Leisure Martyrs: When Vacations Attack

Trend watch!  You know what's hot, hot, hot?  Dastardly schemes involving small pointy things!  First some scalawag put tacks all over the road during the Tour de France, and then some culinary terrorist put schpilkes in a bunch of airline turkey sandwiches:

But don't worry, because Delta Air Lines is on the case:

Delta Air Lines Inc. is trying to figure out how needles got into turkey sandwiches on four flights from Amsterdam to the U.S.

If I were a Delta executive, my first step would be to fire the catering service that is buying its turkeys from Needle Farms.  Then again, the only reason this incident even made the news was because it affected business class passengers:

The sandwiches were prepared in the kitchen of a catering company in Amsterdam, and some were served to business class passengers on Delta flights. After the needles were found, passengers got pizza instead.

Anyone who flies economy knows it's perfectly normal to find sewing needles in your sandwiches.  In fact, sometimes they don't even bother putting food around the needles and they just serve you a sewing kit.  Sure, it's not very tasty, but it will tide you over until the drink service, at which point the flight attendants just pour scalding hot water in your crotch because they're phasing out cups.

Speaking of the Tour de France, last week I got in trouble for including a "spoiler" in a post, and now this morning I've gotten a taste of my own medication.  There I was, scarfing Froot Loops and blissfully unaware of today's Tour de France results, when I started pawing at my smarting phone and did observe the following tweet:

I can't believe "Bicycling" totally spoiled the rest day for me!  You know, I work hard all day preparing airplane food, and when I get home I look forward to plopping down on the couch, cracking open a beer, firing up the DVR, and watching the day's stage.  And as any cycling fan knows, there's nothing more exciting than turning on the TV after a long day and finding out that there's "fuck-all" going on because it's a rest day.  So when you take that away from me I have nothing.  It makes me mad enough to slip some sewing needles into some sandwiches.


Meanwhile, in other Twitter news, one user seems to really want me to follow something called the "#revetour," because she sent me this Tweet:

As well as this one:

As it happens, I have not been following the "#revetour."  I did see something about it at some point, but I ignored it, since when it comes to the Tour de France I'm really only interested in the riders who are awesome at it--you know, the ones who are actually in the race.  I'm not interested in following amateurs who are riding the Tour de France route for the same reason I'm not interested into going to Lincoln Center while the New York Philharmonic is performing Beethoven's Ninth and instead listening to some crappy musicians who are trying to play the same thing on the sidewalk outside.

Nevertheless, after the second Tweet I figured I should at least check it out, so I first set out to get some background on it and here's what I learned:

We’re riding the Tour de France.

Six amateur women including myself. Every last stage of cycling’s most beloved race. Every last kilometer. All 3,479 of them.

There, I said it.

(How do you announce such absurdity?)

What's absurd about it?  It sounds like fun.  More than that, it sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Still, I read on:

In July our small team goes to France with Rêve Grand Tours as part of a project imagined and then brought to life by Michael Robertson, the talented photographer behind Velodramatic (and Creative Director for Rêve). The idea, born over a shared dinner while we were both on assignment last December, is simple: give a small group of women the opportunity to take on the biggest cycling challenge in the world, document the process and tell the story. 

With support from a host of generous sponsors, we will be shuttled, sheltered and cared for day by day. The hotels are booked, the transfers are arranged, the pieces are in place.

Sponsors?  Shuttled?  Sheltered?  Cared for day by day?  Outside of the cycling world, that's what's generally known as a "free vacation."

This isn't to say that following someone's vacation can't be interesting or entertaining.  For example, I enjoy the Anthony Bourdain show "No Reservations," and those episodes are basically vacations.  All he's really doing is flying to exotic locations and stuffing his face.  The crucial difference though is that while normal people enjoy their vacations, cyclists formulate contrived narratives in which they struggle to conquer their vacations:

At night I put my headphones in and close my eyes and set negativity to the side. In it's place I invoke gratitude, compassion, kindness. In the van during the transfer I read your emails, tweets and Facebook messages and think about what this means to all of you in an attempt to figure out what it all means to me. I spent the first 10 or 20k of every ride repeating optimistic thoughts to myself, bringing good energy to the table. Trying to ride from a place of joy instead of a frustration. Trying to hold this in my heart in a special way because the time is flying by and there is going to be a day that I wake up and think, "Did that really happen?"

This is precisely when I switch off.  Why does she need to "figure out what it all means" to her?  It means you're going on an awesome bike vacation!  What cyclist wouldn't want to ride around France for three weeks for free?  Is the challenge really "trying to ride from a place of joy instead of a frustration?"  Or is it simply finding the time to do it in the first place?  Even I, someone who ostensibly writes about bikes for a living, and for whom a "hard day's work" means having to censor naked ladies on recumbent bikes, am lucky if I can find three hours a week to ride a road bike, much less three whole weeks in a row.  Meanwhile, professional bike vacationers just insult you by taking a cycling dream scenario and then telling you how awful it is:

These days do not come without consequences. I'm tired and torn up: saddles sores, cramped feet, permanently numb fingers. That's just the daily stuff. You ride until it all goes away, replaced by a middle ground of calm and determination. Pain is just a sensation, like love or happiness or anything else. Experience it, ride through it, ride past it.

This is like starving to death while listening to someone talk about how they're struggling to finish an entire turkey.  (That's a sewing needle-free turkey, I should add.)  And it's not like they're required to enjoy all of it.  Sure, there's such a thing as too much turkey, just like there's such a thing as too much cycling.  But you know what you do when you have "saddle sores," "cramped feet," and "permanently numb fingers?"  You quit!  Just stop it already!  You're not in the real Tour de France!  "Stoepid Week," "#revetour," every Rapha ride ever... How many leisure martyrs does one sport need?

Then again, I suppose I'm a bit of a hypocrite, because I was thumbing through the journal I kept on my last vacation when I read this:

These days do not come without consequences.  I'm sunburned and sick from margaritas and dark and stormys.  There's sand in my crotch and my Ray-Bans are digging into my temples.  That's just the daily stuff.  You sunbathe until it all goes away, replaced by a middle ground of swimming and napping.  Luxury is just a sensation, like love or happiness or anything else.  Experience it, sleep through it, use sunscreen.

Of course, package vacations can be rough, and shortly after that I was arrested for trying to buy a small quantity of "Wednesday weed" from one of the resort employees and subsequently spent the next 14 months in a local prison that made the prison in "Papillon" look like a Sandals®.  But I'm not one to complain.

But whether it's riding around France for three weeks or lounging on the golden sands of an exotic island somewhere, it's important to stay hydrated.  That's why there's Flexline Hydration, as forwarded to me by a reader:

(If video does not play, watch it here.)

Flexline uses Sexually Suggestive Technology (SST®) to keep you hydrated during your workout, and it's easy to use.  Simply brush your hair aside, place the nozzle in your mouth, and suck gently:

When not in use, the Flexline's rigid shaft just sort of hovers in front of your face, and the nozzle occasionally grazes your slightly-parted lips:

But Flexline isn't just for runners.  It's also great for cyclists.  Just lean forward and get to work:

Other hydration systems are difficult to use while riding.  Either they require lots of groping and feeling around, or else they just hang there flaccidly over your shoulder.  The Flexline, however, is always ready for action:

So when you're thirsty you can just bring it to your mouth:

And you can keep it there while you work the controls with both hands:

Best of all, the patented Autofellatio Technology keeps the fluid source between your legs, while the extra-long shaft provides a turgid yet flexible conduit to the mouth:

Finally, a hydration system that's convenient to use with your H-Zontal bike:

As I always say: stay hydrated and prone, because upright and thirsty is no way to go through life.

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