Tour Fever

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I’m pretty sure I’m coming down with something. The symptoms have been coming on for a few weeks now and -- sure enough -- day by day, they seem to be building:
I constantly glance at my huge desk calendar to make sure I haven’t scheduled meetings for... well, actually for three weeks in July.

I’ve become obsessed with the color yellow and have asked the florist to send over sunflowers every other day in July so I can pretend I’m sitting in a French field.

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I’ve hit the local travel store, frantically searching for a giant map of France. I am obsessed about hanging it on the wall in my living room and sticking in colored push pins and using highlighters outlining every back road and route through villages large and small.

Tour Fever: that’s what's ailing me.

I’ve erected a miniature Eiffel Tower on my front lawn. The neighbors wonder what’s up with that? And they ask my husband if I’m feeling OK.

I’ve taken to wearing a beret. In California. In the summertime. And I walk around saying Bon jour all day.
I’m looking into buying a poodle and I don’t even consider that a real dog.

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Tour Fever: that’s what's ailing me. I’ve got it bad now and I seem to get it every July. Many of my closest friends seem to come down with a big case of it, too, especially my husband who shares my same symptoms. I’m preparing myself for the full break-out, which will hit around July 1st. At that point, my entire being will revolve around the Tour de France. I will set my alarm and get up to watch television every morning at the crack of dawn on the west coast of California, usually around 5:00 a.m.

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Heck, I’ve gotten up as early as 3:30 to watch a stage and YEAH, I know here in the USA it’s re-aired time and time again at more reasonable hours throughout the day. But I have TF, and TF sufferers need it live – need to see it while it’s unfolding. There are no “DVR it - watch it later” stages for true TF sufferers. Sure, those afflicted will go to the DVR to review an entire 5-hour stage later, but I myself see no advantages in risking missing a single live stage. And I don’t want to risk hearing the results or details about it from others. No, thank you.

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My kids have looked me in the eye with disbelief in previous Tours when they have wanted to watch something in the evening and I’ve said, “No, we’re watching the Tour.”
“MOM!” they’ve exclaimed at me in incredulous tones, “You’ve already seen it today.” “Yes, yes, that’s true,” I say confidently to them as though I just made that exact point. I offer up no other explanation. In my head I say to myself that I might have missed something or NBC Sports might be editing it with some new information not available in the live broadcast. I can’t miss it, I have to see it, over and over, all month. By week two, TF has a stranglehold on my routine. It’s happened before…

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I inadvertently woke up my kids in the early hours of a July morning in 2003 when I screamed at the TV as a musset brought Lance Armstrong down to the ground. My kids hopped out of their beds and came running out of their rooms to check on my screaming, fearing I’d encountered a black widow spider or seen a naked man running across the lawn. Last year it was more of the same during stage 12 when Chris Froome was off his bike and running through the crowd, up Mt. Ventoux! And I was screaming at the TV: “Can he even DO that??!!” The drama!! Now they know, it’s just my Tour Fever kicking in for the month. They know because every year in July their normally reliable, dependable, steadfast Mom goes a little crazy.

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Tour Fever. It makes me happy to get up early every morning in July. It’s when I get inexplicable urges for fine French food, bottles from the Cotes du Rhône, buttery croissants and stinky cheese. It turns my life upside down for a full three weeks while I watch the greatest sporting event unfold before my very eyes. The competition, the human drama, the strategy, the failures: it all plays out on the roads of France for my personal enjoyment.

When the stage is over I write up my report for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN and go to work at my “real” job. All day I think about that day’s stage, about the winners and non-winners. I think about the teams making their transfers to the next town and resting as I go about my work day. It’s a good thing I’m self-employed because I’m quite sure my productivity level in July hovers around sea level. Any boss with an ounce of sense would fire me.

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But hey, it’s July and I have Tour Fever. Don’t you?

Image credits: Tim de Waele / Andy Bokanev / Jojo Harper