Yesterday a special event was taking place close to where we live, and that event was that all public roads around Murtensee had been closed off so that people could run, walk, bike, or rollerblade around the lake, or if they were really adventurous, clown-cycle their way around the lake on an old school penny-farthing.
Dan and I went with his aunt and uncle, and while his aunt rode her bike the the rest of us donned our rollerblades. It was a gorgeous day, and the towns we went through were right out of a picture book: medieval stone walls, Roman amphitheatres, hills covered in hibernating grape vines, shuttered windows (and shuttered windows! and shuttered windows!), twinkling lake views, stone houses being enveloped in budding ivy, flowering trees, and flowering bushes and flowering flowers. Now would be the part when I should provide you with photographic evidence of these small towns that oozed with so much charm, my rollerblade wheels got stuck in the stickiness of honey-sweet nostalgia.
Even though I packed my camera, I didn't take any pictures.
Though the photo ops were endless, so too were the people. I am not kidding when I say that thousands (as in plural) of people had turned out for this event. As we navigated the 30km course, there were many times when traffic literally stopped as we were all clogged up together like bees waiting to perch on a flower petal. At times the amount of people did feel claustrophobic, especially as a lot of stalling happened on uphill sections of road, and let me tell you that wearing rollerblades and trying to fight through crowds going uphill is not exactly enjoyable: the rollerbacking is sort of terrifying if you can't keep your momentum going.
Dan had told me there would be a lot of people so even though the sheer number did cause me to raise my eyebrows, I wasn't overly surprised: this is a small country with a lot of people--crowds happen. What did surprise me was how much of an event this was.
All along the route there was music blaring, there were drink tents handing out free Apple-Cranberry carbonated juice (delicious!), sponsors handing out little adrenaline gummies (whee! So sugary!), free granola bars, beer tents, roasted chicken tents, grilling stations, pie stations, ice cream stations, first aid stations, and 'garages' for free bike or blade repairs. It was an absolute blast.
I especially loved the guy who was dressed up like a grilled sausage, waving around a really huge stick with an actual grilled sausage speared to the end, and grooving around to Lady Gaga's Alejandro. If that isn't marketing I don't know what is.
Whizzing by some of these free tents, with people rushing out at you with free beverages, or granola bars, or coupons for 5% off Migros Bio products (though getting a 5% off coupon for something already unaffordable is like being kicking in the groin and being told you won the lottery) was exhilarating.
SO THIS IS WHAT BEING A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE IS ALL ABOUT.
No wonder Lance Armstrong keeps going back to do the Tour de France. People running alongside you, handing you free stuff, it's the best! I have decided that from now on, when I go grocery shopping, or clothes shopping, or want to pick up some take-away, all I want to do is rollerblade by these stores while the employees run alongside me handing me everything I need while cheering me on and telling me how great I am.
Yes please, that sounds fab.
I think I'll even craft my own plastic bracelet, sponsored by Nike, to hand out to people as a fashion trend a la those yellow Livestrong bracelets that were so huge. I think mine will be a nice vibrant spring green, and it will say something like Liveawesome.
Because yesterday, we were living awesome. As we pulled away from free tents, or fought our way out of the uphill crowds, the path was always clear and you could really pick up speed and and blaze along the roads. However, by about kilometer 25 I thought, 'Well, I've had all the fun I want to for today! Are we there yet?'
Then by about kilometer 25.5 I thought, 'Surely, we must be there now?'
By about kilometer 25.75 I was ready to hurl myself into the lake.
Then a little kid passed me and I thought, "Oh hell no! I will not be passed by a tyke on a trike!" So I wolfed down some more adrenaline gummies and finished those last five kilometers with a burst of manufactured energy.
If you need to find me today, I'm on the floor. I will be conducting all meetings, all phone calls, all dinner preparations from the floor. I'd like to get up, but my legs are threatening to go on strike and detach from my body because of the unfair working conditions. Apparently in their contract there's some fine print that mentions something about stretching or whatever. I didn't read it.
Probably should have.
(From the floor.)