Category: Just Words


Jacques explains. “Location” indicates the black townships, we’ve been directed here by that very word on the lips of a nodding woman on the dirt avenue, I’m looking to buy a local SIM card. One story high, corrugated steel, off-rectilinear lots that expand or contract to the hilly contour but somehow still seem tidy, colors sing cheer and that they’re brightly painted itself enough to distinguish the boundaries.

New England Journal

Then we time trial home on a guttural roar tailwind. Threes, twos and fours trying to keep one another in sight, trying to find a gear that you don’t need to shift out of because your rigor mortis hands have trouble doing it, trying to negotiate the betrayals and the surprises of how you feel. Trying to have an April ride.

Winning the Tour de France

I never get tired of watching the crux stages of the 1989 Tour. The L’Alpe d’Huez climb where LeMond falters while wearing Yellow, the final day in the Alps when Fignon extends his lead. And then the time trial final stage. LeMond in his goofy to our eyes Oakley sunglasses and swaying on Scott aero bars, Fignon low in the drops orienting beams of intensity through prism spectacles. Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées bricks, roaring crowds. Edge of my seat, lean forward, stand while LeMond himself crumples to the ground in elation. Yes! He makes up nearly a minute over 25k, beats Fignon and wins the Tour by eight seconds.

Us fans of pro bike racing—I’ve been and am—we celebrate the history, the landscapes, the spectacle, the drama of the competitions, strategy, and micro tactics within the race. We celebrate the teams of a team sport. We celebrate the riders. I’d be deflated to learn that LeMond cheated to achieve his ’89 victory. The disappointment would be over the fact that it was something other than what I thought it was, so what I think it is must be meaningful and important. The truth of it is essential to its power to inspire and elevate, and for the simple pleasure it gives to spectate. We look for sport to be true. Or, more accurately, we look for sport truly to match what we believe about it such that, under that description that we hold inside, we feel the surge of celebration, identification, admiration, and motivation.


A long climb at the end of a long day. You knew it was coming, thought about stopping just before it and tackling it fresh in the morning but there are more hours of daylight so you accept the slopes. You left at maybe nine, it’s eight forty five. A half hour for lunch, a few chats, 20 minutes sitting in the early evening just to listen to the sounds. If it was a race or an event with a name that you registered or saved up for, then you would have paid attention to your eating and drinking, but this is a bike tour, you let your jaw drop and your eyes rise at the scenery, you smiled and waved at gauchos, you rode hard when you felt like it, dallied in arcing lazy tracks such that riders behind will shake their heads at the wobbly inefficiency of it, not realizing that their own paths are similarly precariously sinuous.

After a steep loose wet switchback you stop, you’re trembling but it’s not cold, in fact you’re sweating arms slick. But it’s colder than you think, your piss is steaming. And your breath. You’re in no danger of falling down really but you’re unsteady on your feet straddling the bike, your legs, not now turning, ache and are slow, unwilling to tense. You’re curious about the phenomenology of it, present in your attention but that’s what’s compromised so you wonder about observation but wondering is effortful and ceases. Your sense of your body as having a location is a bit behind, spatially further back from where it normally is. Perhaps it is temporally, too, like a drag on reality but you’d need an independent fixed anchor to discern that, and there isn’t one in your consciousness, could there be? (cf., Refutation of Idealism).