Tales from the Tour…sweaty sunflowers

While sleeping with your face 50cm from the ceiling may not be ideal, getting up early to ride your bike on warm sunny day on some fairly quiet roads does make up for it.

It was as i headed out on my ride that i realised how close we were to the start for that morning as i had done barely a mile and came across proper race barriers. In a desire to avoid a start village i looked around for something to head for in a different direction and having seen a spire poking above the tree line i pointed the bike uphill and headed onward.

If i had had a chance to read more of the tourism section from the Tour road book i might have known what i was heading for. La Motte being a small chapel that crowns the hill of the same name and the top affords fantastic views of Vesoul and the surround area. To outline how hard and steep the climb was my slightly over geared pace did leave me vulnerable to being overtaken…two runners doing intervals up the paths overtook me…but they were collapsed at the top, when i finally got there

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As a distraction from the beautiful views i was a little concerned by the presence of these signs and very quickly took my photos and headed back down

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with a bike ride out the way and a filthy McDonalds breakfast beckoning it was time to start thinking of photos and some proper bike riders.

With a plan firmly set for the day, map points planned for navigation we headed to the start to bake a bit in the sunshine as the riders started turning up…shame the panoramic shot was ruined by a giant cherry picker lift

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Having done the start and headed out from the start it became clear the “plan” had gone down the toilet the moment we left…one missed turn and a badly programmed sat nav sent us just far enough in the wrong direction that is cost us our entry onto the route, which in turn probably killed off at least 1 stop for the day.

A combination of good navigation, some tiny French roads and some luck we managed to get round and ahead of the bunch and came across some Gendarmes tat were feeling generous to let us past their barriers.

Having got on course and worked out we only really had one opportunity and a hard cut off point where it would be straight to the finish we were desperately scanning the surroundings hoping to see something photogenic. We were almost at buckling point of either shooting with some tall brown grass or just sacking it off and going to the finish when i saw what i was hoping for…a big enough patch of sunflowers.

Now i am not going to lie, these aren’t anything compared to the glorious fields of yellow further down south, but given how frequently i have missed those opportunities i wasn’t going to pass this up . The  only challenge now was finding a shot that worked, and when its hot enough that sweat is pouring off you and the sunflowers surrounding you are actually taller than you it becomes a little stressful. Having changed my mind at least 4 times and fought my way much further into the field that i had really planned the peloton came and went and the race was on to firstly get out of the field, which was a little challenging, but to the finish in time. After the poor show of navigation from the start of the day we lifted the standard for the afternoon with the only spanner in the works being this level crossingIMG_2786

A decent sprint finish and quite a few other good pics rounded out the day nicely.  All that was left was to find our accommodation, eat some food and hopefully some beer…

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