So the mountains have started and what a couple of day it been so far and with Alpe D’Huez providing the crescendo for the Alps today.
When travelling by car to cover the race the mountains are often a wistful look at what might have been, all the curling hairpins to capture to the peloton winding its way up…the beautiful vistas of the giant peaks in the back ground. Its so often a one stop day, the lack of roads makes it impossible to get back ahead and catch them again. But if you can find a great spot all the could have’s vanish from memory
Yesterday driving the route we saw a beautiful damn over which the race went and the when winding up the climb to La Rosiere we were making calculation of whether it was possible to shoot down the hairpins and still get back ahead and stop. Sense prevailed and we found the spot, then a few KM later found a spot to park the car, which is usually more of a challenge. a few shortcuts between the hairpins and the walk down was relatively pleasant. The walk back up after the race had been through was less pleasant and a little bit sweaty but there’s a lot of walking to do for these pictures.
Post race was a big transfer from La Rosiere straight to the Alpe, miscalculated a little and had a 3 hour drive but luck was in and we found a restaurant open to get some found and the after hours check in worked perfectly. Getting there was a little more challenging as both of my Sat Nav’s (phone and a tomtom), at the same time, decided that it wasn’t possible to get to my destination…just want you need a you are just skirting round a major city and several motor way junctions. I had a complete sense of humor failure for at least 5 mins.
Still sleep was had, a tough ride was done this morning (fasted ride up Alpe D’Huez is not to be recommended)
Seeing as the riders haven’t raced today I leave the update on then vs me on KM’s until tomorrow…it’s safe to say my north to south transfer has pushed my lead significantly.
The first part of my transfer as far as Troyes went very smoothly…arrived at a nice hotel in enough time to get dinner. This almost went awry when sat there waiting for someone to take my order the kitchen closed. Somehow they took pity on me, and given there were 3 loads of team staff who were still going to get served I think the sad look in my eyes swung it.
Within minutes steak and fries appeared and a beer shortly after. The waiter was so apologetic they didn’t have the right glass for the beer, while this is almost certainly a crime in Belgium they may be more lenient in France and I know I could look past it
The following morning was entirely taken up with driving the rest of the way to Annecy. As I approached the accommodation I booked I was getting concerned as I was disappearing into smaller and smaller roads but somehow I’ve lucked out. The Gites is run by a lovely lady called Louise who welcomed me in with a cold drink and extended me the use of her washing machine…total result.
I can now head into the mountain stages with clean pants, socks and most importantly cycling kit.
While there wasn’t a bike race to photograph I thought I’d indulge in another subject….bee’s
So quite a lot of people have made it to the rest day, sadly quite a few haven’t and quite a few haven’t made it in great condition.
Today was not brilliant for me, i’ve done Roubaix enough times to know what it takes to cover it in a car but a cobbled stage is always a different kettle of fish so i went with both an easy and safe plan. After a pleasant 20 or so miles on a little tour of some local Great War memorials, which is always humbling, i headed out. Ignoring the start and striking out for the last section of cobbles which were in a cluster of potentially feasible photo opportunities.
Coming off the Motorway just as they were closing the junction and finding a great place park which meant i should be able to do 3 places i was feeling relaxed and even a little smug.
Heading out for corner of sector 4 i was surprised to see a press car coming up the cobbles as i thought we weren’t allowed today, but could swallow my jealousy as they would save me a hard sweaty run between the first two stops. But from this point Slowly, inexorably and almost inevitably the smile was wiped from my face.
The two leaders arrived…all was well…the yellow jersey group was just seconds away and at that point my world went light blue…a fan decided that was the perfect time and position to be waving a flag..brilliant! A few choice words, which he possibly didn’t understand and i headed to my lift, elbowing a few people out the way. At this point i realise the lens hood had fallen off my camera..too late now that cars moving.
The second spot save me, a nice clean picture of most key riders, although Geraint rudely decided to hide on the inside behind another rider, that one ticked off its time to head to the third. Again a little elbow work to get through the crowd and walk-jog to the car…at this point i see that my carefully planned escape route has been blocked…somehow in the 40 mins since i left someone parked up a camper van and put their awning across the rest of the road. Green with envy i watch the moto’s breeze under the awning and head off. Looks like the verge/field is my only option…and lets be honest it was mostly field i check for a ditch and once i am sure its safe i veer around and dash to the next spot.
By this time i am too late i’ve missed the Yellow jersey group and in some kind of Benny Hill tribute its at this point the belt slips on my shorts (my previous walk-jog must have knocked it) and its just as the race helicopter is directly above me. Picture if you will a small tornado of dust blowing around me while i try and keep my shorts up…i was not impressed.
Thankfully i got enough shots for the day and could head off of the first half of my 800km transfer to Annecy pretty quickly for the test day…which will hopfully involve some washing and a ride up a mountain..
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..