Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Stage 4: Dunkerque to Calais - Furious

Stage four.

The first one in France.

There are six hills to climb before the finish.

Magnus Cort is determined to keep his polkadot jersey.

Wout van Aert is determined to win, in the yellow.

Let's see how it goes.

Magnus Cort is in a breakaway with Anthony Perez.

We are way ahead of everyone else, says Magnus Cort, over his shoulder.

I know, says Anthony Perez. Let's keep going.

Can you believe this is all they are saying!

Let us slip back to the peloton where there may be more interesting conversations.

Team Philosophe have just picked up their musettes from Katherine.

They rummage inside.

What is this? cries Vello. It feels like jelly!

It must be the potjevleesch, says David. She did say we could slurp it.

I've got it! says N F S. No I haven't! It slipped out of my hands.

Have you lost it? asks Vello, licking his fingers.

No, it is at the bottom of my musette, in jelly-like pieces! says N F S. 

Calm down, says David. Pick up the jelly-like pieces one by one.

N F S picks up a jelly-like piece with his fingers.

It's hard to concentrate on two things at once, but he does it.

Christophe Laporte comes up behind.

Do I smell potch?

Is that what they call it? says Vello. What does it consist of?

Pork, chicken and veal in jelly, says Christophe. Funny food you've been given. Who's your soigneuse?

My mother, says David.

Desolé, says Christophe. Mothers always know best.

He speeds off (in order to come third, some time later).

Well, that was a more interesting conversation.

Let's move on.

Sweezus is eating a pastry flavoured with coffee and chicory.

This is more like it, says Sweezus. No salt.

Want to try for King of the Mountain? asks Arthur.

Maybe the last one, says Sweezus. What is it?

Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez, says Arthur.

I'll decide later, says Sweezus. 

Hey! says Pablo, are you losing your passion for winning? Have you consumed too much sugar? How many pastries have you eaten?

About six, says Sweezus.

Pablo determines to speak to Sirene.

Too much salt, now too much sugar. What is she thinking?

Below them two frogs on a tiny bicycle speed by, pursued by a furious Baby Pierre.

If they are saying anything, we can't hear it.

Up at the front, Jasper Philipsen fulfils his dream of winning, momentarily.

He has not realised that Wout van Aert has crossed the finish line already.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Transfer Day - Saltwater Person

The teams have been flown to Dunkerque.

From now on they'll be cycling through France, as is proper.

Team Condor and Team Philosophe are in a café, eating waffles.

Katherine is there too, and Sirene, and Terence.

They are discussing the feeding arrangements.

No offence, Sirene, says Sweezus, but too much salt makes us dehydrated.

Sorry, says Sirene. I'm a salt water person.

And it did not help, the salt water you gave us, says Pablo.

I didn't mind it, says Arthur.

Sirene smiles at Arthur.

Those sausages yesterday were quite tasty, says N F S Grundtvig.

Yeah, sausages, says Sweezus. Maybe put something like them in the sandwiches.

I do not know any French sausages, says Sirene.

A sausage is a sausage, says David.

There are many types of sausage, says N F S Grundtvig.

Can we stop talking about sausages, says Terence. 

Certainly, says Vello. What would you like to talk about?

She's got a tail! says Terence.

I haven't, says Sirene, tucking her feet under her long flowing skirt.

I saw it, says Terence.

I don't have it now, says Sirene.

My goodness! says Katherine. Did you have one at some point?

Well, yes, says Sirene. I'm not ashamed of it. But on land I need legs and feet.

Just like den Lille Havfrue! says N F S Grundtvig.

I am den Lille Havefrue, says Sirene. 

Which is? asks Vello. 

The Little Mermaid, says N F S Grundtvig. That explains all the salt she put in Team Condor's sandwich.

Cool, says Sweezus. But we do need less of it.

I am willing to learn, says Sirene. But my boyfriend likes it.

Baby Pierre, says Terence. Where is he?

He is chasing the frogs, says Sirene. He wants his spare bike back. 

NO! cries Terence. He can't have it.

That's between him and them, says Katherine. So anyway, what would you like in your musettes for tomorrow? It's a hilly stage.

Something sustaining, says Vello.

How about potjevleesch? asks Katherine. I saw it in a local market. It looked substantial but easy to digest. By the look of the texture, I believe you could slurp it.

Sounds perfect, says Vello.

What would you like? asks Sirene. looking at Arthur.

Same, says Arthur.

She smiles at Arthur again. 

He seems like such a nice person.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stage 3: Vejle to Sonderborg - Ring-riders

Another fine day, in Denmark.

The teams roll out of Vejle.

Team Condor are riding together.

Yeah, says Sweezus. Today you guys need to support me.

We always support you, says Pablo. 

Not yesterday, says Sweezus. I thought I was cactus, before the end. At least you guys got those sandwiches.

But you know what was in them, says Pablo.

It's still protein, says Sweezus. Don't you reckon?

Dead flies, says Arthur. I've had worse. But I was glad they were tiny.

The flies weren't that tiny, says Pablo.

The sandwiches, says Arthur. They were tiny.

We'll be okay today, says Pablo. Thanks to Baby Pierre's girlfriend.

Baby Pierre's girlfriend! He said he didn't have one!

Let's investigate.

Katherine is waiting at the feeding station, with Terence and a pretty young lady, in a long flowing skirt.

I'n so happy to have met you, says the pretty young lady. 

Likewise, Sirene, says Katherine. And it was kind of you to make up musettes for the boys.

O yes, says Sirene. I had plenty of time to do it, as my boyfriend Baby Pierre only wants water.

If only Team Philosophe merely wanted water, says Katherine. I had all sorts of bother. In the end I bought these funny Danish sausages.

Let me see, says Sirene. O these are our famous Ring-riders!

Dear me, are they? says Katherine. I hope that doesn't mean what it sounds like.

No, no, it doesn't, says Sirene. It's to do with horse riding.

I've got a horse, says Terence. Well I havent,  but I've got a toy one. Except I haven't, because I lost it. 

I see, says Sirene. What a lovely story!

Team Condor rides up and slows down to take their musettes from Sirene.

Tak, says Sweezus. Tak, Sirene, says Pablo. Thanks, says Arthur.

Sirene smiles at Arthur.

I hope you like salt, murmurs Sirene.

Team Philosophe trundles by, each grabbing a musette from Katherine.

Ring-rider sausages! shout Katherine, introducing a frisson of fear in the members.

But once again we are forgetting what's important.

Which is.

Who will win this?

Let us fast forward to the finish. Is it Peter Sagan? No, he has come fourth.

Is it Jasper Philipsen? No, he has come third.

Is it Wout van Aert? Surely it is? No, he has come second.

It is Dylan Groenewegen. 

Well, he deserves it.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Stage 2: Roskilde to Nyborg - Thrilling

A fine day. The sun is shining.

The teams pedal through green countryside passsing occasional houses.

You would swear it was France. 

No wait, that castle looks different! 

So much for the ambience.

Terence is waitng at the first food station with Katherine.

I'm not sure about these sandwiches, says Katherine. 

Me too, says Terence. Why?

How will they unwrap them? says Katherine.

I didn't wrap them, says Terence.

What? says Katherine. 

The frogs' ones, says Terence, and Baby Pierre's.

You made them sandwiches? asks Katherine. The frogs aren't even in it.

They are, says Terence. Baby Pierre had a spare bike and my frogs are on it.

Are they part of his team? asks Katherine.

No, says Terence. Baby Pierre didn't want them. And guess what?

What? says Katherine.

The first riders are approaching. She needs to be ready.

Baby Pierre has a girlfriend, says Terence. 

Katherine spots Sweezus, who has positioned himself near the front of the peloton.

And Sweezus spots Katherine.

He reaches out for a musette but Katherine withdraws it.

Not for you, says Katherine. These are only for N F S, David and Vello.

Uh? says Sweezus. What about us?

Katherine's answer floats on the slipstream behind him.

He hasn't got any food now, says Terence. 

That's his problem, says Katherine.

A flash! a breeze! a zoom! a wheelie! and Baby Pierre stops.

Here, says Terence. It's a sandwich.

I only need drinks, says Baby Pierre. Have you got one?

No, says Terence. Ask your girlfriend.

She's not my girfriend, says Baby Pierre. He gets back on his bike.

Vello, David and N F S pedal towards Katherine, deep in discussion about Danish national literature. 

Sandwiches! calls Katherine.

They each grab their musettes, and sail by.

Did they say thank you? asks Katherine.

No, says Terence. Were they supposed to?

I guess not, says Katherine. I'm not loving this job.

Me either, says Terence. Yay! Here come my frogs!

A tiny bicycle speeds past them, with two frogs pedalling. It's not easy to see how they do it.

We don't want any food! cries the knowlesi.

Bumhole! says Terence. Sweezus could have eaten these sandwiches.

Give them to Arthur and Pablo, says Katherine. They're just coming.

So Arthur and Pablo get sandwiches, put together by Terence, for two frogs and a pebble....(don't ask what's in them)....and soon catch up to Sweezus, who is flagging.

In Nyborg, some time later, Fabio Jacobsen is .... is he?... yes!... just pipping Wout van Aert at the finish! 

Tour de France is always so thrilling!


Friday, July 1, 2022

Stage One: Copenhagen - Wet

This is not good. It is raining.

And today it's the time trials.

Vello, David and N F S Grundtvig stand waiting.

Those open sandwiches were nice, says Vello.

They were, agrees David.

We could ask Katherine to sandwich two open sandwiches together, says Vello.

Then it would just be a sandwich, says N F S Grundtvig.

With double the filling, says David.

Exactly, says Vello. And it wouldn't fall out.

The rain is pelting down.

One by one the riders zoom round the circuit: Pont de la Reine Louise, Trianglen, Sankt Jacob, La Petite Sirene, Kongans Nitorv.

There are many corners.

Sweezus and Arthur wait their turn.

Next rider to go down the chute is Geraint Thomas.

No way! says Sweezus. He still wearing his warm-up gilet! 

Bet he's forgotten, says Arthur.

And it is true. Geraint has forgotten. 

He remembers it now, as he flies past La Petite Sirene.

Bugger! mutters Thomas.

The rain eases to a drizzle.

A spray with no visible source shooshes past.

La Petite Sirene is the only one who has noticed the culprit.

Her eye is trained to spot stones and pebbles in motion.

I would like to meet that pebble, thinks La Petite Sirene. If I could just get down off this rock thing.....

She flexes her tail.

The next riders are the lucky ones.

Yves Lampaert is one of them.

He beats the best time of Wout van Aert.

By then it had stopped raining (an advantage).

But the road was still wet (to his credit). 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Wheels Of Green

 A tiny hotel room in Copenhagen.

This is the best I could do, says N F S Grundtvig.

It is perfectly adequate, says Vello. Two beds and a sofa.

But the lady, says N F S Grundtvig. 

She's my mother, says David.

Even so, says N F S Grundtvig. She will want to sleep somewhere.

Where is she? asks Vello.

Gone to the Post Office, says David. To pick up a parcel.

And hopefully, snacks, says Vello. What are the specialities of Copenhagen?

Pizzas, burgers, hot dogs.... says N F S Grundtvig.

Those snacks are universal, says Vello. What do you eat here that's different?

Sushi is popular, says N F S Grundtvig.

 Vello begins to wonder if N F S Grundtvig has ever left Denmark.

What about open sandwiches, says David. 

Good luck eating open sandwiches while riding a bike, says N F S Grundtvig.

The door opens and Katherine enters, followed by Terence.

Katherine has a shopping bag, Terence is carrying a box.

I've bought sports drinks and various snacks for tomorrow, says Katherine. But these open sandwiches are for now. 

She unwraps the open sandwiches. 

Smoked salmon, pickled herring and red onion; roast beef, hard boiled egg and sliced cucumber; smashed avocado and mango salsa; hummus, beetroot, roasted garlic and scallions, says Katherine.

Vello rubs his hands together. It all sounds delicious.

Can I open the box now? asks Terence.

Yes, all right, says Katherine.

I need a knife, says Terence.

He shouldn't have a knife, says David.

I'll do it, says N F S Grundtvig.

He whips out a knife, and rips the box open.

Ta dah! Out shoots Baby Pierre on his tiny bicycle with its wheels of green o-rings.

He executes a wheelie, a backhop, a tailspin and a spectacular barspin.

He comes to a halt.

I've been practising, says Baby Pierre.

What is this? asks N F S Grundtvig.

Baby Pierre, says David. A talented pebble. Don't worry, he's nothing to do with our team.

No, says Terence. Nothing. He's going to be the captain of my frog team.

From the look on his face, it's clear Baby Pierre will need some persuading.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

N F S! N F S! N F S!

Copenhagen. Fine and sunny.

Today is the Team Presentation.

Team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matérieux! 

The crowd cheers! Hoorah!

Team Trek-Segafredo!


N F S Grundtvig is getting nervous. Team Philosophe is due to be introduced, next but one.

And he is the only team member present.

He scans the crowd. 

Yes! Two riders in Team Philosophe colours are pushing through it, with their bicycles.

He recognises Vello from the Zoom meeting. 

He beckons.

They arrive.

Team Philosophe! announces the announcer. François-Marie Arouet, (cheers!), David Hume (louder cheers!), and the newcomer N F S Grundtvig, who is a native of Denmark! 

The crowd goes wild.

N F S! N F S! N F S!

N F S beams. Vello and David try not to look sour.

You don't get a long moment of glory. 

Team Philosophe trundles off.

Team Condor! calls the announcer.

This will be interesting. 

Are Sweezus and Arthur even there?

Yes! They wheel their bikes onto the stage. And yes! The third rider is Pablo.

Hoorah! The Danish crowd loves Pablo, although he is Chilean, mainly because of his tender poem, A Dog Has Died.

Jeg elsker din farve! cries someone.

Sweezus wonders what that means.

Time to go.

The last team to be presented is Team Ineos.

Yes. Them.

The British tourists cheer for their team.

As we may have noticed, the frog team (Romeo-Knowlesi) has not been presented. Nor has Baby Pierre.

This is not due to the following problems:

1. Team Romeo-Knowlesi have no bicycles

2. Baby Pierre is still in a box at the post office, waiting for pick-up. 

These are problems that will be resolved.

The reason is, these guys are not on the start list. 

Frogs and pebbles (and occasionally lobsters) always ride under the radar.