July 25, 2004

Fin de Course or Intermission, Act II

The thing that I liked most about coming to see the Tour de France in person were the sights and sounds that you never get to see on TV. The energy of the people on the roadside. The caravan coming through. The thrill of the peloton. Running the Tour de France is an amazing job. The race is assembled like a rolling caravan throughout the country and as soon as it goes by the roads are restored to normal circulation. One of my favorite things in watching the tour was the special truck that drives right at the end of the race behind everything. It’s a non-descript vehicle and on the back with red letters on white are the words

Fin de Course

I don’t know exactly why I found that so special. I told Tammy it was like a classic movie where they actually put The End” on the screen before rolling the credits. It just seemed well suited.

If I can extend the metaphor, we have finished the first course of our trip and are sending off the hectic days of the Tour de France in favor of relaxing days of strolling the streets of Paris and visiting museums.

Before we leave the cycling, a couple of notes:

  • If you plan a cycling trip to the Alpes, be careful. You do not want to go through the expense and hassle of coming here only to be stupid on a mountain descent, go down and hurt yourself. A decent number of people had accidents and in nearly all cases it was a lack of IQ and skill. Remember, you didn’t grow up descending alpine roads.

  • Packing your bike and lugging it around is a pain in the neck and very heavy. We’ll be glad to drop them off at UPS today.

  • The French are amazingly nice and considerate to cyclists. The only time I ever felt the pressure of traffic was a short jaunt on a freeway when we were lost on a ride. The drivers in the country and villages are amazing and even though there are no shoulders, you feel completely at ease.

  • Seeing the Tour de France in person is amazing, but I missed OLN. The daily TV coverage is so much more informative. If you love the tour and do not at least read French, be ready to have very little information. While there is ten times the coverage here, it’s entirely French. (They show the tour live on three channels all day!)

  • Bikestyle did a great job. The accommodations were fine, travel was well managed and Tammy and I both felt comfortable at all times.

That’s all for that. We’re going to transfer to our next hotel and I’ll probably post some more frequent notes before we head off to Switzerland. I’ll try to get some photos up as well. I’ve been copying all the photos we’ve taken so far to the server at home but it takes some time to transfer 2.5 gigabytes even on the high-speed in the hotel.

France Tour de France Cycling Travel

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Tour de France 2004 Stage 20 - Montereau to Paris (Champs Elysees) Today we saw what we came here to see, history being made. Lance crossed the finish line on the Champs Elysees this afternoon to become the first
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Spiderman Deux Tammy and I went and saw Spiderman 2 this evening in Paris. I always think it sounds kind of wierd to go to a movie when you are on vacation, but