I have been enjoying watching the Tour de France. Ever since my son Niko started to seriously ride and race bikes, I have been fascinated, watching these superb athletes. It certainly helped to have him explain what was happening and how each stage brought different abilities to the front. (No, he isn’t a professional, just dedicated to the sport.) This year, to my dismay, I left France for my home in California just before the race began.
I remember many years ago watching the race in person. This was probably in the 80’s but then again it could have been in the 70’s. We found a spot on the side of the road and waited, and waited and then waited some more. All of a sudden, several men on bikes flew by and then a minute or so later a big group of cyclists flew by. The second group was known as the peloton. And that was it. Waiting, a quick glimpse and then it was over. What a let down. I wasn’t impressed.
This year, like last year, the tour passed within a few miles (ok, kilometers..) of our home in France. On July 5th, the race took off in Aix-en-Provence and finished in Montpellier. But, since they never take the direct route, they rode through the village of Mouries to the town of Maussane les Alpilles to Les Baux and onward to Tarascon and Beaucaire, and finishing up in Montpellier. (note the map) My husband, Jacques intended to watch from Maussane, but by the time he was ready to camp out on the side of the road, they had closed the road.
Last year, Niko and Robin parked their car on the road that climbs to Les Baux, returned home and then before the cyclists came through, rode their bikes from our house up to their spot next to the car. Cyclists going up a steep incline don’t fly by so they loved it! They also got a day of exercise and entertainment.
We have been taping the race so that we don’t have to get up at 4 AM to watch it. Right now it is 8 PM and I am watching the time trials that ended in Mont St. Michel. I love watching the riders but the scenery is glorious. Even if you don’t care about the race, it is worth watching for the French scenery.
I’ve included some photos of the race from the Tour’s website. http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2013/us/stage-10/gallery.html#v_214153 There are still 2 or so weeks left before the race finishes in Paris. You are missing something if you don’t at least tune in once!