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Monday, August 30, 2010

The Tour de Cheese?



Our last night in Meribel, we have a merry group dinner, and naturally, the talk turns to (what else) cycling, and the fun places we’ve all been to, with accompanying pictures. This leads to the following types of conversations:


Stacey: Look at all my pictures of elk and roan deer!

Me: Here’s the ostrich farm I cycle past!

Stacey: Look at all these cool castles!

Me: Umm….here’s a picture of a huge fiberglass ear of corn!

Stacey: Here’s Windsor!

Me: Here’s…..uhh…..hmm……corn…umm….hey, how ‘bout that Tour de France?


You get the idea.


I also discover that while Kevin may be a Super-Nice Person, he is NOT in fact the Nicest Person in the World, as I erroneously stated earlier. It turns out he has a fatal flaw: he hates dogs. Yes, I know. I'm shocked too. There I am, waxing eloquent about The Kone and how perfect he is, especially when he’s eating out of his Royal Highness bowl, when Kevin pipes up:


Kevin: It’s just a dog.

Me, horrified: It’s…what? Excuse me?

Stacey: Kevin, I’ve learned that when Tasha mentions Kona, I should just smile and nod and keep quiet.

Me: Damn straight!


(I’ve only recently learned that Stacey doesn’t like dogs, but we don’t discuss this at all – it’s like the third rail of conversations. She’s an awesome friend and amazing person in every other way, so I overlook this fatal flaw of hers as well.)


Me, continuing: Kevin, you have kids, right? Well, they’re just kids, aren’t they? Kind of useless, huh?

Stacey: Will a dog take care of you in your old age?

Me: Ha, do kids actually do that these days? I think not. Kona has brought more happiness and joy to me than most kids do to their parents.

Kevin: I just don’t really see the point of them. Plus those big dogs - the German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rotties - are all mean and vicious, all of them.

Stacey: And I hate it when they put their wet noses right next to your face, yuck.


My head is zipping back and forth between these two as they bond over their mutual hatred of dogs, and finally with this last comment by Stacey, I stalk off. I guess when you’re as practically-perfect-in-every-way as I am, it’s tough to recognize that other people…..aren’t.


Day Seven


So sad, our last day in Meribel. We pack up and head off, with Ade taking me and Stacey to Annecy, on the way to the airport to drop off Kevin and Sarah. I get my last bout of carsickness on the way there – ah, the memories! Note to self: stock up on Dramamine before any other traveling, just in case.


Our hotel in Annecy is, well, a shock – it’s your typical hotel in France with rooms the size of a shoebox, but after our lovely chalet, it seems particularly tiny and sad. At least we can already see that Annecy is gorgeous, and surrounded by mountains to boot, so off we go to find the bike store and my rental bike. Yay!


(2 hours later)


After finally finding the Roule Ma Poule* bike shop and waiting in line behind all the folks renting basket-bikes to toodle around town on, we get to the front and try to get my bike. Which they don’t have - at least not the small size we ordered.


French guy: But ve will have it tomorrow morning, for ze certain! You will come back and ve will have it!


I then watch in horror as FG attempts to put my saddle on their bike. Generally this is a simple procedure – you loosen the seat clamp, take off old seat, put on new one, tighten seat clamp. Here, FG doesn’t

bother with the seat clamp – at least not yet – but rather decides to take the entire seat post out, with great difficulty, grinning foolishly as he’s doing so. He whacks at it, turns the bike upside down, tries to loosen it with a hammer. Thus, when he finally gets to the point of putting my saddle on the bike, I’m not about to ask him to adjust it too much, as I’m not sure I’m up for the horror of how he might go about doing that.


Plus when he tells me to get on the bike to try it out, and he’ll hold it in place, he in fact does NOT hold it in place, and I hear him giggling maniacally as I go careening rightward into a pile of bikes, managing to unclip at the last second so I don’t in fact go crashing to the ground.


FG, chuckling: Le oops! (or whatever the French equivalent of “oops” is)


Stacey and I head out to the park across the street, which on a Saturday afternoon is the equivalent of the Chicago lakefront path on steroids. In other words, teeming with what I estimate to be billions of people. Billions. All carrying gelato and gazing about and in other words having no clue that they’re about to be run over by an errant cyclist. Stacey is used to such things, tooling around London as she does.


I, with my cornfield-cycling experience, am not. And besides…


Me: Stace, hold on, I need to adjust. This is a Clown Bike, of course. Plus the seat is tilted backwards.

Stacey: So once you fix it, we’ll go to all the closest mountains! They all go to cheese farms! Or cheese chalets, or whatever they’re called.

Me: Except this bike is still too big – and what the hell’s that knocking sound coming from the bottom bracket? Where’s Ade’s bike when I need it????

Stacey: So you don’t want to climb a mountain or six and try all the great cheeses of France?

Me: The spirit is willing, but I seriously think something might fall off this bike if I try anything too strenuous with it. How about if you go hit the mountains, test them out for me, and I’ll toodle around the lake today and trade in the Clown Bike for a smaller one tomorrow?

Stacey: Sounds good!


One nice thing about France is that they have miles upon miles of bike paths, so I set off on one of those, and only have one almost-collision, when a clueless woman yakking on her cell phone is walking across the path, then suddenly stops and makes a rapid about-face, still talking, right into my path. I think my scream is still echoing amongst the Alpian cliffs. But at least it was enough to stop her in her tracks – collision duly averted. Whew.


That evening I get the scoop from Stacey on what she feels is the most insanely hard climb she’s done to date – Col Le Semnoz – and because I’m so disgusted with my lack of cycling today, I swear, as god is my witness, that I’m going to ride up Semnoz tomorrow. One more Alp to conquer….


*Please note - if you take nothing else away from my little blog here that's sweeping the nation, please remember this one bit of advice: Never, and I repeat NEVER rent a bike from a place whose name translates to "Roll My Chicken." Thank you. My work here is done.

1 comment:

SSB said...

haha. I read the name of that shop and thought does that mean what 12 years of french class makes me think it means.