Stage 9 – Cote de Bales
This Tour is turning into my own personal Groundhog Day. It goes as follows:
1) Get woken up by flies buzzing my face at around 9 am. I am bleary eyed, groggy, sniffly, sweaty and I turn and realize a 6’2” 200 lb Chinese guys is 2 inches away from me, snoring. For those of you who don’t know – I somehow talked my friend, Lei, into coming with me. I got him a costume as well so the two of us could go up there and maximize TV coverage. He thought he was in for a fun, relaxing vacation in France. Sorry Lei!
2) Get up, take some allergy medicine, drink some water and wake up the “Beast from the East” (Lei’s nickname)
3) Try to find food. Strangely, in France the culinary highlight of the day has been the breakfasts, where we go to a “Patisserie” and buy a sh*t-ton of food. Lei and I wait in what is invariably a long line. When we get to the counter we mumble and point and take way too long. We hear the French hissing to themselves behind us.
4) We gorge ourselves on pastries. I love pastries but to me they almost have to be accompanied by coffee. Patisserie only serve Pastries. No coffee. Major bummer.
5) Lei & I head back to the campervan and begin to pack up and get ready. I love Lei but he is not the fastest guy in the world so usually I take out the costumes, load them onto the bikes and pack the bag, all in the time it takes for him to find his sunglasses.
6) We make our way up the climb. This involves a lot of knee smashing, slow RPM climbing, where we are constantly cheered on by people who can’t believe we are climbing with what appears to be either a huge set of golf clubs or a coffin.
7) We scope out our running spots and sit together and eat lunch.
8) The crazy caravan comes by. The caravan is great the first time you’ve seen it. After the 11th time, its still cool, but you don’t need any of the hats or key chains or signs they are throwing out as you pass by. When I first saw the caravan I tried to jump for everything they threw out, but I got nothing. Now, I just lay on the side of the road and get pelted with stuff. It feels as if they are aiming right at me and throwing as far as they can.
9) When I hear the helicopters I put on the suit. First the pants and then the shoes – Even Bottle Boy puts his pants on one leg at a timeJ I wait until the last minute because its hot in there and I don’t want to attract too much attention.
10) I say a few prayers to the costume Gods that I don’t take out the peloton but still manage to get a good shot. So far the Gods have smiled on me.
14) Take off the costume, pack it up and descend to Lei’s spot.
15) We get to the car. By this time we are sweaty, overheated and overtired. I usually have a beer to decompress and then we pack up.
16) Drive for 3 hours, stop for food and pray we can find a gas station that is open. In addition to needing gas regularly, our car also has a slow leak in the left tire, so we have to find a place that is open. In France and in the evening, this is easier said then done.
17) Get as close as possible to the final climb, usually around 1 am or so. Try to find a parking spot, which is usually very difficult given it seems that most of Holland and Belgium and every man woman and child from Luxemberg are following the tour via campervan. Eventually we find a spot .
18) 2 am, get into the bed in the campervan, which is really just a giant shelf space.
19) See step 1.
So that’s pretty much how it went today. This stage was exciting because Andy Schleck dropped his chain right after attacking and Contador didn’t wait for him. I guess I was running alongside Andy right after he re-mounted. I should have given him a push 🙂
Thanks for reading!