The Tour de France (how it can ruin your life and also still be the best)

By James Finch-Penninger @FishysCP

BrakeDown Podcast founder

Slightly melodramatic title I know, but it is born out of the self-loathing that I currently feel. I stood up a woman on a first date for the first time in my life.

Just the bare details; I met a lovely woman (we’ll call her Connie) at a speed-dating function last week and we agreed to meet up again after a series of promising messages. I then proceeded to sleep through the lunch time date (dinner dates weren’t an option with me working the graveyard shift for Cycling Central later in the week), waking up two hours past the time I was supposed to be sitting down in a Sydney cafe and feeling more than a bit sheepish.

Whilst I’ve never been in the situation of being stood up before, I have recently waited in an election queue by myself, so I can imagine that the frustration of waiting for very little purpose is intensified when you have one person who you can directly point the finger at,

Whilst I could blame myself (and have), the Tour de France looms as a convenient scapegoat, for who knows how many budding relationships have fallen, like a rider in the middle of the bunch to be ridden over by the peloton like an unfortuante Alberto Contador?

When I woke up this morning at 4 am after having watched the stage where Marcel Kittel won by virtue of a slightly less worn front tire, I was momentarily perplexed. Did I have a morning shift today (where the Cycling Central staff are in at 5 am to get the news, highlights and feature stories out to you guys before the crack of dawn) or is it just a reflex designed to avoid missing work? Turns out it was the latter and what I didn’t account for was my my body’s laziness in deciding that having a break on an early wake-up call was the chance to catch up for all the sleep it has missed in the past few days, sending me into a unconscious state until 2 pm.

I missed the date (also the podcast episode with Phillip Gomes and Anthony Tan that I cancelled on to free myself up for the occassion) and as I was sending remorseful messages to Connie I found myself questioning whether it was all worth it.

Seeing a prediction almost vindicated with Bryan Coquard coming within whispering distance of a maiden Tour victory, an exciting finish to end another enjoyable Tour de France stage sends you off to bed in a good mood. It makes it easier to explain away the dark rings under your eyes, any scatter brained mistakes and stuff-ups. Certainly that’s what I tell myself in a sleep-deprived state the next day.

But do those that aren’t initiated really understand? When i found myself making excuses to the thankfully very understanding Connie, I wondered how much a non-cycling fan can really relate. I’ve at least got the excuse that I get paid for watching the race, commenting and writing about it. For others, when you tell people that you’re up to all hours of the morning watching cycling a lot of people’s immediate response is why?

Why? The reason we watch is surely love of a different kind. For me, it’s the love of the tactics, the high-speed action and the ever-changing backdrop that provides the setting for the most beautiful sport in the world. I’m sure that others have their own reasons for staying far later than is sensible to watch 200 men in lycra competing to see who can come up with the fastest way to go up a mountain.

Will this latest incident change anything? No.

I’ll still be the guy with the dark rings, caffeine addiction and insomnia for the next three weeks, but with a more sturdy double alarm system. The reason I ended up writing this article was because I thought that it might be a good chance for Tour de France watchers all around the nation to show their significant other, boss or friend something to say ‘at least I’m not this guy’.

Hopefully this can be a cathartic safe-place for myself and others to unburden themselves about how their cycling viewing addiction has affected their lives and relationships, or maybe just a spot where we can come together to discover the best excuses for why we are asleep at very odd hours.

By James Finch-Penninger @FishysCP

BrakeDown Podcast founder

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