Well, I’m back from France and the Tour. I’m not sure I’m glad to be back, but here I am, on a Saturday night, checking work email, and watching “Office Space” on Bravo. The boys are in bed, A. is reading in bed, and I’m still trying to catch up and get my head back screwed back on.
The trip was an eye opener in a lot of ways. I’ve never been to France, for one thing. And I’ve never cycled in the mountains or taken a tour with a group of like minded folks. Lastly, I’ve never seen the Tour, something I’ve always wanted to see and always wanted to experience.
The cycling was hard, hard, hard but amazingly enjoyable. As enjoyable as 10 mile alpine climbs can be, anyway. I was in OK shape and climbed better than I expected to, but it was still a shock to these minnesota legs to go up the high Alps without a triple. I’ll write more about this in another post, but I learned what Phil and Paul mean by “going deep into the reserves”, a “mask of pain” and unpacking my “suitcase of courage” to get to the top.
It was harder coming back, though. I spent over a week doing something I love, in one of the worlds most beautiful regions, with a great group of people. You kind of get into a kind of zone, one where you want the activity to keep going on and on and you get to a clear mental state that’s better than the best morphine/vicodin high. You don’t want to do anything that doesn’t help you stay “in the zone”. And, after a while, you don’t know if it’s the cycling, the sights, the beer, or the travel, but you start looking at what you’re going back to – 2005 planning at work, the suburbs, an unbalanced checkbook, car trouble, American politics – and none of looks nearly as good as a couple more days climbing for two hours at 10% average grade, as sweating through the afternoon wondering if your brakes will fail on the way down the mountain or worrying that a drunk german guy will drive you over the siderail on the descent of the Lauteret.
I’m lucky that I have a great home to come back to, two beautiful boys who seemed taller when they picked me up, and a spouse who knew how much I’d love a trip to the Tour. That made it worth coming home. I’m starting to plan my next trip already. But, its good to be home.