Your jersey stuck to your skin and not a whiff of air to dry it. You really need to stop, lean the bike against a tree, throw yourself on the grass, take off your shoes, lie back to look at the sky through your toes. Like the cow, standing at the side of the road, asking herself what this bizarre creature is that is gasping, spitting and racing along on his steel horse, as fast as a chicken thief being chased by the farmer. But what does she know, standing there immobile, swinging her tail under the June sun, of this crazy fatigue, of the heartbeat thudding in my temples, setting the rhythm for my flight; what does she know of my desire to get there first, that makes me go faster than a car, as if the motor was in my legs.
I cycled 300km today; 300km of stones and potholes like craters and dust like cement in my mouth. And despite all that, if a train passed right now, I’d try to beat it too! Head down, pedalling, I dare not turn around. Inside that cloud, back there, can’t you see that they are catching up on me? And the meanest one of all is Bottechia, for sure. Move those legs, allez: but I won’t wait for my captain this time, I’m heading straight for my dream of victory, like when I used to challenge my brothers at home in Belgium. Because, the bicycle, for us Buysse, is a family illness. There are eleven of us: all cyclists. “The Buyze brothers at your service”, Madam cow, even if they call us “Buysse” here in France. And even Lucien is back there in the pack giving battle for sure. When the road calls, Jules answers, but the 5,700km of this Tour are a lot to get through. And who knows where this guy behind me will come in? Where’s his cycling gear? He looks like he’s just come out of mass: maybe he is dreaming of becoming a champion too. But you cannot steal somebody’s dream; this dream today is mine and mine only.
On 20 June 1926, first stage of the Tour de France (Evian-Mulhouse, 373 km), a cow watches as Belgian rider, Jules Buysse, teammate, together with his brother Lucien, of Ottavio Bottecchia in the Automoto team, passes by. Jules goes on to win the stage: arriving in Mulhouse alone, 13 minutes ahead of his nearest rival, 23 minutes ahead of his brother, Lucien and 34 ahead of Bottecchia. But Lucien Buysse goes on to win the Tour de France. Another brother, Marcel, came third in the 1913 edition of the Tour.
Monday, 05 March 2018