And we’re off!

Yes, of course the Tour kicked off today, and even without the traditional Prologue, Stage 1 had plenty of excitement. As is usual this early in the race, nerves were high and there were a number of crashes. Luckily none of them appeared early on to be very serious — with the exception of one which took young Cofidis rider Duclo-Lassalle out of contention with a broken arm.

Now I see on cyclingnews.com that Juan Maricio Soler of Barloworld may not start tomorrow due to a broken bone in his wrist. He made a name for himself in last year’s Tour, coming out of nowhere to take the King of the Mountains title. I’d hate to see him have to drop out this year, and it’s always a shame to see riders crash out of the race almost before they even get a chance to enjoy the Tour experience.

Even though my KAL team is Columbia — and of course I’m always rooting for George — I’m happy to see Alejandro Valverde win the stage today. I’ve been waiting years for him to come into his form at the Tour, and hopefully this year he’ll be able to make it through the whole three weeks.

I could write much more about my views of the Tour, but I’m not much of a commentator, so I’ll limit myself to my own adventures. And it was a pretty eventful day around here, although nothing to compare with the Tour itself. I was able to get over to my LYS, Babetta’s, where they were celebrating their one-year anniversary in their current location. I picked up some new sock yarn and two new circular needles, both of them a bit of a splurge: Addi Turbo and Lantern Moon Rosewood circs, both in size 6. I’ve never used Rosewood needles before, so I’m looking forward to trying them out.

As for sock yarn, I was looking for some superwash wool in a solid color. Ever since I first bought the book Sensational Knitted Socks I’ve had my eye on one of the twelve-stitch patterns. This sock is knit toe up with a stitch pattern called Small Capitals. I’ve never been brave enough to try it yet, but given my recent sock-knitting success I’m now hoping to tackle these socks once the Tour is over. With that thought in mind I thought I’d pick out a solid color to better show off the pattern, and I ended up with two skeins of Lang Jawoll in a deep red color.

I also looked at some Crystal Palace Panda Silk . . . and if I ever get back over there, I’m definitely going to grab some of that yarn. In fact, I find myself wondering why I didn’t snag it today, but I suppose I was trying to be “good” and not spend too much money. What a silly idea!

When I got home from Babetta’s, the Big Guy made some delicious chicken sandwiches for the two of us plus our friend, S, and then we all headed over to check out the brand new Big Lots. None of us knew quite what to expect — but we ended up bringing home an armful of stuff, so I guess you could say we were favorably impressed by what we saw. They definitely have some amazing prices on all sorts of things, from food to toiletries to tools to furniture. I was sorely tempted to buy a bagless vacuum; they were priced from $40 to $70 (not including the Dyson, which was $299). I passed it up for some smaller items, though. The Big Guy grabbed a plastic trash bin with wheels and began filling it with tools; S bought himself a new pillow; and I finally chose some cool-looking flatware, some plastic hangers, and an stainless steel colander to replace the old plastic one I’ve had for 100 years.

At that point I remarked that we’d probably better get out of there before we ended up with several carts full of merchandise. Seriously, none of us are recreational shoppers, but there were so many inexpensive goodies in that store! I’m pretty sure we’ll be going back. I can just see myself hauling home a few of those giant plastic bins to store my stash in.

Oh — and how could I forget about my knitting?! I finished my Koigu socks last night, and I’m very pleased with them. Koigu is very lovely to work with, and the colors are brilliant. I’m definitely looking forward to working with the other color I have in my stash; but I also have a good deal of yarn left over from knitting the socks . . . maybe even enough for another pair!

And as for my KAL project, I made a good start on the collar of the SKB. I took some rather hurried photos which don’t really show how beautiful the yarn is but do show my progress thus far. My only trouble is that, since we’re watching the race on videotape, every few minutes I have to stop knitting to fast forward through the commercials! If I didn’t have these interruptions I might get a bit more work done. On the other hand, I’d say it’s probably worth it not to have to watch the TV ads.

So, here’s to an excellent start of this year’s Tour, to good cycling weather, friendly crowds along the route, and plenty of curious cows!

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