We love to watch the Tour de France; it usually involves cycling for several hours to spend just a few seconds watching the world’s greatest cyclists wizz past, then several more hours cycling home again. It might sound insane, but the atmosphere is always fantastic, making it a great day out.
Obviously the best place to see the Tour is in the mountains, where the peloton might be a bit split up and will certainly be moving less quickly than normal.
With this in mind, Nick organised a club run in the Pyrenees on Sunday, days before the Tour would come through. As I can’t cycle much at the moment, he’d go in the camper on Saturday, ride Saturday and Sunday, then ride home on Monday, leaving the camper parked at a friend’s house. We’d then both go back in the car on Tuesday to watch the Tour Wednesday and Thursday, before heading home. A much needed break.
It didn’t quite go to plan, however, as rain clouds gathered on Sunday night, depositing their contents very generously on Monday morning. Nick set off to ride home, but within a very few kilometres was soaked through (his shoes took a full 3 days to dry!). The forecast was for more of the same for the next couple of days, so he turned back, came home in the camper and we watched the mountain stages on the internet.
Wednesday’s stage saw them leave the mountains and the weather improved; Nick cycled to Montgaillard, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, while I painted the gite kitchen (more later).
The following stage was going through the Landes, which is fairly flat; feeling deprived of my usual TdF fix, we drove to the little village of Brocas and joined most of the village’s population on the roadside. We’d both had appointments in the morning, so missed the publicity caravan, but saw the Tour come through at incredible speed, causing the sort of air turbulence normally associated with express trains. The local Bandas band was playing, the bar was doing a roaring trade and even the Gendarmes were friendly and chatty, in addition to which, Kieran and Alice joined us.
The Tour finished the following Sunday; sadly, Mark Cavendish didn’t manage to break Eddy Merckx’s record for the number of stages won in the Tour, but there’s always next year.