I am one of President George W. Bush's gardeners. Mr. George likes to talk to me.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Eliminated from the Tour

There is a rule that to continue racing in the Tour de France, riders must finish within a certain time after the leaders cross the line. Race leaders set up this rule so that riders don't lollygag in the various shoppes and cafes around France. In yesterday's individual time trial up th Alpe d'Huez, any rider who finished with a time of more 33% over the winner's time had to abandon the race. The slowest rider in this year's tour went first, I went second, and Mr. Lance went after all the other riders. I was climbing at a good tempo up the switchbacks on my new 10-speed, enjoying the early moments of the race, when disaster struck.

Flat tire.

In most cases, a flat tire costs a rider only a few seconds. A mechanic from the team car hurries to the rider, removes the wheel, and replaces it with a new wheel. Unfortunately, the Rabobank team car was nowhere in sight.  I had to remove the flat tube, locate the puncture, glue on a rubber patch, and re-inflate the tire. It took me 22 excruciating minutes. Adding insult to injury, Daag Haus rode over my feet while I was pumping up the tire. My finishing time was 1:03:10, while Mr. Lance finished in just under 40 minutes.

I'm coming home.


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