Monday, July 18, 2011

Tour-spotting

Grimly we ploughed through the neated rows of vines, ignoring the howling wind and the horizontal rain, focusing only on our Goal – a good view of the Tour de France as it shot through  A Village Near Us!  Rarely does the opportunity come this close – close enough to hear the wheels purring smoothly, to see those muscles pulsing... pulsing, to feel the wind in your hair as the bikes whoosh lycra’dly past - it's an opportunity not to be missed!

A bit of exercise’ – walking instead of driving – had seemed a suitably sporty idea to reach the spot…  But one row of vines looks very like another.  Our water tower marker suddenly appeared on the wrong horizon, then disappeared completely...

George was still sticking to his 'half an hour at most!' forecast; I was losing hope.  “Let’s have a sandwich!” I suggested.  George frowned and pointed out that it was nowhere near lunchtime, and if we just went back along this track until we reached that treeline, we might be getting near the main road...

Some time later..., we did by chance hit the main road, and soon cars started passing us and joining cars already parked along the verge.   People opened their boots to unleash padded coats and canvas chairs (we're generally alone in flinging a jacket on the grass), then strode along to the wide viewing bend, where a crowd shuffled in small clutches, gazing expectantly up the road and muttering, "Should be here any minute...".

After about a week, someone with a mobile yelled, “Caravan in five minutes!”  (Oh thank god!)
And Loh!  It did verily heave into view –  45 minutes of colourful, musical and demented publicity vehicles (of which this is but One - look out for Heroic Gendarme saving child-wanting-hat):


video


This is George's proud camera-work, and not even our voices are in it, but we were There. I specially loved the veritable Ethos of the Tour, portrayed in giant yellow Balloon Sculpture.

I read that for many people, the Caravan is best part.  (So I'm not the only one...)

Anyway, after It, there follows a lengthy pause before the actual Cyclists arrive. This can be quite handy for erecting foldy chairs, (or brollies as the rain has no doubt set in again), and for shuffling about bagging a better view. Several people had their eye on my lamppost for example, planted as it was on a small hillock.
I leaned menacingly.

Then I had to relinquish my claim because George had gone and  bagged a better view down the road a bit - loads of space, perfect outlook, ditch very leapable - we knew we'd be happy there...

I'd eaten my inadequate sandwich ages before, and was very sorry I hadn't made more effort to grab a flying publicity biscuit.  Messages had got through on the progress of the race, and it was now running an hour late.  Children were getting bored with their death-defying ditch games, and holiday-makers were wishing they'd gone to see another chateau instead.

And then!  A rustle in the throng, an excited murmur and fingers-pointing, the thrub of the TV helicopters (oh god - how's my hair?!) And they're HEEEERE! 

What a Thrill as they burned rubber round that long bend and shot up the Straight towards us!  Such a densely packed crowd of nearly two hundred bikes, looking very like this:




(In fact, this clip was the youtube end of Stage 11, which Mark Cavendish won). 
Our snippet of The Tour was just the same, but without the Pirates of the Caribbean music and the finish line.  It was fabulously exciting and very quick.  What a disappointment when the bringing-up-the-rear van  came past...

Yes - a Disappointment!  Obviously for George the Tour-junkie, but why for a dedicated Unsporty such as I?  The enforced hanging around Anticipating, perhaps..., the frisson of Live Action...

Should I start accompanying George to football matches, one wonders...

Hell No!!

13 comments:

Expat said...

Smashing video, George! Dolores, was that your waving hand appearing on camera? Oh, it's all exciting, isn't it. Did you need googles to protect from the dust cloud generated by the cycling horde?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Certainly Not,Expat! For my hands are long & elegant & beautifully manicured...

(OK - Well spotted)! It's also me going HaHaHAH betwixt the "Voici la caravane!... grosse baguette, unnh?..." & Frenchly utterings of such ilk.

Protective googles would indeed have been handy, but our backpack was weighed down with sustenance. Anyway, we quite like the avant-garde Splattered look...

Canary Islander said...

Hello Dolores! Why didn't you go by bike? You could have unexpectedly emerged from a hedgerow joined the leading pack! Fame!!!
:-)

Expat said...

Yes, CI, but don't you think an old black-frame model with wobbly wheels and a pannier might have been a bit of a giveaway?

Apologies, D., but a pannier-accrouterd bike with the wobblies just seemed so very free-spirited-and-don't-give-a-damn you!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi CI - We would have, but George's lycra was in the wash.

Expat - you did it again!! We bought bikes from the supermarket soon after seeing how bike-able the countryside is round here and Yes! SHINY BLUE, they are very bloody wobbly and have shelf behind saddle for putting your shopping on.
You often see Pointy-Baguette-loaded specimens riding along like Ben Hur's chariot & slicing through all pedestrians with gay abandon!

farming-frenchstyle said...

Had one experience of La Tour - just as you described it (don't blink as the bikes approach!). Have got it on the telly as I type - you can see so much more! Will probably go again if it comes near to us, just for the crack.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi f-f! Yes... most people we know here looked bemused when we said we were going to see the Tour In The Flesh. And no, they didn't want to come too, thank you.

I think one experience will suffice for me too. Unless, of course, there exist VIP Viewing Hillocks with champagne and those nice verrine things you eat with dainty spoon from a glass...

JW10 said...

Your video is brill, Dolores, you have a lovely waving Regal hand: DD for Queen of France.

Occasionally I watch the tour on TV as it is nice to see beautiful parts of the countryside with all the little towns and villages inbetween with their foreign road signs. For the record, I do not look at the lycra clad riders.

Football, Dolores? Hell's teeth, you'll be watching cricket next.

Canary Islander said...

I was given an old heavyweight secondhand boneshaker when I was seven years old. It took me ages to get to ride it properly, because it was much too big for me. But it lasted all the way through my schooldays and college. Gosh, I loved that bike...
:-)

Dolores Doolittle said...

Thank you greatly, JW - I also have very regal ears. And I sound a right Charlie when it comes to speaking French too. (ho ho).

Watch Cricket??!! I'd rather be eaten by termites.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi CI - I quite enjoy the Boneshaking aspect. Have you got a photie?

Once borrowed my brother's bike for 4am surreptitious stuff. We were celebrating the last day of high school by launching our gymbags up the flagpole. Not a unique plan, but How it made us larf!
I could hardly reach the pedals & my plastic carrier got caught in the spokes, making a noise like a stick-along-the-railings, before plunging me onto the verge.
(But we did it)

Canary Islander said...

That sounds fun! My favourite nocturnal-happy-biking prank was to cycle up to Hampstead Heath and climb trees by the moonlight. And then the thrill of whizzing at breakneck speed down the hills home!!

I want to be a kid again!!!!
:-)

Dolores Doolittle said...

Climbing trees by moonlight - Romantic And Thrilling! I bet you took all your girls there!