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Gear Prudence: In what my wife has called an early onset midlife crisis, I’ve gone all in on cycling and I’m watching the Tour de France this summer for the first time. I’ve done some cursory Googling and think it will be a showdown between Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal. (They’re good, right?) You don’t normally write about pro cycling, but do you have tips on how best to watch a bike race on TV? —Live, Entertaining Television Of Unique Race
Dear LETOUR: There are two registers upon which you can enjoy the Tour: 1) as a premier cycling event in which some of the best athletes in the world undergo a grueling contest of mind-boggling rigor, and 2) as a kind of rolling Rick Steves program full of swooping helicopter shots of lush landscapes and villages of minor import during the Albigensian Crusade. (“Honey, it’s that village of minor import from the Albigensian Crusade!” you’ll say excitedly to your wife, who hopefully ignores you.) While the scenery is gorgeous and your Francophilia will become unbearable, the point of watching a bike race is to watch a bike race and you’re in for a treat.
The best part about a stage race is that each day is a mini race within the larger race with its own terrain, tactics, and drama. You can track the overall leaders and enmesh yourself in whatever excitement, tragedy, and/or wackiness unfolds that day. While some stages are more exciting than others (time trials and mountain stages being paramount, generally), you’ll derive maximum enjoyment by embracing each day as its own self-contained episode. —Gear Prudence
Gear Prudence: On nearly every bike commute, the same rider says, “Hi [my name]!” I always greet him back, but I have no clue who it is or how I know him. With his helmet and sunglasses, he looks pretty generic. How do I figure out his identity without admitting that I didn’t recognize him? —With Helmet On, I’m Stumped. He’s Exasperating
Dear WHOISHE : Is it really that embarrassing? Helmets and sunglasses do obscure faces (Lois Lane couldn’t even overcome a pair of regular spectacles) and if you’re riding one way and he’s riding the other, a cursory hello doesn’t give you a ton of time to suss out much detail. Sure, no one wants to overlook a friend, but there is a certain degree of difficulty here.
If you absolutely have to know who it is, just wave him down. A closer look from a stationary position and a conversation longer than “Hi [your name]” should do the trick. If you still get nothing, do what any reasonable person would do: Pretend that you’re your own twin, introduce yourself with a different name, tell him that he’s been mistaking you for your sister, and ask his name. Simple. —GP