Hello Bottle-istas, its Dave writing to you from a campervan on top of the Alps. I’m following the Tour de France, driving around and camping out near the last climb of each stage. In the morning I ride the last climb and in the afternoon I go into my superman phone booth and emerge as the Clean Bottle, a 7 foot tall replica of the Clean Bottle whose mission is to run alongside the riders, cheer them on and maybe score some air time.
The prologue of this adventure starts at San Francisco International airport in the KLM terminal. KLM is a Dutch airlines but for some reason every person working there was Chinese. Hey, at least I know KLM doesn’t discriminate on race. My father (and chief operating officer of Clean Bottle) dropped me off at the terminal with a bike bag and two Clean Bottle costume bags. The upside of the costumes is that they look awesome. The downside is that they don’t fold down at all, so they are in a box 63 inches tall by 2 feet by 2 feet. I scoured in the internet trying to figure out how much all this was going to cost me, but couldn’t really find any good answers.
When I got to the front desk the lady’s eyes got wide when she saw all the boxes I had. She proceeded to pull out a huge 3 ring binder and consult with 3 other people before they could figure out how much it was going to cost. They wanted $300 for each box because it was oversized in two dimensions! Plus my bike bag was overweight so they wanted another $100 over the normal fee. I took the book and saw that if your luggage is considered ‘sports equipment’ it is only $100 even if it is oversized. So, I talked to the boss and told him that the boxes were uniforms I was using for the Tour de France. At first he didn’t believe me, but I either wore him down or he took pity on me and eventually agreed to charge me the discounted rate. I’ll probably get a dutch team on the way back and they are definitely more cycling savvy. If your uniform takes up the size of a refrigerator you are not cycling. Maybe I’ll tell them I’m going to a jousting tournament or something.
Originally a buddy was going to come with me, but he has a Chinese passport and his Visa got held up. So making the flight was just me, my bike and Clean Bottle 1 and Clean Bottle 2. I flew into Amsterdam because that is where I was renting the campervan. It’s a lot cheaper to rent it there apparently.
Getting the luggage from the airport to the taxi was a total nightmare, as you can see below.
I stacked the boxes two high and couldn’t see ahead of me. After mowing down several people a kind airport worker gave me a few bags so I could get in front of the cart and tow it.
But the fun didn’t stop there. I had to get the boxes out of the airport, but they only had revolving doors. So I took them one at a time, which in itself was pretty tricky. Then 3 consecutive van cab drivers took one look at my boxes and waved me off. One kind soul named Oscar agreed and got all the boxes in. I was so thankful that I thought about naming my next son Oscar until I realized what the full name was.
The long day didn’t stop there. I got to the campervan place and it took them two hours to get me squared away. I got in the car and realized I was driving a stick. I am a horrible driver and can barely drive stick. Hmmm – a huge campervan, in a foreign country, on small mountain pass roads, with a stick shift. This is going to be interesting.
I needed to get 9 hours south to make it to Friday’s stage. I drove for 6 hours but then had to pull over at a rest stop to get some shut eye. In America I’d never sleep at a rest stop but hey I am in France. What are they going to do, threaten me with a baguette?! When I woke up the next day it was 1 pm, so I missed the stage. Oh well, safety first!
That’s the prologue. Stay tuned for stage 1.