I love the Le Tour de France. We used to watch it from America when Lance was doing his thing. Back then and now, it brings the feelings of summer. In the previous village we lived in, The Tour was always near. We lived nearer to the Pyrénées so the start of the mountain stages would be right next door. Our first viewing of The Tour was very quick. It started in Saint-Gaudens. We found a spot just after it began. It was flat. The boys were FAST. This is when I discovered my snap-snap-snap sport settings on the camera. The caravan of advertisements and goodies sped by at record speeed, pelting the crowd with keychains and hats while the peloton followed even faster. But I loved it.
The following year, we found a small hill climb that was close. This would slow everything down and also provide for a little break-away. Again, totally lovely seeing all the athletes. The cheering was loud. Everyone vocally supporting the cyclists brings warm, happy feelings of greatness. These guys are working so hard and they clearly love what they do. Then Lance, on his very last tour, threw a water bottle our way, but a cute little French kid grabbed it. I don’t think he knows that it was one of Lance’s last water bottle tosses ever. He loved it all the same.
The tour skipped The Gers last year. This year, however, it was very close indeed. Just down the road in a village we pass through often to visit our Scottish friend, Kenny. The village is on a hill and then there are a few little climbs after it, so I tried to find a climb to catch the boys slow. The road has ditches on each side, so parking would be impossible unless you’re a farmer. If you’re a farmer, you know that for every wheat field on a road, there will be a little combine harvester ramp. We pulled off at the top of a climb on a little harvest ramp (no wheat was harmed during the watching of the tour). And then we waited. The kids had a little picnic. I was waiting for other fans to join us, but no one came. There were loads of fans either side of where we were, but for a long stretch of road, it was me and my three little tchotchke seeking monsters. A bit surreal.
(don’t worry, a cop told me to get off the road. “ils ne peuvent pas passer.” we squidged in.)
The caravan arrived in full swing tossing gummies and laundry detergent and bracelets one and two at a time. Could they not see we had three kids?! The kids bickered at the unfairness of it all. Meanwhile, I was heavily peppered with squishy cow keychains.
The helicopters began buzzing and you knew it was close. I had my camera locked and loaded for fast moving bikey boys.
Brent called in to tell me that their was a break away. He was watching Z at the farm. We don’t fit into one car you know. And we have lots of cows.
The break away felt strong. They were into it, but not killing themselves.
Then the peloton approached. I did my snap-snap-snap action and they were still approaching. I was a bit lost for photos. I did my bit and they hadn’t even reached us. The minute they passed the crowd and rounded the corner near our little wheat field, they seemed ever so slow.
Since it was just the kids and me, our cheers were very quiet. I couldn’t clap because I wanted to take a few photos. Let’s just say, I heard a lot of crickets and some Tour de France dudes chit-chatting. They took so long to pass us, I was almost uncomfortable. “What? oh! hey! Hi! Yeah, no … I’m just checking the wheat.”
The support vehicles closely followed and then it took one Skoda to pull over before I understood what the hold up was.
They all started doing it. I didn’t want to photograph the whole thing, but let’s just say, “when the cameras aren’t looking, people are peeing.”
It’s a long road to the finish line even if you’re a support vehicle.
In the end, Minty got a hat.
Otto got a cool, green shirt.
Lucy got a water bottle.