Yesterday was great.
While the Tour broadcasts super early for folks back in the States, in France it doesn’t usually roll out until close to noon, sometimes later. With 110k to go before the riders reached Alpe d’Huez, we had plenty of time to sleep in and get ready for the walk to the road.
Above is a picture I took of the actual Alpe d’Huez, as seen from the mountainside across the valley on our ride this morning. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see the road from Bourg d’Oisans (in the valley) snaking up to the town of Alpe d’Huez at the top center of the mountain. Midway up the road I’ve circled the town of La Garde in blue, between turn 5 and 6 (counting from the bottom). The green dashes represent the ~1 mile road from La Garde to our house, circled in red. This should give you a sense of how much riding/climbing we’re doing at the end of each day to return to our house, as well as a sense of scale of the mountain that the Tour riders had to climb twice.
Yesterday around noon we walked to La Garde (sidenote: I was less sore from 3 days of riding mountains than from one day of walking 2 miles). We got there just in time for the promotional caravan, which is basically a parade of ridiculous cars and trucks with beautiful men and women riding on/sticking out of them throwing lots of free junk at all the spectators. Exhibit A:
I didn’t grab much because I was busy.
Audrey (the patriot pictured below), Doug and I were sandwiched between two Australians and a bunch of Dutchmen, all of whom were SUPER excited about grabbing 9 piece puzzle magnets and tiny packages of dried meat. The beer coozies apparently weren’t as exciting, so I snagged one.
We were lucky to see the riders pass through twice, as the speed even at which they climbed the mountain was such that you barely had time to register their presence before they were gone. Everyone along the route was in a good mood, with Australian and German fans particularly animated and entertaining. Eric got in the spirit (and on TV) with his purple zebra skinsuit:
At some point it was brought to my attention that at the next turn up the road there was a Captain America trying to steal my thunder. So of course we went to find him.
Dan, from Salt Lake City, isn’t even a cycling fan, but he was on a 2.5 week trip with friends through Spain and France, taking in the sites and reppin’ the good ol’ USA along the way. Stampede hung out with Dan and his friends for the second pass-through of the racers before we took off for the house, possibly drunk, just in time to avoid the rain.
All in all it was an excellent day. Overcast enough to avoid sunburn, cool enough to be able to not have to drink water with my beer, and only one fat European woman who ran out in front of riders trying to grab a loose bottle and taking down 8 of them. It was close, it was fun, and it was the One Hundredth Tour de France! Quite a way to spend a day.