15 July 2010

Tour de France Drama

Otherwise known as: sports blogging about a sport you don't care about.

So I'm a Tour fangirl. My dad's a cyclist, and so we've watched the most highly publicized race in professional cycling since I was a young girl. The Tour de France takes place every year during the month of July and isn't strictly located in France, though much of the action does take place there. This week, there's been some flatter stages as we move out of the Alps and into the Pyrinees.

It's been a few good years for American cycling. This year, there are four American-run teams in the race. Team BMC is the one that George Hincapie, Marcus Burghardt, and Cadel Evans (who already spent a day in the maillot jaune - as race leader - during this tour) race for. Team Radio Shack is Lance Armstrong's team, and he's joined there by Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Sergio Paulinho, and Yaroslav Popovych.

But those aren't the two teams I'm going to be talking about today. There's Team HTC Columbia, whose members include Mark Cavendish, Adam Hansen, Tony Martin (who spent some time in the white jersey, signaling he's one of the best U25 riders), Mark Renshaw, and Michael Rogers. And then there's Team Garmin Transitions, and they have Julian Dean, Tyler Farrar, Robbie Hunter, and Christian Vande Velde. (The color coding is to help you when I start telling the story.)

So HTC Columbia and Garmin Transitions have not always been the best of friends. In fact, they're the closest thing the Tour has to rival teams. Last year, when George Hincapie was on HTC Columbia, the chase action by Garmin Transitions is what cost him a shot at the maillot jaune - by five seconds on the day. So there's some bad blood there. Basically, each team races first so that they'll win, and then when that doesn't happen, they'll race so that the other loses. And that's not good sportsmanship, especially for the Tour de France.

Of course, there was drama today - sprint finish, both teams have good sprinters. Julian Dean is the leadout man for Tyler Farrar, so Tyler will launch from Julian's back wheel as the line approaches in the hopes of winning the stage. Mark Renshaw is the leadout man for Mark Cavendish. They obviously both wanted to win the stage today, so it got a little heated out there. Julian Dean went from the center of the road and started drifting left, into Mark Renshaw's line. So what did Mark Renshaw do to keep his place intact? Headbutted him. He headbutted the guy five times. I mean, rule is, you can't take your hand from the handlebars within so many km of the finish, but still. Five times. (If you're not hearing that in Principal Rooney's voice, I didn't do my job right.)

So Mark Renshaw keeps his line, and he launches Mark Cavendish just like he's supposed to. Except after he launched his man, Mark Renshaw didn't keep his line. And I don't just mean that he drifted a little bit. You can clearly see on the tape that he looked behind him, saw the orange and blue jersey of Garmin Transitions on the shoulders of their sprinter Tyler Farrar, and aimed right for the guy. It looks like Renshaw was about to slam Tyler into the boards before Tyler put a hand out on his hip to tell him he was there.

For his actions today, Mark Renshaw was disqualified from this year's Tour de France.

This normally wouldn't be such a big deal, except for the fact that HTC Columbia and Garmin Transitions are huge rivals. The thinking is that the race officials wanted to cool down the rivalry and thoroughly punish one of the teams, because to tell the truth, there were other ways to penalize Mark Renshaw for what he did. Normal protocol would be that he'd lose his place in the sprint, get relegated to last place/last time, and his team would be fined. But to be DQed? This is also the first non-drug DQ. Ever. Ever. It just drives home that this was a Very Bad Thing.

Especially since this might be an issue that divides the whole peloton. Nobody's going to want to help HTC Columbia with anything now - they deserve no respect. But some riders may feel that the officials were too hard on Mark Renshaw, and that may turn the whole group into a grudgematch between HTC Columbia and Garmin Transitions - which is exactly what I think the officials may have been trying to avoid.

I'm thinking George Hincapie was right to jump ship and move teams before this got so heated...

14 June 2010

Gettin' nostalgic

So this morning, I had my last tutorial in the Oxford system. I'm done with philosophy forever. I leave on Thursday for a family trip to Ireland, so this is my last few days in the country.

It's unbelievable. I can't believe I'm not coming back next year. This has only been a year-long study-abroad program, but somehow I feel like I belong here and that I ought to be coming back. I've done pretty well here academically - it fits my style of learning.

And this country has been good to me. I love England. I love walking around in the city here and taking in the sights. I've grown to love the food here. Everything here in Oxford is so charming - pubbing, ice cream, all the things I've been able to do here. It's unbelievable. I just can't believe I won't be back.

It's been charming living in The Future, but it'll all be over soon.


- Jen -

19 May 2010

Dear Internet,

Last night I had the most awesome dream.

It was about Twilight, but it made Twilight seem about one hundred times cooler than it really is. I was Bella Swan, but I was actually kicking some major tail instead of relying on boys to do it for me. Also, somehow, this was supposed to be in the continuity of Eclipse but Bella-me was pregnant with a normal human baby... so apparently Edward was human? And they had sex before marriage? I don't know, I didn't ask many questions. All I know is, there was this awesome romantic walk around a lake that looked like the lake at the Columbus Zoo, and there were some cuddly lovey moments, and then we got to this lake house and there was a big vampire fight where I hurt people and delivered great justice, Black Widow-style, even though Bella-me was, like, two months pregnant.

Then I did some hanging out with Jacob? I think. It was snowing out but it didn't seem cold, because he had massive body heat that was creating some kind of bubble shield around us that melted the snow. I think. I don't remember. Then we went to some kind of picnic with other supernatural creatures and he left for a while.

I do remember this part, though: I met Nathan Fillion in my dream. I don't know what part he was supposed to be playing, but I remember asking him how old he was, and he said "Five thousand, three hundred and sixty-two." And I was pretty amazed by that. He wasn't a vampire, either. Might've been some kind of angel or demon. And then I asked him what ancient Egypt was like, and we had a few laughs over it, and then I was told that it was creepy that I was talking to him, because Bella-me was seventeen and this guy looked like he was in his forties.

Then I was hanging out with Alice, Rosalie, and Esme. We were sitting at some kind of special booth for the taping of a late-night show? Or something. Rihanna was featured because she was in a new superhero movie coming out and her costume was creating a bit of controversy (basically, the bottom of it was like a souped-up thong). But I got to watch Rihanna kick some tail Black Widow-style again. It was funny, too, because at every time where you'd think the mooks she was beating up would bleed, they'd just show this strip of hot pink fabric. I pointed it out to Alice and we just laughed our heads off.

Then I woke up and realized the whole thing was kind of creepy. Okay, a guy that looks forty-three hitting on a girl that is mortal and only seventeen is creepy enough. But in my dream, Nathan Fillion was over five thousand years old. That goes way beyond pedophilia/ephebophilia in my book. And it made me think twice about Edward, too. He's 109 years old in the books. And he's hitting on a seventeen-year-old that he wants to eat. How come this never set off red flags for people?

... I just wanted to brag that Nathan Fillion was in my dream last night. Carry on.

- Jen -

16 May 2010


So I've been really sick since Tuesday. I'm finally starting to feel better, thankfully, although 100% might not happen until tomorrow... but tomorrow the dining hall is serving spicy Indian food so we'll see how long that lasts. (I might just get some kind of takeout tomorrow. Why do they insist on serving food that makes me sick and giving me no other non-spicy option?)

I just realized today: my last tutorial is four weeks from tomorrow. I'm done with my final Third Week here as of tonight. I can't believe how fast the time has flown but at the same time it feels like I've been doing this forever. (Especially since I've been really sick twice now. Time goes by much more slowly when you're sick. I hate that.)

Kate was hosting a friend of ours, Ryan, this weekend. Last night we went to the Eagle and Child for dinner. For those of you who don't know, the Eagle and Child was where Tolkien hung out all the time, and one of the creative writing groups here, the Inklings, still meets there. It's kind of cool. I obviously didn't get to try any of their 'real' food since I just stuck to the vegetable soup, but it seemed like a nice enough place. At least I can say that I've been there.

That's all for me right now. I have to get back to work or I'm really going to regret having been ill.

- Jen -

09 May 2010

Mother's Day

Today is US Mother's Day. (The one in the UK was back in March; I celebrated with Mom when I was last home.) So remember to call home, get in touch with the ladies in your lives that are mothers, and let them know how much they're appreciated.

I'm also remembering my grandmother today. It's our first Mother's Day without her, so it's going to be a little rough, but we'll make it.

On another note, I'm sad that I won't be home today. If I were at ND, today I would have been home by now. Actually, I would have been home whenever my finals got out. As it is, I have my last tutorial five weeks from tomorrow. Five weeks. It feels like it's going to be a long time, but five and a half weeks from now, my mom, dad, and brother are going to be visiting me and I'll get to show them Oxford for a few days before we go to Ireland. And that's going to be exciting.

So yeah. This is a blog entry to tell my mom that I'm thinking about her, and also to whine that I'm still in school right now. Oh, and that I keep breaking my right thumbnail (the one that hits the spacebar) because I'm internetting/creative writing way too hard. I swear, sometimes I'm the nerdiest nerd to have ever nerded.

If you're traveling home today from college, safe travels. If you're still in school with me, good luck.

- Jen -