Have you noticed how life goes in cycles? I'm not thinking so much of the lifecycle of, say, a frog, but that there are times of plenty followed by a time of barely surviving, that we can take two steps forward but then have to take one back. We recover from terrorist outrages, and then another one happens.
Well, that's my excuse for not posting for longer than usual.
For part of this time I've found myself drawn to the Tour de France which is currently being shown live on Eurosport. It's not because I am a fan of cycle races. It's not a sport that I've ever contemplated taking up, although in times gone by I did use to bike across London, braving the traffic, to get to my then office. As a teenager, I explored further reaches of my stomping ground, and I used the same two wheels to deliver newspapers. However, the last time I rode a bike to get places, 20 odd, very odd, years ago, I ended up with a slipped disc, or herniated vertebrae for those of you technically minded.
I remain a big supporter of anyone prepared to Bike To Work and trust that Jakarta's next 10-year plan, scheduled to be launched next year with a focus on ways and means of moving Jakartans around, will include the provision of cycle lanes.
I can't say that any of that is why I'm watching the Tour, which also, this year, pops into Spain, Switzerland and Italy. (Should it be renamed the Tour d'Euro?) Watching groups of youngish men making the wheels go round as they go up and down and along, grimacing as they are pursued by motorcycles bearing cameramen and fleets of cars carrying spare bikes and packed lunches is somewhat soporific. The only exciting bits are when they reach certain points where assembled crowds jostle for road space, gesticulating madly. Will any of the racers crash?
One year, long ago, I found myself at the side of the road in the Massif Central, the mountainous area of southern France, awaiting the arrival of such a group. It was preceded by a fleet of lorries from the back of which were thrown sweets and knick-knacks provided by the sponsors. Half an hour later, with a whoosh, the pelaton (main group) passed and that was it. Who won? I never knew and didn't care.
I don't care now, either.
I have the album Tour de France by the German machinists Kraftwerk, an appropriately repetitive meisterwerk. I also have the amazingly wonderful animated film, Les Triplettes de Belleville, a bizarre story of cyclists kidnapped from the tour and forced to pedal all night on a bicycle-based gambling machine located in the bowels of the Belleville French Wine Center.
So why am I watching the tour now?
Because of the amazing scenery is why, some of which I recall from my ramblings through rural France. It's a wonderful mental escape from Jakarta!