My trip to Le Tour de France 2003

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Amh, Jul 29, 2003.

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  1. Amh

    Amh Guest

    My trip to the Tour de France, 2003.

    For all you folks who didn't get to go see it in person. Please live vicariously through my report.
    Note that my gf and I didn't do any cycling so this is a report about other people cycling.

    enjoy, (I hope) Andy

    I really have to start by saying if you can make the trip to France to see the tour live DO IT!

    My gf and I started in Paris on July 4th, 2003. Since she works for a magazine publisher we were
    able to snag 2 press passes for the stages we would be around for. She rocks!

    Team presentation in Paris 7-4-03. The day we arrived in Paris we had to run around for the press
    passes and were able to make it back to the Hotel d’Ville in time for the team presentation.
    Each team rolled out onto the stage and the riders were introduced one by one, along with the
    director sportif. The presenter listed each rider’s accomplishments in various tours and
    races. After a bit I worked up the courage to join the other photographers in the mad scramble to
    take pictures as the teams rolled in and got a few cool team shots. The Devil made an appearance in
    the audience, stealing some attention from whichever team was being presented. There were a few
    musical breaks with the large video screen showing the teams riding through Paris. At long last we
    got up to the US postal team. It must have been around 9:30 by things ended but to us it felt more
    like the early am hours.

    Proglogue 7-5-03: 12 hours of sleep will cure jet lag! I was awake around noon and we headed out to
    the History of the Tour exhibit at the Hotel d’ville. This excellent exhibit displayed photos
    of some of the famous tour stories from 1903 to the present. There was a very interesting display of
    a 1950’s tour bike next to a 2003 tour bike along with clothing and other accessories. After
    seeing the exhibit we went to the Eiffel Tower to check out the start village. There were a few
    riders at the sponsor booths but there really wasn’t much to see. The big riders probably
    arrived well after we were on the course. We then found a spot about 1k from the finish and I
    snapped a few photos. Next we headed to the finish area and got a good spot a bit beyond the finish
    line where the riders were giving post race interviews. I was in awe of the bikes and the riders
    just milling about amongst the reporters. I wanted to be on the course for the last riders and got a
    spot again 1k from the finish. We were right at the spot where David Miller had to fiddle with his
    chain. But I had my camera on zoom and didn’t get a shot, damn! Virenque went past to
    thunderous cheers as did Ulrich. Armstrong, in yellow, also got strong cheers. The jersey ceremony
    was a zoo so I didn’t anywhere near the podium for a shot of McGee in yellow.

    Stage 1 7-6-03: We went to the Place de le Republic to watch the parade ride through the streets of
    Paris. The publicity caravan was through before we got there but we did see the group of youth
    riders that went through before the tour. A bunch of tour vehicles came through and then the
    peloton. McGee in yellow was at the head and it was over about 30 seconds after the riders arrived.
    The team busses followed and that was it. Since I had never been to France before we spent the rest
    of the day touring Paris.

    Stage 3 7-8-03: After visiting with friends outside Troyes we sped up to St. Dizier just in time to
    catch the tour arriving at the finish. By the time I got to the finish riders were already filtering
    through to the team busses. I did manage to get a Kelme water bottle from a rider as a souvenir and
    a few up close photos. The riders weren’t all that interested in making nice with the public,
    sweaty and tired as they were. My gf had made it to the finish area just before the riders did and
    was too confused to do much more than watch the jersey ceremony. We went to the press room and got
    the results pages as well as the “film de etape” a narrative of the day’s events.
    The tv’s were showing the post stage interviews as reporters were typing furiously on their
    computers. There was a quiet buzz about the room, even the sound of some guy plucking on a
    typewriter! I didn’t see Phil Ligget but I did spot the photographer with the giant bicycle
    mustache, so big it has clips to hold it in place. We also picked up the media decal for our rental
    car. Before we left we toured an exhibit at the local history museum documenting some local cycling
    history. Turns out the St. Dizier area had the first bicycle ice cream vendors, the company that
    became Miko, a tour sponsor in the days of Merckx. An early pioneer in steel frames, pedals and
    chains also did his bicycle tinkering near by. And finally a local daredevil set a few speed records
    while being paced behind a motor car. He went some 60 mph riding a bike with a 75 tooth chain ring.

    Stage 4 the Team Time Trial 7-9-03. While driving back from St. Dizier we drove the last 10 miles of
    the TTT route. There were at least 20 villages of mobile homes strung out along the side of the
    road. We drove to the route and parked the car in a good spot a little past the half way point.
    There were only a smattering of spectators around us but down the road was a mobile home village.
    While walking around we saw that we had parked about a quarter mile from the famed tour Devil. I
    snapped a photo of him and my gf. US postal went by on their test run as did Team Telekom (I think).
    We had a few hours to kill before the publicity caravan arrived and met a couple from around Metz
    and chatted with them for a while. Claude was an expert in getting the publicity caravan to throw
    stuff at us. It is amazing what adults will scramble on the ground for. But I did get a credit
    lyoneese yellow bag! At long last the teams started to come by. We had the start list so we knew who
    were coming when. I marked off which teams I wanted to photograph and which teams I wanted to video.
    We could see the group of spectators ahead of us cheering just before the motorbike came through
    followed by the team. The disk wheels whooshed by with most of the riders on their aerobars. Without
    the crowds I had an unobstructed view and went a bit snap happy with the camera. The video of the US
    Postal team came out great. Once the last tour vehicle went past the road was just an ordinary road
    again. We said our good byes to our neighbors we had shared the past 4 or so hours with and went
    back to Troyes for dinner.

    Stage 5 7-10-03: We packed up at the hostel we were staying in to catch the start of the 5th stage
    in Troyes. We found our color coded parking area and proceeded to the start village. I wandered
    around the sign in area and watched the caravan head off on to the route while my gf got an
    interview with a tour sponsor. I was amazed by that 5 days of driving around France didn’t
    take the smiles off the pretty girls on the cars, they still had three quarters of the race to go.
    I found a spot in front of the sign in booth. Bernard Hinault and Stephen Roche presented the most
    aggressive rider with his award. A BMX rider did some tricks for us before the riders signed in.
    Some riders just walked right up the stairs while others, notably Tyler Hamilton, were less
    sprite. US postal was presented with the team award and Victor Pena, as the race leader, was
    awarded his weight in champagne. Meanwhile my gf was having a field day schmoozing with riders by
    the team busses and got a few autographs. Without much more fanfare the stage started and we were
    left in Troyes. On our way out we snagged one of the route arrows as a souvenir as we headed off
    to the Alps.

    Stage 7 7-12-03: Our host in Chamonix advised us to try driving the Col de Joux Plan to get to
    Morzine. We found our way and were climbing up into the Alps. I was amazed the tour actually used
    this road, it seemed like a back yard drive rather than a potential race road. We knew we were on
    the right road when we saw rider’s names painted on the roadway. There was the ever present
    Virenque but the Patrice Halgand fan club was certainly busy the last time the tour crossed Joux
    Plan. We arrived in Morzine and found a place to park and walked along the race course towards the
    finish just as the caravan was rolling through. We found the press tent next the finish and watched
    the tour coverage. Richard Virenque was making his break up the final Cat 1 climb and the crowd
    erupted with every Virenque update. Also in the tent was the Columbian broadcaster doing the play by
    play over a phone. I didn’t understand a word of his broadcast (despite 3 years of high school
    Spanish) but he was the most excited of any other broadcaster. I went outside to get a good spot for
    the finish. The last kilometer was set up in sort of a giant curl and from the roaring it was easy
    to figure out that Virenque was getting closer. As it turned out my spot sucked and all I could see
    was the scrum of reporters surrounding Virenque as he made his way through the finish area. The next
    group came in and I was able to get photos of most of the big names as they were being interviewed.
    I tried to make it to the jersey presentation but it was over and done with before I could figure
    out how to get there. It took quite a hike to get to the press room and once we were there we had
    our digital pictures transferred to a cd and dropped off some photos for printing. We picked up our
    results sheets and watched a few interviews before heading off to a press buffet of local foods.

    Stage 8 7-13-03: The big day and our last with the tour. I debated how we should spend the day. I
    kind of wanted to drive the route ahead of the riders. But we had a great time at the prior village
    de depart. We decided do the start and high tail it to Alpe d’huez for the finish. I wandered
    to the caravan staging area while my gf wandered the ville de depart. Telekom (I think) was giving
    out free phone calls so she decided to call home forgetting that we were 6 hours ahead and
    hadn’t gotten out of the single digit hours in the morning. But we had just gotten engaged so
    I guess she could be forgiven. I, being the kind son I am, sent my mom an e-mail rather than wake
    her up. I skipped the rider sign in and wandered around the team busses. I had gotten a cache that
    the local post office had stamped with a special postmark and my now fiancée found Lance and got his
    autograph on the envelope. She was also able to get Richard Virenque’s autograph on the
    day’s edition of L’equipe. We were able to wander around the start area and it
    wasn’t long before riders started to file in. There we are standing at the start area just
    before the start. If I had had a bike I could have ridden away with the tour, well the first few
    kilometers. After the depart we ran to our car and took off for Alpe d’huez. On the road we
    passed a few tour vehicles so we knew we weren’t too late for the finish. Just before getting
    to Grenoble we passed the US Postal bus. All was clear until we got on to the road heading to the
    alpe. Traffic backed up a bit but moved. We were behind a France 2 car and followed it when the
    driver drove along the empty oncoming traffic lane. At an intersection non tour traffic was diverted
    away. Our car with our media sticker was waved through and soon we were on the road with thousands
    cyclists and fans walking. The tour was just starting to climb Telegraph when we arrived at the base
    of the climb up to alpe d’huez. Man this place is insane. There isn’t one inch of the
    road that isn’t crawling with cycling fans. There are cyclists riding up, fans painting the
    road and mass hysteria. At one point the fans were all wearing orange announcing we had entered the
    “Dutch” zone. Rabbobank banners were all over. As we slowed to a crawl fans started
    dousing the car with water bottles before I could close my window. With each hairpin turn the view
    changed and at 5k to go barriers kept the road clear of fans. We were turned off before the finish
    and made ourselves a parking spot. At the press room we watched the final kilometers of the climb up
    the col du Galibier. I then went outside to find a spot on the course. On my walk down I saw the
    publicity caravan making its way through the final hairpins. I worked my way into the crowd just
    before the 4 kilometer to go sign and waited. First a few helicopters flew by then one hovered above
    the valley and we knew the riders weren’t far off. A few cars trickled by and then the turns
    below us erupted into cheering. I could see the road about 1km away and check for riders. Everybody
    stood up and got their cameras out and finally Iban Mayo rode past. A minute or so later Vinokurev
    glided by. Armstrong and company was next to rider by and I was shooting a video as they rode past.
    The cheers continued as the long wait for Virenque, in the yellow jersey, to arrive. Soon after I
    vacated my spot and began to walk up to the summit. The first large group came by and I snapped a
    few shots and not long after that another group arrived. All the time fans cheered wildly even if a
    lone rider passed through. I finally made it back to the finish area just in time to see Iban Mayo
    doing his victory cruise. The last rider to finish looked totally drained. My gf and I headed back
    to the press room to collect photos, transfer more photos to disk and pick up the results. We found
    the buffet and chowed down on chicken and cous-cous. One last tour of the press room and we were
    back outside loading the car. On the way down the mountain we encountered pretty heavy traffic.
    While we waited a gendarme chatted with us and said the crowd was almost 500,000 fans large. Once we
    moved again another gendarme signaled us on to a side road for an alternate route down. As much as I
    hate sitting in traffic I think I would have rather sat and fumed than drive this road. It was a one
    lane affair that made me feel as though I was in an airplane. The road makers had thoughtfully not
    put a guard rail up so we had an unobstructed view of the valley way below. I was driving and also
    the one overlooking this drop. We went through one small village and I think we came through
    someone’s back yard. Now the road curved down the mountain in wooded terrain much to my
    relief. On our way back to Chamonix we went through Albertville and just as we arrived the Bastille
    Day fireworks were being shot off. A fitting end to our last day with the tour.
     
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  2. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    amh wrote about getting down Alpe d'Huez:

    > On the way down the mountain we encountered pretty heavy traffic. While we waited a gendarme
    > chatted with us and said the crowd was almost 500,000 fans large. Once we moved again another
    > gendarme signaled us on to a side road for an alternate route down. As much as I hate sitting in
    > traffic I think I would have rather sat and fumed than drive this road. It was a one lane affair
    > that made me feel as though I was in an airplane. The road makers had thoughtfully not put a guard
    > rail up so we had an unobstructed view of the valley way below. I was driving and also the one
    > overlooking this drop.

    That's a very cool cycling road, leading down to the village of Allemont. They were only letting
    bicycles and official cars (no trucks) down the road. Our group rode down that way and had a nice,
    scenic cruise back to Allemont. Here's what it looked like after the stage:

    http://www.terrymorse.com/terry/temp/P7130101.jpg

    A nice descent with several switchbacks. A little harrowing for a car, but excellent on a bike.
    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/
     
  3. On 29 Jul 2003 12:50:54 -0700, amh wrote:

    >My trip to the Tour de France, 2003.
    >
    Jealousy (mine) rears its ugly head.

    Layne

    -------------------------------------------------------
    The rec.running report archives may be found at http://kinder.cis.unf.edu/rec.running
     
  4. Amh

    Amh Guest

    Terry Morse <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > amh wrote about getting down Alpe d'Huez:
    >
    > > On the way down the mountain we encountered pretty heavy traffic. While we waited a gendarme
    > > chatted with us and said the crowd was almost 500,000 fans large. Once we moved again another
    > > gendarme signaled us on to a side road for an alternate route down. As much as I hate sitting in
    > > traffic I think I would have rather sat and fumed than drive this road. It was a one lane affair
    > > that made me feel as though I was in an airplane. The road makers had thoughtfully not put a
    > > guard rail up so we had an unobstructed view of the valley way below. I was driving and also the
    > > one overlooking this drop.
    >
    >
    > That's a very cool cycling road, leading down to the village of Allemont. They were only letting
    > bicycles and official cars (no trucks) down the road. Our group rode down that way and had a nice,
    > scenic cruise back to Allemont. Here's what it looked like after the stage:
    >
    > http://www.terrymorse.com/terry/temp/P7130101.jpg
    >
    > A nice descent with several switchbacks. A little harrowing for a car, but excellent on a bike.

    A little harrowing is putting it mildly. Add to that the sun glare every time I went around a right
    turn! That was an amazing day! The scale of the race first hand is so much larger than it is on TV.

    Thanks for the pic. If you want to trade any let me know. We came home with 400+ pictures including
    a few videos.

    Andy
     
  5. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    amh wrote:

    > Thanks for the pic. If you want to trade any let me know. We came home with 400+ pictures
    > including a few videos.

    I have a boatload of photos, too. I'll post them on my web site as soon as I have a chance to sort
    through them all.
    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/
     
  6. Raptor

    Raptor Guest

    amh wrote:
    > My trip to the Tour de France, 2003.
    >
    > For all you folks who didn't get to go see it in person. Please live vicariously through my
    > report. Note that my gf and I didn't do any cycling so this is a report about other people
    > cycling.
    >
    > enjoy, (I hope) Andy

    Did, very much. What's the chance of seeing some of your really cool-sounding pics or videos?

    --
    --
    Lynn Wallace http://www.xmission.com/~lawall "I'm not proud. We really haven't done everything we
    could to protect our customers. Our products just aren't engineered for security." --Microsoft VP in
    charge of Windows OS Development, Brian Valentine.
     
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