Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Tour de Lance, Day One

Years ago I was a big Lance Armstrong fan, but I've cooled off quite a bit because of some unheroic choices he made regarding his marriage and family and the way he has consistently thumbed his nose at the hundred-year-old cycling traditions in Europe. Cycling is closer to being a religion than a sport there, and the skinny Texan hasn't always respected that. But I'll still be parked in front of my TV for a while today and on a fairly regular basis during the next month because the guy is just plain fascinating to watch.

Much as my Number One Son would like it, I'm not planning to turn this in to a bike blog. I'm bringing all this up because I've just had my first look at the line-edited manuscript for my upcoming book, which features a hero who owns a bike shop and is a semi-pro cyclist. If any of you follow cycling and care to know this (and even if you don't and you don't), I didn't model my hero's physical attributes on Lance Armstrong but on his teammate George Hincapie, who has pushed Lance to six Tour de France victories and who happens to have some very cool pics on his website.

I don't really care if Lance brings home a seventh win or not. But I'd like to see George continue to do well. Here's a snippet from the bio on his site:

In the midst of his most successful year to date, George Hincapie is quickly becoming one of the most recognized riders in the world. Coming off a tremendous second-place finish at Paris-Roubaix, and being the only American to win the Ghent-Wevelgem and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne classics, George Hincapie has been hailed as “America’s premier classics rider.” He is a nine-time Tour de France veteran and is the lone teammate to have played a pivotal role in all six Lance Armstrong victories.

Turning a corner, you writerly types might want to check out this Emerging Writers Forum interview from last fall. Author, cyclist, and English professor Mike Magnuson made some pretty funny and interesting comparisons between cycling and writing. I'll go ahead and issue a profanity alert for those who might be bothered by such things, and I'll give you this PG-rated (for violence) sample of Magnuson's wit and wisdom: play hard, at any sport, you’re gonna get hurt. You ride bicycles, when you do get hurt, you’re REALLY gonna get hurt. We’re talking about skipping your body over pavement at fairly high speeds--20 or 30 or 40 miles per hour--and while you may walk away from such a crash, you’ll be limping. Definitely. And bleeding. And you’re gonna be a hurting unit for days and weeks and sometimes months or the rest of your life. But it’s not like you haven’t known all along that crashing is a possibility. So you get injured, you don’t feel sorry for yourself. You heal and get back into shape and get out there and ride again.

I’d say the experience is identical to publishing books. When you publish a book, you know it’s doomed from the get-go, that it won’t be a smash hit or even a completely minor one-day blip on the radar, that people will write horribly mean things about it on or not even bother writing about it at all, and two or three months after the book’s publication you will be busted to emotional bits and hardly able to put one word after the other because writing’s so pointless....

The pavement is there waiting for us, but so what? We aren’t able to stop seeing the world the way a writer sees it, which is as a thing to be recorded, which means, one way or another, we will go on recording it. We will live in the hope that the next time we crash, it won’t be our last.

Uh...yeah. What he said.

I think I'll go watch some TV now.


Marvin said...

Do you have a new book coming out?

Brenda Coulter said...

Not until next March, Marvin, but it's in the pipeline now. I just got the line-edited manuscript back from my editor and am reviewing her changes.

Are you the Marvin from Faith*in*Fiction, or is there another Marvin running loose on the internet?

Small Blue Thing said...

Good choice. I'm an eurotrash girl following El Tour, like a good spanish only-daughter should do togheter her daddy... :)

Blue Thing

PS: I'd like to know if you will be presenting your work in any East Coast City on august. I'll drop by Phill and it would be a pleasure to meet you.

Brenda Coulter said...

Blue Thing, it's good to hear from you again. I'm sorry that I won't be anywhere near Philly in August. It would be awfully nice to have a cup of coffee with you.

Do you have a favorite for the Tour?

Small Blue Thing said...

Not this year, people. Spaniards are too much focused on Alonso's races to worry of another guy far away... :)

Pity we could not taste that cup of coffee. It will be a pleausure meet the real North America anyway, I swear you.