the Tour of Friendship is a curious beast, at once appropriately named, yet also oddly inappropriate. i mean, how can a bike race truly be friendly? surely by our very nature we’re essentially a bunch of cranky spanners, right? cast out by The Norms, with their jigsaw puzzles and politeness, a grip on their tempers and devoid of the need to kick the crap out of themselves, we chunder our thunder in streams of carb-loaded bile on… well, ourselves and people just like us.
no two ways about it people, we are fucking weird.
the last time i was here was back in 2009, at the very start of my then-nascent stage racing career, and there was one very amusing post-stage hullabaloo at the finish line. a white guy who lives in Thailand was dishing out some ire at some Philippino guys, who forehanded it right back, as you do.
at one point, said white guy pointed a bony finger at his rivals and shouted:
‘shut up! you’re not even from here! you’re Malaysian! this is MY COUNTRY!’
at which point all involved fell completely silent and looked at each other, not quite able to confront the ill-logic they’d just heard.
quite hilarious. they then all stomped off to the car park behind a convenience store and no doubt ended up hugging and swapping email addresses soon afterwards.
definitely the Tour of UnFriendship…
but i’m being too harsh, partly for comic effect, i love you guys really, and you may be weirdos but you’re MY weirdos!
anyway this is a kind of elite amateur race with various categories, some are more elite than others, and the atmosphere in the race may well be full on but afterwards it is a real breath of fresh air. in fact, i am still in touch with several of the guys i met back in 2009 and a few of them are here now too. there’s a lot of chatting and interacting and heck, even the odd beer washed back after a stage – and sometimes with people not on your own team!
yes, a world away from the UCI circuit, and to be honest, far from worse off for it.
anyway i’m rambling. yesterday your very own crankpunk managed to snag the win in the opening 7km ITT, and today managed 3rd on the 130km stage after a bit of a Battle Royale up the final climb. me and the other chaser almost caught the guy from the Confero Mavericks team that got away at the very start of the race, and might well have done had the last 3km of the race not been cut without our knowledge – though that is to take nothing away from the solo ride, it was quite an epic.
in fact, i found myself at one point hoping he would stay away for the win, such had been his effort. didn’t last long though, i was soon back into grrrrr mode….
tomorrow is a 170km over rolling hills all day, should be fun.
let us crank on.