It’s almost like a tour from the 90’s and you could be forgiven for decrying it as dull compared to the constant full gas racing of this years Giro. But on the other hand can you blame the riders for taking it easy again with what lies in wait tomorrow…not exactly a silent assassin, more like a big brute of a security guard checking the list of names.
So as we wind further north and further east it’s was a “rolling”, as an old uni team mate who was fine with going up hill would have
lied described it.
Before we hit proper mountain I am often confused by categories of climbs…I drove up something that’s was probably 6mins of decent effort…and it didn’t even get a mention.
Scenic shots were the call of the day with several options out on course of fancy houses, odd buildings and cathedral’s. Not much action to be seen until the last 10km and that’s the purview of the Moto snappers…by that time I’ve been stood baking in the sunshine on the finish line for 30mins.
So with peloton essentially extending their club ride for a second day and finishing it with another decent town sign sprint it time to start planning tomorrow and the cobbles.
So today was a good chance for the riders to catch up with a super long stage…a whole 231KM. Sadly I still knocked that out of the park and notched up a few more miles than them…
It was mostly a quick quick slow day….quickly rushing to get to the start….slowly wandering around waiting for the riders to pop out.
Quickly getting back to the car…to slowly drive up the course and look for somewhere to stop and take some pictures.
Slowly walk through a field to avoid sweating too much…
Quickly run back to the car…quickly work out where the hell I am meant to be going…quickly get off the course…quickly get back on the course ahead of the race…
Slowly wait for them to arrive
Then slowly get off the race route again…this should have been fast but for some reason there seemed to be a lot of people walking along the road…
Quickly try and get to the finish…quickly turn around when I come off one junction too early…
Finally slowly wait for the peloton to remember there’s a race on and cap the 221KM club ride off with the traditional town sign sprint.
slowly leave Chartres…mainly because all the roads I wanted to take were still closed…but at least I briefly saw the cathedral…nice framed by some traffic lights…I’ll be a good photographer one day
So another stage crossed off..lots of stops with the twisty course and a whole load of coast line
And now it’s midway through the next stage….due to my travel companion wanting to watch some people kick a ball around it was a late night which meant not as much sleep and no time for a ride in some beautiful French county side.
Given how nice the hotel was I’ll be noting that one down for another time when there is a chance to enjoy.
As for my stop today…I found a big rock to stand on….unfortunately too many options is leaving me very indecisive. It would help if the sun would stop going behind clouds blue sky could make or break the stop
Repeat until it’s drilled in….thou shalt start the stage with a full tank….thou shall start the stage with a full tank.
This is pretty much race prep 101…and I’m blaming the dodgy fuel gauge and Apple maps. While I don’t have any photographic evidence of it…I’d swear blind that the tank was at least a 1/4 full. This should have been plenty to make it to the start but somehow the warning light flashed on…the dual carriageway we were on was more barren than some motorways in the U.K.
The sat bag. Siri and google betrayed us and it was pure lucky that not far up the road there was one open…2 Miles left on the range
Somehow despite this, we parked back in the same place (a convenient distance from the buses) we still made it Avant (leaving before the race)
In a catalogue or errors for the day once the stage was over I managed to pick the wrong location for the sat nav. 20mins later I spotted the error, turned it around and headed the right way. Luckily my travel companion was busy editing in the car and missed the awkward deja vu I had heading back the way we came.
When the night ends with not only getting a good dinner at a proper restaurant but also checking into your hotel (and sorting the double for the twin you had booked) you can’t be too upset…much worse has been endured..
Given today’s stages was a short (ish) team time trial for a brief minute I thought it was going to be a short easy day…how foolish i was.
A course recce didn’t leave us wowed, at least not from photo opportunities but there were a few options that could work.
22 teams…maybe 2 or 3 pictures each…be all done in a few hours…no need for podium pictures as we won’t make it back in time.
With plan A and B set we take a wonder through the team buses looking for some riders who might have ventured out early.
The cut of time drawing close we dash back to the car to head out on the course prior to the riders…it didn’t take very long for plans A and B to get thrown in the bin.
2mins late and security wouldn’t let us on the course and they didn’t really seem open to negotiation so plan C it was…dump the car and run around like crazy shooting Team as they waited and on the start ramp.
500 pictures later it was more like an individual time trial and a marathon editing effort to keyword and generally sort out.
Still it’s always fun being in the heart of the action
Totals so far
Riders 420.5 KM
Car 1717.17 KM
Bike 89.7 km
So day 2 is done and dusted, dinner was found, which in France after 9pm is always a pleasant surprise and now it’s time for bed.
Thankfully today was a later start, despite being over an hour and a half away it was a later start for us. To impress the irony or the alarm clock I squeezed in a nice pre-brekkie spin and rode pretty much to the stage 1 start. I left later than we did in the car for the first day and got almost 20miles. Somehow there was time for breakfast, faffing and all sorts before leaving for the stage.
If at any point you think working as a snapper on the tour is an awesome easy life I’ll keep totting up the miles I’ve driven. So far the grand total is 927 miles or 1492km for all the pro EU people.
The amount of racing I’ve seen is counted in minutes…even counting watching on a big screen through a zoom lens.
The TTT tomorrow should be fun…sat in the same place mostly for a few hours…22 picture to take…easy day…
So with the first stage done and dusted and the air time and column inches racking up from the excitement for the day my grand total is far in excess of the racing kilometres.
Having finally made it back to the hotel for dinner the grand total has now tipped into 4 figures…1120km. All that for just 201km if racing.
All in all a fairly poor first day, a few scene setting photos taken, a few portraits covered the first few photos. But at that point it all started to go sideways, a car with our credentials blocked the entry to the course and instead of cruising up the race route with our pick of places to stop we ended up watching the peloton gently rolling out.
What that left us with was a frantic dash along the coast trying to get ahead of the peloton.
Fast forward a few hours and I am standing on the finish line baking in the sun…
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better stage.
The Pro’s will be racing 3,351 kilometres, two rest days and we could round that up to 3,400 kilometres. It’s not going to be easy for them, the average speed will be somewhere around 40 kph (25 mph in proper units). But some of it will be easy for them…finish the stage and they will be ushered onto the team bus, to the hotel and generally be looked after. For those two horrendous transfers they will be flying…probably met on the runway at either end and once again ushered to their hotel.
This tour i’ll be keeping a count of how many miles, or as its Europe kilometers, I’ve covered (not including bike rides) from the point i leave home to the point i get back to my own bed.
The teams have been presented and before a single pedal had been turned in anger yet and i’ve already covered almost 400 miles or 643 kilometres.
By the time the first stage is done it’s going to be a lot more….
The nights are longer, the days are warmer..that can only mean one thing…its almost July, the peak of summer. That, in turn can only mean one thing it Tour time.
I’m making a big assumption, which sometimes is a poor assumption, that when i say the Tour (note the capitalisation) that people know what i am referring to. It’s not overly helpful that the french and english words for tour are exactly the same, when you say the Giro or the Vuelta and the strange word raises eye brows and a question.
More often than not, people know that i ride bikes and also know of the Tour but its clear from the follow up questions that might not entirely understand the concept. The conversationsusually goes
“i’m away in july at the Tour”
“wow you’re riding it”
“i’m not riding it…i’m working…taking photos”
So with only a few weeks to go its time to put the finishing touches to all the prep work, double check all the accommodation and make sure we’re not going to spend a night sleeping in a car, count how many changes of underwear you have.
For me i’m also working out what days i’ll get to ride my bike and try and engineer them to maximize those rides for the most fun, which mainly equals mountains.
It feels like i’m opening myself up to the criticism du jour but i find life stressful, i find the modern work place harder and harder to subjugate myself to. The pressure that i feel means that i no longer consider the modern work place to be a Dolly Parton kind of place…less 9-5 and more 9-9. Having the ability to check emails any time and any place and given my role working in IT designing systems meaning i can work any time and any place. Most days it feels like i am my own worst enemy creating the prison that i seem to willingly put myself into everyday.
So the question is, how best to maintain the work life balance or at least how best to distract my brain from thinking about work and exploding. Everyone has their outlet and coping strategy and mine is riding a bike.
I find that the training ride the best way to sort through the day, the week and solve problems, bimbling along the quiet sussex country lanes with only the odd pothole to focus the mind. The legs turn without thinking, riding on auto pilot leaves my brain free to think about what ever is troubling me that day and hopefully solve it or at least accept it.
What if i want more than that, what if i need to stop thinking about all of it, well racing is the way to go once you pin a number on that is all there is to think about.
A time trial is good start, but unless you are a complete glutton and do more than 25 miles its only going to distract you for an hour or so and i find the solo nature of it can lead to the mind wandering. There isn’t enough else going on to detract from the pain you are trying to inflict on yourself.
Road racing is the way to go, there is no chance of getting distracted, the wheel in front the wheel behind and the wheel on either side really focuses the mind. In a truly hard race the intensity of effort can be enough of a distraction, the surge of the peloton, the sprint out of the corners and then rise of the road. Trying to avoid the intensity can also be hard, watching the wind direction, following the right wheels and positioning yourself in the right place to smooth out the surges. At this point the brain enters a zen like state, what you are having for dinner is gone, the amount of unread emails in your mailbox and all the meetings you have the next day are obliterated. If you are truly lucky and this will last until you make it to bed when your legs are so tired all you can do is focus on refueling, cleaning and resting.
From the outside it might look like chaos but there truly is some calm and tranquility to find in the eye of the storm.