We awoke to a glorious morning full of sunshine! Off to Bordeaux on the country roads by 9 am; fifteen degrees (about 60); we headed north through the fields of corn, hay and some vineyards. Just realized that we really haven’t seen any sunflowers since we left the Carcassonne area; but we did start to see a few fields after the first couple of hours. We so enjoy the “slow” roads except for the trucks but Jim finds them very challenging on these two lane highways.
I said it was a glorious day but the clouds told a different story. I do hope you enjoy the photos of the morning…especially the clouds…as we travelled along….most of these photos are taken in a car moving rapidly! About 11 am we entered the town of Roquefort…the home of the famous cheese…wanted to see if the rumors of an odorous cloud in the city was true but we couldn’t smell anything?
By 11:30 we had rain…the car knew it before we did and turned on the windshield wipers for us! That was a first; and very unexpected in such an inexpensive car. Soon we were in Landon; stopped along the road and had a picnic lunch and then headed west in the direction of Bordeaux pass many vineyards and their owners’ chateaux’s. Beautiful driving on tree lined roads.
I thought you’d enjoy a photo of my maps that I created from the Internet last night…those with the race book and a large map of France have been my bible for the past several weeks. For the first time I do not read as Jim drives…it’s a two man process at our age!
We arrived in the south of Bordeaux where our hotel is located. We actually drove straight in on the race route. Only went around one barrier and after that all of the side streets were blocked by police but no one stopped us. We then got royally lost trying to find our hotel. Jim drove around the area for half an hour before we stopped; got out the cell phone and called the hotel for directions. Jim was sure that we were going to be stopped at any minute and held until nearly 6 pm because of the closing of the roads…it was only about 2 pm and we knew we were probably within walking distance of the hotel…we just could not find it!
We were not that far….but we needed to get on the Interstate…they call it the Speedway….and then get off at the next exit….simple once we had explicit directions! This was definitely the hardest to find; had we been on the toll roads….it would have been very easy.
But we are here….the wifi is free but only last for twenty minutes and then you have to sign back on…frustrating but it works! And we have our own bathroom…such as it is…the shower works with a hose from the sink faucet! We were so tired of driving and having driven the course for about five miles; we decided to relax and watch the race on television in our room. No surprises are expected as the course is fairly flat and the sprinters will probably take the stage; none of them are very high in the overall standings. And the Caravan….we’ve got so much now that I don’t know how we’re going to fit it all into the suitcases.
So tonight after dinner we’ll drive into the city and see the lay of the land. The time trials are tomorrow out of Bordeaux and they leave early in the morning about 10:30 am with staggered starts for the fifty two mile course to Pauillac in the north towards the coast. The top riders will not leave until 1 pm. For today’s stage there are four riders, each from a different team, that have been out front in a breakaway from near the beginning of the race and they’re only about two minutes ahead of the peloton. These will be caught before the end Jim is sure and then a sprinter will take the win for Stage 18.
The race is less than four kilometers from the finish and they still have one more to catch….but it’s a done deal they are within …opps they just caught him and now the sprinters will take over. It’s Team Columbia out in front as they head in for the finish!
What a finish….a full sprint….so dangerous but so exciting to watch! Mark Cavendish (a British Rider) of HTC-Columbia (a USA team) took the win for Stage 18 of the TdF! The overall standings remain the same as yesterday. See you tomorrow afternoon!