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Down But Not Out

Chris Froome and Richie Porte finishing in Alpe d'Huez

Chris Froome and Richie Porte finishing in Alpe d’Huez

[Bryn Lennon/Getty Images]

Ron’s View seems to have vanished. Sorry about that. In the four years and ten months of its existence, there’s never been a month of such limited activity like this. Where have I been?

Right here. Doing what I always do in July. Getting up early every morning for the last twenty days to watch live coverage of the Tour de France. Sitting outside in the evenings enjoying our beautiful Pacific Northwest evenings.

But a few other duties seem to be getting in the way. For instance:

1. If I haven’t blogged much all week, I usually do some catching up on Sunday evenings. Not the last few weeks. Three Sundays ago, I spent the late afternoon and evening on campus hosting the opening of a summer program I run. Last Sunday we were at a friend’s 60th birthday party. This weekend won’t be much better, with a wedding rehearsal and dinner tomorrow, a wedding Saturday, and still another wedding Sunday.

2. I began the month by assuming new job duties, duties that are keeping me busy all those hours between the end of the day’s Tour de France coverage and the beginning of my evenings outside. In past summers, I might get some blog posts written outside using my laptop, but now I sit outside catching up on all the days news and other people’s blogs.

3. And then there’s our remodel. What are we in now? Month four? Plans to review, products to look at, emails to write, contractor and subs and architect to talk to.

4. I already mentioned the Tour, but perhaps I haven’t been sufficiently clear about how much mental space it occupies. If I had had more success writing posts this month, they would all have been about the Tour. And you don’t need my daily reports. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off heading to the Guardian’s sports pages and turning to William Fotheringham’s daily piece. Or follow him on Twitter, as I’m doing.

Oh, and that crucial first week of the month, when Ron’s View went quiet, there wasn’t just the Tour to watch. There was Wimbledon. I mean really, what is one supposed to do on a day like Saturday, July 8, when Chris Froome is tearing up Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees to grab the yellow jersey while Marion Bartoli is winning the women’s championship at Wimbledon? Is there a better week in sports?

As it turns out, the answer is yes. This week. Just today the Tour featured a historic double climb of Alpe d’Huez and the men’s golf Open Championship began at Muirfield, just outside Edinburgh. It’s impossible to watch both simultaneously. Cycling won. I couldn’t take my eyes off the race for 2 1/2 hours, at the end of which I had no interest in watching golf. What a day!

What happened? William Fotheringham explains, though no short article can do the day justice. Ever since we rented a car in Grenoble in 2009 in order to drive up Alpe d’Huez ourselves, when the Tour returns there, I have an added sense of familiarity on seeing the sites.

Meanwhile, the blog isn’t the only victim of the shift in my attention to other matters. My book reading has gone to hell as well. It’s almost a month since I wrote about The Blackhouse, the first book in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy. I wrote at the time that its “portraits of island life are marvelously rendered gems, lifting the book well above whatever expectations one may have of crime novels.” A few days later, I anticipated writing a second post about how the book had stopped being a crime novel at all. The precipitating crime had faded into the background as we focused with steadily increasing intensity on Fin’s past on the Isle of Lewis before moving away to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Increasing intensity indeed. So much that I had to take a breather, and once I did, I stopped reading the book altogether. Just as with Ron’s View, I return home each day feeling pressure to get back into the book, The more pressure I feel, the more stubbornly I resist. Hence, no new posts and no progress in the book, which I’m beginning to resent, since it’s keeping me from moving on to all the other books I hoped to read this summer.

At least I’m doing my job. And at least the remodel is progressing. And at least the Tour continues, though I suspect it might do so even without my daily devotion.

Maybe I’ll yet produce a post on life without Google Reader. (Another change in my life this month.) The posts I had in mind on the Supreme Court’s closing decisions last month are probably a lost cause.

What else? I was halfway through a second post on the book I first wrote about in early June, Lucas Mann’s Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere. Just as The Blackhouse isn’t about crime, this isn’t about baseball. I was going to say a few words about its depiction of the decline of an economic way of life in Iowa, and its reflections on fandom. This in turn was to lead to a post on the pain of fandom, as most recently experienced in Phil Mickelson’s crushing loss at the US Open and Mark Cavendish’s surprising failures at the Tour. But then Phil went and won the Scottish Open and Mark picked up another stage win the day after a shocking loss at the line.

Several other items have piled up in addition to these. But other duties call. I don’t know when I’ll write all the missing posts. I hope I do.

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