Stage 1 – Tournus to Station des Roussses (stage 7 of the Tour)
After I missed stage 6 I hightailed it to the Alpine town of Rousses. I’ve never been to France so I had no idea what to expect. The town was incredible. They had a huge ampitheather set up with a huge projection screen for people to watch the Tour. It was a really neat ski town that had a great feel to it. I got there around 9 pm and decided to have a walk around and get some food before finding a place to park. I had a meal at an awesome, but affordable restaurant. I ordered the special which was some kind of raw fish and vegetable combo thing. I normally wouldn’t get something like that but the waitress recommended it in her broken English. And it was easily one of the top 10 meals I’ve had. I was also very impressed by all the details of the restaurant. It had a Alpine motif but, given that they were close to the town of Evian, where the water comes from, they had all different types of Evian water bottles that decorated the restaurant. I need to get them some Clean Bottles! And the placemats were they astro-turf, fake grass looking things that were really cool.
After dinner I drove down the mountain and eventually found a spot to park on the side of the road, but not before nearly being hit several times by semi trucks that were screaming up the mountain. There is a huge caravan that follows the Tour – putting up signs near the end of the road, setting up the finishing area, everything. Think about trying to move the Superbowl venue every day for a month and you’ll get an idea for the logistics behind it.
I set my alarm so I’d be sure not to sleep until 1 pm again! I woke up around 10 and rode around a few towns below and then did the climb, which was about 8 kilometers in length. When will the rest of the world switch over to the English system (and learn English while they are at it), it is really frustrating 🙂
One thing that people who watch the tour on TV don’t have a sense for is the caravan that comes through before the race. It is basically a parade. Its probably 100-200 vehicles that are decked out in all these crazy ways – huge mascots on top of cars, cars shaped like the mascots themselves, people on top of cars dancing – everything. Its all the sponsors of the Tour and they come through throwing signs or candy or hats or whatever. It really was cool and one of the main reasons to check out the Tour. I wish I had my 2 year old, Griffin, with me to see it. The look on his face would have been priceless.
I transformed into Bottle Boy about 10 minutes before the riders arrived. The people near me had no idea what was going on, but they loved it. I had a good run with the riders and got on TV for a second. All in all it was a good day.
Next stage – Les Rousses to Morzine!