me being off i decide to chance it and arrive in paisley with some 200-300 others still suspecting it might be a hoax, despite the police, until the man himself rocks up in a car, gets his gear out of the boot and gets ready to set off. just like everyone else, except this being la, he's surrounded by a scrum of reporters and folk. there is no money that would make me want to live that sort of life.
he's smaller, slighter than i thought, maybe about my height but no body fat and his legs wiry. beside him i'd resemble a bulldozer, even now when i've let my arms skinny down a bit. standing beside him even if i lost a stone and a half (which would be madness!) my legs would never look like that. when i was young my sister wouldn't let me wear shorts round the house as she thought my legs were ugly, misshapen. they're skaters legs, sprinters legs, all about the power not the stamina. you can read a cyclist by his legs (of this more later)
i'm impressed with his reception and he seems genuinely at ease with it. around the forums there's the usual anti-la stuff but today there was a real feeling of warmth, despite the rain. it was as if pele or maradona had posted a note asking people to turn up for a kickabout, almost surreal, especially in paisley, where you're more likely to get stabbed or die of a heart attack than go for a mass bike ride. but that's what we do. off lance goes and we follow, dodging the photographers and suddenly we're away a great phalanx of us, the click of hundreds of shoes into pedals, the shifting of gears. now we are a peloton and we stop for no traffic, no red light. i drift back, it's amazing that there isn't a massive pile up given the conditions.
maybe 20 or 30 club guys stay up front with la and i'm way too ginger and stiff from yesterday to be risking catching them. then the first hills and they're gone into the distance leaving the rest of us stuck behind cars or in chasing groups. with less people i can enjoy the pace more and fly back to paisley. i pull a few folk along in a group, enough to be happy with my form. but of lance, no sign. i hear him come back just after i've left for the van, diving into the hotel prior to his u2 concert tonight.
and then the long drive back along the m8, as congested and foul as ever. idling in the traffic i think of notions of simulacra, the un-reality of the event as we see it on tv, la as legend suddenly thrust into being. not that it matters. today i got dropped by lance armstrong.
see lance in paisley and, very briefly, me here