Alberto, Bradley Wiggins, and a lagging Frank up a giant fucking mountain that no sane person should ever attempt by bicycle. And watching the chase - punctuated by bursts of speed courtesy of Andy and those white Jawbones - I completely forgot that I hadn't had coffee all morning. I was even okay with watching, standing, as the couch and stools were all occupied by those equally addicted to
Andy le Tour.
The testy bitchery from lack of caffeine only just started to stir after Pellizotti crossed the finish line; one that was situated just over a hill that looked like it was at a 90 degree angle to the ground [wherever that was]. As Versus slowly unclenched its dominating grasp on my brain and ability to function, I was handed a good strong shot of espresso, and a Mt. Ventoux of pastries to choose from. Any smartass comment I had for friends died in my throat as I sipped brown nectar and munched on a piece of blueberry cornmeal cake from the Birdbath Green Bakery. And coming off the high that is the Tour de France, it was the perfect ending to a Saturday morning.
And, I'm almost tempted to say, the perfect ending to a summer. With no more Tour viewings until [gasp!] next year, I'm already slipping into the kind of immobilizing depression that's only appropriate for New England winters. The kind that has me staring at my bike before rolling over and squeezing my eyes shut in an attempt to fall back to sleep despite the resulting overwhelming guilt. Which actually sort of surprises me, and makes me suspect that maybe it wasn't just the coffee and pastries that had me so hooked on the Tour this summer.
Sure, it's a little late in the race [mostly because it's over], but maybe I'm seriously getting into this competitive cycling thing.