Stage 2 – Les Rousses to Morzine (stage 8 of the Tour)
This was the first true mountain top finish of the Tour. The stage finished with a 8 mile climb up to Morzine-Alvoriaz, which is a ski resort at the top of the town of Morzine. It was so crowded that I had to park 4 miles away from the base of the climb! Good thing I got there the night before, because they closed the entire town down the day of the race.
I wanted to be at least 3 miles up the climb to maximize my chances of getting on TV. So, how the hell was I going to get a 5 foot tall costume up that far? I had brought two foldable dollys with me to carry the costume a mile or two, so using some duct tape (what CAN’T you do with duct tape?) I taped them together to create a type of cart as you can see here
I used an inner tube to tie the cart to the back of my bike. I rode it about 100 yards before I realized it wasn’t going to work. The cart kept flying ahead of me and flipping over. So, I lifted the cart up and tied one end to my saddle.
The pro of this design were that the cart didn’t fly ahead of me. The con was that I was sitting on a piece of metal. They don’t make a chamois pad out there that can make that feel comfortable. It really brings new meaning to the terms “buns of steel”.
Off I went, carefully biking along (the thing was still pretty damn unstable). There were thousands of people making their way up the climb and everyone had a comment about what was in the black bag that contained the bottle costume. My favorite was “the misses” or “your mother in-law”. On my way down, after the stage (in which Armstrong lost 7 minutes) a few people asked me if Lance Armstrong’s form was in the bag.
I dropped the bag off with some trusty Dutchmen and did the rest of the climb sans metal seat. Without the 30 lbs behind me the bike felt like there were little jet engines on it. The climb was awesome. There simply isn’t anything this long or beautiful out there in my area of the SF bay. And it was really fun to see all the people along the course as well.
I had a good run with the bottle and managed to get on TV for a flash. When the riders are climbing the TV cameras really zoom in, so if I am not on the right side or am too far away I don’t stand a chance. I have almost no peripheral vision in the thing so I look to see the riders and then 20 yards before they get there I turn around and run and hold my line and hope that a motorcycle doesn’t knock me over. Its kind of like riding a wave. Hey, maybe I’ve invented a new sport.
For this stage my caretakers were a family from Jersey, England. They kept me well hydrated after the run as you can see here.
I had no idea England had a “Jersey” but it makes sense given the name our state is New Jersey. They were a blast to hang out with and they loved the product. I gave them a few bottles at the end.
I then had to descend 4 miles, which with the dolly is actually harder than climbing. There were thousands of bikes zooming by me, and with each corner I barely kept the bike under control. It was pretty nerve wracking. But hey, its all for the bottle, right?!
All my work paid off as I was making my way home, only to be flagged down from someone yelling at me from their driveway. They told me to come down and have a drink with them. Who can turn that down? There was a band playing and a small crowd hanging out.
I will always make fun of the French, just because it is so much fun to, but I have to say that the stereotype of them being snotty just isn’t true in my opinion. 90% of them are super friendly and more welcoming than anyone I’ve met in the US. This was a perfect example. The guy who owned the house, Johan, called me from the road to have a beer with him. That’s awesome!
One beer turned into three and I chatted with all the folks at the party for close to an hour. Johan is disabled. Morzine is a huge ski town and he injured himself on a run one day. But he didn’t seem fazed by it at all, and in fact he has been to the last few para-olympics and even bikes! He showed me his bike which you can see below.
After the day I was totally spent, but I decided to rally and head back into town to watch the World Cup Final. How often will I get a chance to watch the World Cup Final in a soccer crazy country? They had a projector set up in the downtown and thousands of people watching the match. It was a lot of fun.
Next stage is the rest day. Stay tuned for more!