Lourdes – Part 3
Well this was the day we all had been looking forward to, and anticipating for a VERY long time! We were heading back into the Pyrenees Mountains to watch Le Tour come through…. live and in person! We were very excited to say the least!
After days of trying to figure out the BEST place (many maps and GPS devices were used to figure this out) to watch the tour go through from Pau to Bagneres du Luchon, we decided to head to Luz St. Sauveur, on the Col du Tourmalet climb. The advice we were given from “our” local trampoline/ski instructor from the day before was that the road wouldn’t close down till about 11:00am so we would have plenty of time to get there before the race came through.
Mike and I were both a bit sceptical on whether the road would be open (this is THE Tour de France after all) but decided to go with the advice we were given by our local “guide” and make our way for around 9:30am. This would give us plenty of time to hopefully find parking, and scope our spot to watch from.
We made our way and were pretty surprised that it was relatively quiet. I was expecting thousands upon thousands of people all crowding the streets just trying to get a glimpse of the riders…… however that was not the case. We found parking easily and had a great morning (amazing yummy coffee and chocolate croissants were involved) waiting for Le Tour to come through.
About an hour before the riders come through, a huge caravan of sponsor cars came through playing crazy loud music. There were people yelling in French over loud speakers, go-go boys and go-go girls dancing and throwing prizes. Really it was more like junk than prizes, but the kiddies were having fun trying to gather up as many goodies as they could.
At around 11:00 am Mike went to buy a beer….you know…..its a novelty for us Canadians to be able to walk around in public with an alcoholic beverage in hand. I don’t drink beer….. but seriously, how awesome is it to have beer being sold and people just walking around drinking beer, instead of being corralled like sheep behind a “beer garden fence”. Life is so civilized in France and I LOVE it!
The Tour day that we saw, turned out to be the hardest stage of the entire tour. Four mountain climbs, and 201 seriously hard kilometers. When they came through Luz St. Sauveur it was the start of the second climb of the day. The peloton was broken into 2 groups…. the mountain climbers were in the front pack and all in the hunt for the polka dot jersey, and to be eventually crowned king of the mountains. The second pack had Bradley Wiggins and all that were in the hunt to strip him of his coveted, leader of the race, yellow jersey!
It was honestly a blur of cyclists as they passed through Luz St Sauveur. I would have thought that they would have really been struggling hard to get up the mountain but it looked like this part of the mountain was being handled quite easily by all the riders. I was so excited by seeing all the riders I actually didn’t get the best shots (certainly not Graham Watson or Liz Kreutz worthy). The riders passed through, the team cars followed, and then it was over. It happened that fast. We headed into the bowling alley/restaurant for coffee/beer and to watch the televised climb up the Col du Tourmalet. The experience was beyond awesome.
This was Mikes 3rd Tour de France…. in a row…… that he has been in France, watching, live, and in person, and my first. (….so something is wrong with this picture…. no?).
Summer 2010 – after a cycling trip with the guys, Mike said something to the effect that “for being in France, you certainly don’t get a lot of coverage on the race…. its like it’s not even happening”. I thought for sure he was tricking me so I wouldn’t be super envious and know how fabulous it all was.
Summer 2011. Mike was in Paris (for work….hahaha) for the final stage of Le Tour and on the Champs Elysees watching live. We were talking on the phone, him there, me watching it on TV here in Vancouver. Turns out it was him asking me what was going on. He said he couldn’t see a thing since it was über crowded and there were about 12 rows of people in front of him. Again….. all I could think of was “STOP trying to make me feel better about not being THERE!”
Summer 2012. We spent the entire 22 days in France during Le Tour, and I hate to say it, but Mike is right……. being in France (Paris, Disneyland,Orleans,Carcassonne, Lourdes) during the Tour, we were hard pressed to find out anything about the race while we were there. It was never on TV, not in the newspapers, not anywhere! Without internet we really would not have known what was happening! Seriously!
In Canada we seem to follow all the stages…. waking up early and catching every pedal stroke, every drop of sweat, every feed station, all while holding our breath. We watch the entire days ride just to see a sprint finish or watching the riders grind it out on the mountain stages. It makes for awesome sport, awesome TV… and I LOVE it!
With that all said……. next year is the 100th anniversary of Le Tour…. it sure would be fun to be in a motor home, with a group of equally enthusiastic cycling friends, on the side of a mountain climb with a Canadian flag, body paint, costumes…. partying with all the rest of the crazed Le Tour fans. Mike are you listening??!?
After our morning of watching Le Tour we decided to head up another famous Le Tour climb…. Hautacam! It was stunning and beautiful. I was surprised how different the climb was from the Col du Tourmalet which really was not that far away. Turns out they have a crazy luge track at the top of the mountain that we all just loved. The kiddies were in heaven! SO. MUCH. FUN.
Vive Le Tour de France!
Enjoy your Daily Dose
Race Set up… flag check point
Cured meat in Luz St. Sauveur
Start of Le Tour in Pau
Hello little Le Tour Fan
more rides before the race comes through
Lets Jump – I’m READY!
Brodie was cheering for Cadel Evans and team BMC
up to the minute race stats courtesy your friendly iPhone 4s
The Caravan Arrives
More race stats… unfolding as it happens!
Helicopters are near…… the race is near!
Drinking beer in the middle of the streets in the AM…. because you know what…..we can!
look both ways!
Group #1 looking for the polka dot jersey!
Mike…. the amazing human climbing tree!
Race leader Bradley Wiggins Spoiler alert…. he wins Le Tour 2012 AND the gold medal in London 2012!
Brodies team car
Watching from “our” bowling alley
Hello Brodie…. Le Tour de France is going on behind you!
Hautacam in all its glory
Our afternoon coffee stop at the top of a mountain!
Summer Luge track…. FUN!
Brodie and Daddy
Syd was SO EXCITED! This little lady likes danger!
More cows in the middle of the road!