Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day in France

Happy Bastille Day! There will be fireworks tonight to celebrate but since it doesn’t get dark until nearly 11 pm; we probably won’t see any of the show! But this morning we were out the door by 8:30 am looking for the roads to be used in the race today. Based on the information from the Caravan Crews yesterday, we located the D1090 that wasn’t far from our hotel that is south of Chambery. Then we worked backwards until we were nearly at the start line in the city center of Chambery. Turned around and headed back…stopping regularly to take photos of the wonderful displays that people set up to honor the tour.

We had preselected several good spots on the way into town but our favorite was on a curve at the bottom of a small hill that had shade for Jim and a public toilet only two blocks away at a park on a lake. We pulled in with several other cars alongside a beautiful country house. The owners came out and in French let us know where we could and could not park. Later, he directed another car to our favorite spot that he would not let us use….he must have been holding it for a friend. But they were friendly enough and generous in sharing their space with the American Tourists! Each time something would happen; the owner and his wife would come out of the house and enjoy the events.

We’d arrived at our spot before 10 am; the Caravan arrived about 11:30 am….didn’t get quite as much of the throw aways today as there was more competition for the items than yesterday. But, we did get another jersey and several more hats along with some other things. Jim stood on the opposite side of the road along the vineyard but he had some competition there also. One of the items they were tossing was a package of liquid soap…it hit me square in the face on my nose…smarted for about ten minutes!

After the Caravan passed we had another hour to wait for the bicycle riders who arrived at 1:15 pm. I took the opportunity to walk to the park where I watched the kids swimming in the lake. A group of boys had rigged a long rope from a tree and were jumping into the lake. Many families were enjoying picnics in the park as they waited for the Tour de France to arrive. When we heard the helicopters overhead…a sure sign that the riders were nearby; we stood with our flag on the corner and the French owners gave us a big “thumbs up” sign when they saw our flag! Lots of waves from the support cars as they passed by; there was a small breakaway of eight riders out in front but the balance was in a peloton at the point where we saw them. It was still very early in the race. They are headed down past Grenoble today and into Gap after several mountains.

It was announced last night that Cadel Evans broke his elbow on the fall early Sunday morning….the same day he managed to win the Yellow Jersey. They didn’t announce it until yesterday as he rode in the Yellow all day…and he will continue to ride but has lost all opportunity for a strong finish because of the injury.

After viewing the race we drove back to the hotel so that we could watch today’s race and also take care of checking the banking online…something very necessary during a trip. In reading the French newspapers we’ve discovered that Lance Armstrong is #31 overall and 15 minutes 54 seconds behind the leader Andy Schleck as of the end of the day yesterday.

RadioShack Riders in the top standings are: Levi Leipheimer is # 6 at 3’59” behind Schleck and Andrea Kloden is #20 at 9’05”. Chris Horner is # 25 at 11’06”.

Team placement to date: RadioShack is second place only 5’53” behind the first place team of Caisse D’Epargne. Astana is third with 8’40” behind and Saxo Bank is 9th at 14’36”. This is based on the overall performance of the entire team.

The race ended with a young RadioShack Team member named Sergio Paulinho winning Stage 10; all of the other standing remained the same. A rather uneventful race except when they showed the film of Beloki’s crash in 2003 as he was coming into Gap and Lance Armstrong in the yellow jersey had to cut across a field…they were on a hairpin curve…to stay in the race and not hit him as he lay on the road with a broken hip. They showed it without warning (at least we didn’t understand) and for just a second we thought that we were seeing a crash! Added an element of excitement to our afternoon! Jim used the microwave in the lobby and fixed us TV Dinners that we’d purchased at the store on Monday….really good…I had rabbit and potatoes in a sauce and Jim had chicken and rice in a tomato sauce; a nice change from our cold dinners of Tuna and vegetables out of a can! Yes…we’re still shopping at the grocery store and fixing our meals in our room….very economical. It’s a fun challenge on this trip to see how cheaply we can travel and still enjoy ourselves! Jim is looking for canard (duck) in a reduced sauce and that will make his day!

Right now we have a big storm brewing; I think its part of the system that dumped on Paris today during the big Bastille Day Parade. The news on the television showing their parade indicated heavy, heavy rain.

We drove around our area this evening; we’re in a village called Chignin, about ten kilometers south of Chambery. Some corn crops but mostly vineyards that go right up the mountains. We have a castle just up the hill so we drove up to get some photos. The one has been restored and almost looks new from a distance. There are several towers covered in vines from an old castle. It was fun driving around in the hills; amazing how the narrow roads just kept twisting up and up and up…occasionally coming to a very small village and then continuing on. We finally turned around or we’d have been in Switzerland before we knew it! Back to our hotel and a few photos of the lavender plants in the entry…couldn’t resist!

1 comment:

Mary said...

Neat neat blog about the TdF race.
Hope that you do invest in a couple of chair..even one would be nice as you could share it. I have been keeping the articles about the race in the USA Today. Three Cheers for Radio Shack today !!!
Who knows what may happen during the upcoming days.