Le Grand Tour: Stage Four
Everything is not relative. The wind blows as it is bound to blow, regardless of my fortune. The sun shines or does not shine. Rain falls or doesn’t. All I can do is adapt to the conditions the world imposes. The world will not adapt to me, as much as I would like it to. That’s reality — harsh, unforgiving. And I had to come to terms with it.
The previous stage had left me shell-shocked. In all of my years of racing, I’d never gone so deep before. I was now afraid to suffer.
But the wind was blowing in my face once more, as if it were taunting me. Either I pressed on the pedals and began to make haste or I would be out there forever.
I’d wanted to take it easy, to save my legs for the two daunting final stages. It was supposed to be the straightforward day at just 270 kilometres.
But it wasn’t a short stage and it wasn’t easy. The world did not care that I needed a rest. The wind was blowing straight in my face. It was cloudy and wasn’t raining.
“I’m done with this,” I told Guy, through the window of the car, where he sat drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. He told me to hold back, to save energy, and keep eating. But there was no holding back. It really was all or nothing.
So, I tucked in my elbows and put my head down. I clicked my chain down a couple of cogs and focused on pedalling. I needed adrenaline, shortness of breath, the thrill that comes with fast corners. My heart needed to beat quick enough to distract me from my plight. I needed to hurt to forget I was hurting.
The best way to come to terms with the cruelty of the world is to embrace it.
I embraced it. I forgot my own pain. The world came into focus. I saw the charming farmland of Entre-Deux-Mers, its freshly-cut grass and rolling hills and tumbledown villas. We passed through stone villages and by grand chateaux. On the roads, colossal trees stood sentry.
I forgot the wind, forgot the strain in my legs. Rather, I forgot what the wind meant to me.
It would blow as it is bound to blow. I would ride as I wanted to. So, we were on the same plane — adversaries, friends, all the same.
No matter what, I would make it to Bordeaux.