So other than being frugal with my money, the only thing keeping me from going to a movie theatre and watching the new Harry Potter movie that opened the day before, was the fact that today was the day for me to watch a bunch of cyclists fly by in a middle leg of the Tour de France.
It should be noted, that when I initially started planning this trip, it was a planned vacation to go to the British Open. I looked at a schedule online of the Tour and saw that the end of the TDF was the same weekend as the end of the Open, so I thought, “Hey, watch a practice round and the Thursday/Friday action in Scotland, and then head to Paris. Yeah, that schedule was wrong, the end was really the following weekend, so why not quit my job and do a whole slew of sporting events!” So that is how I ended up in Bourg-en-Bresse. I wanted to be in France for Bastille day, and this was the best leg to catch in my time frame.
I met up w/2 girls that I met in Pamplona and some of their summer study buddies at the train station. We headed into the BEB and made our way to the route. The riders were scheduled to come by in a couple hours, so we thought it best to find a spot. Libby, Jess and I ended up a ways down the route where we were able to snag a spot along the rail. Since I really had no idea what to expect, everything was absorbed on an as-it-happened-basis. Before the riders come the caravans. It’s pretty much a parade in which the sponsors pass out items w/their logos plastered all over it. I got some candy, a bottle of water (which in the searing heat was by far the best thing to pass out) and a Supermarche red polka-dotted hat. I recall there being some greedy people next to us who had no qualms w/taking something right from underneath a kid who was making their way towards it. The things people are willing to do for something that’s free!
In the waiting period, I started to think of signs to make to garner some photo action and the best I came up w/was: Free Landis. It was in reference to last years no longer winner, Floyd Landis, who I think is still trying to prove his innocence on the doping charges. I figured it would get me on Sports Center. I opted not to make sign out of the combination of pure laziness in not wanting to find a sharpee and I don’t want to piss the French people off next to me. I’ve already seen what they’re willing to do to little kids, no need to give them a reason to pick on someone their own size.
Since the Tour was late getting into town from the start in Semur-en-Auxois, I think we stood there for almost 4 hours. It was ridiculously hot and the fact that most of my trip had spent in the rain, it was a transition. Here’s where the story gets anti-climatic, which means you’ve read this far and there isn’t going to be some enlightening ending (not like there ever are in my stories!:-)). So after much anticipation, the riders make their way down the route. I turn my camera into video mode and get the riders coming from around the corner and past me to the finish line ahead. I think in the end it was about 30 seconds of action and was mainly a blur. I’m not sure if I ever saw the guy in the Yellow Jersey. Heck, I didn’t even know who was wearing it after the stage before BEB. My video looked like a bunch of riders biking in reverse–some of the guys were going that fast! Some guy from some country with a name I don’t know took the stage (ok, it was Tom Boonen of Belgium. It took him 5 hrs, 20 min, and 59 seconds to go 199.5 KM–if you want to know that in Miles, you can do the math yourself).
Since BEB was the finish line of the leg, there was going to be some events that night to go along w/the day activities. I would have loved to have stayed for everything, but thanks to Libby and Jess, I had a free train ticket and a place to stay in Lyon if I went that night rather than the next morning as I had planned. I took the girls up on their offer and left BEB after 2 days.
It’s amazing the things people are willing to do for something free!