Monday, July 2, 2012
When There's No One Around.
I'm writing this with the double edged sword of time passed - sure, hindsight helps, but my memory ain't so great. FJ and I had been riding earlier in the day, and apparently this fatigue sickness isn't abating as quickly as I'd like it to. In short, I was wrecked.
At around 6pm we headed down to Docklands to watch Essendon play Footscray. It wasn't a great car ride. FJ sung along to the stereo and I stared into the road ahead. When the fatigue strikes I'm pretty much useless to anyone - I can't talk, I can't move so great, I can barely think. There was only one thing for it. Artificial stimulation.
Once we'd pulled into the parking lot, bought tickets and located our seats, we set about hitting up the snack bar. The "Healthy Foods" section was disturbingly empty, but it serves themselves right for not having any vegan options. We settled on some dubiously vegan chips and a couple of Cokes. It didn't solve the problem, but it was close enough - no regrets. I also picked up the Footy Record, and let FJ do the wordsearch while we waited for the game to start.
When the opening siren went it was obvious that the game was going to be a one sided affair. There were some pretty smooth skills on display, but only by the Bombers. It was good watching from an aesthetic point of view, but there wasn't a whole lot of passion involved. We kicked back and relaxed, made some vague comments about the game, tried desperately to stay warm and stretched out. The Footscray fans in front of us left at half time, so we were able to kick our feet on the seats, sprawl out a little. Even the security guards didn't seem to care.
Eventually the final siren sounded and we found our way out of the stadium. Rolly had organized a party at Duggan's house, in part to celebrate the beginning of the tour, but mostly to celebrate his birthday. After we drove around West Melbourne for a while, trying to find Duggan's place, we stormed up some stairs and burst into the house, to be greeted by a ten foot screen and box upon box of beers, both ginger and otherwise.
The only thing missing was Rolly. Apparently he had started at The Worker's Club - a bar I swore off when it stopped being The Rob Roy - and was having a little trouble leaving. He missed the first couple of riders, but really, the prologue was a 6.4 kilometre time trial - pretty much nothing interesting was ever going to happen until the last hour or so - and even that was a generous estimation.
When he eventually rolled in - no pun intended - he had a whole bunch of rad blokes with him. The noise in the apartment skyrocketed. Gene promptly snuggled up into Duggan's swag and fell asleep. Benzy was drinking some ridiculous Vodka Cruiser flavour and gave it a surprisingly positive review. Sime and FJ yelled to each other across the room. Rolly danced in front of the screen. I was still totally wrecked, and no amount of ginger beer could recuperate me, so I pretty much just kicked back and enjoyed the lolz.
In front of us - in pretty close to life size - cyclists were tearing themselves inside out. Sylvan Chavanel, with his strangely aerodynamic face, set a hot time early, but was destined to be usurped as the big guns stepped up. First Wiggins - the former track pursuiter, no stranger to turning himself inside out over comparatively short distances - took over the hot seat, then Cancellara made it his own by a massive seven seconds. The rowdiness in Duggan's living room increased significantly - except in Gene's case, because he was still asleep.
As last year's winner, Cadel was last out of the gates. He'd already talked down his chances, and he had a point - the course was far too short for him. By the time he'd finished he was eleven seconds or so down on Wiggins, but three weeks of cycling is a very long time, and he didn't seem too concerned. Nor did any of the rest of us. We piled out the door and into the street. I went looking in my bag for something and found a handful of mandarins. Before I knew it folks were pelting them at each other in the cold, cold night. Man, getting hit by one would've stung.