The feeling of closing a deal, as if somehow you deserve it, you deserve it. It is a glorious emotion of pure happiness. Something so simple, so minor, so insignificant, but at the same time so important.Do you know the joy you get from discovering Tesco’s whoopsie aisle? All this joy is nothing compared to receiving an E.Leclerc cotton polka dot jersey at the Tour de France. Or a blue Kyrs summer hat. Or a Skoda shopping bag. Or a yellow LCL t-shirt that was probably made at a twentieth of the price of your tuna and mayonnaise sandwich that you devour with the same enthusiasm as if it were served in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Because nothing rivals the joy of being a spectator of the Tour de France.
Who knew that a 25 year old man could stay five hours on top of a mountain just in his bathing suit and be as happy as a man twice his age reading? The team three miles down the mountain in his camp chair needing two new legs and a new seam.
Who knew that every time a press vehicle drove down the road it would subconsciously make you scream, scream, bellow Go Go go, to raise your hands in the motion of a Mexican wave, all because said car contains someone who probably spoke to the racer you came here for.
Who knew that any non-athletic person would be so inclined to book a day off, cancel plans, spend time, hours and hours, on the mountainside, waiting to see a few dozen skinny men walk past them on their expensive bikes so very fast.
Who would have thought that after a scorching 18 months, the way to get together, share barbecues, meet old friends again, reunite family, feel what it is like to be a community, would be to find themselves crammed around a lit phone on a sometimes sunny and sometimes cold July day, watching the stuttering of a bicycle race.
Who knew that dozens of young people in their twenties tossing bags, hats, t-shirts, cookies, washing tablets and paper from modified wacky vehicles would bring unconstrained joy to a 10 year old, to a 30-year-old, to a 50-year-old, to a 70-year-old. Who knew that a gift was so precious.
Who knew that eating a week of bread, a month’s allowance of cheese, and drinking all the stock of alcohol in your fridge in a few hours wouldn’t make you feel guilty because Xavi from Bilbao, Joris from Utrecht, Fabio from Turin and Raphaël de Valence do exactly the same.
Who would have thought that finding your place, sticking to it stubbornly as the morning gives way to the intense afternoon sun, was going to crescendo until, finally, after all those beers and all those baguettes, the the first real actors, those that we did not pay to see, finally arriving on the scene would bring so much happiness.
Who would have thought that the sight of a young man dressed in yellow with a boyish air and blond hair stubbornly piercing his helmet would herald such cries of anticipation and excitement.
Who knew that spending all day on the mountainside surrounded by old friends and new strangers collecting worthless gifts was such a priceless moment that will be forever remembered.
Who knew that a bike race could bring so many smiles.
Watching the Tour de France on the Luz Ardiden, I knew.
It was then that I knew that the Tour de France is the most magical event in the world.