"A hot day for a ride, no? Maybe I should have gone to the beach today with mon petite amie."
It's mid-July 2009 and I'm standing in line inside the Runcible Spoon, waiting to get an iced coffee. It's 92 degrees and humid outside and I've pushed myself hard on an interval workout riding up here. I'm actually on the verge of heat stroke in this weather.
Mon petite amie? What does that mean? I never took French in school growing up.
"But this is what cyclists do, no? Suffer? Even in this hot weather."
The man talking to me is wearing a red Cofidis jersey and speaking with a French accent. He had mentioned a few minutes earlier that he recently moved to NYC from Marseilles. But beyond that, I wasn't listening too closely. I just wanted my iced coffee. Before I passed out.
"There are so many cyclists out today. Maybe they have been inspired by the climb of Mount Ventoux yesterday? A beautiful battle. Desgrange would be proud."
I wish he would stop making references to obscure French people and using French phrases that I didn't understand. But no need to be rude. Besides, I've finally reached the counter and ordered. Through the haze of heat-induced delirium, I snatch the cold drink from the counter-top and start guzzling. My new French friend looks at me, amused. What do I care... like a man lost in the desert, I have a singular focus on my drink. I can think of nothing else but my large iced coffee.
"And what do you think of la grande boucle? Très magnifique, no?"
"Yes, it tastes amazing!"
Silence. And a quizzical stare.
"My friend, la grande boucle is not a food."