As a thank you to Jen for all her suggestions and advice, I'll start at the end of our trip and the Prologue of Le Tour de France. This was one of my favorite days from the vacation and I am now convinced that I could live in an RV with two small children for twenty-one days and follow this race around France.
My interest in cycling is purely as a spectator and began after Hew's birth. Home on maternity leave with a constantly nursing child and a slightly jealous two year old, I needed an escape badly. As Hew nursed, I started watching the Tour because of the scenery - the nice mountains, the pretty fields, the quaint towns. I eventually learned the team names and then the riders. Soon, I was hooked on the racing - the doping scandals, the French bitterness at an American winner, the peloton, the king of the mountain race . . . I could go on and on.
When we learned our trip to France would coincide with the opening day of the Tour, I knew we were headed to Strasbourg. This year's Prologue was an individual time trial through the streets of Strasbourg. We arrived hours before the beginning of the race to stake out a shady spot where we could see the riders beginning and ending the race. We had lunch supplies and water, but had sadly forgotten our creme de soliel. After a quick stop at a pharmacy where I was lectured in French about how I must apply the 30 SPF every two hours due to my pale skin, we were ready.
This pic is for Jen . . .
This is Team Discovery warming-up with George Hincapie in the middle.
This is a picture of the shirt vendors. It cracked me up because it was the only place I every seen just men shopping. Even PH thought he needed a team shirt and couldn't decide between a Phonak team shirt or CSC team shirt. He generally supports Team Discovery. When I questioned why not Discovery, I was told he didn't like "the colors." I had to turn away before laughing hysterically:)
This is one of the floats from the parade. The parade goes on before the race and each floats throws various objects (hats, bags, noise makers, bottle openers, pens, cardboard hands, etc) into the crowd. We came back with a bag full of junk thanks to a very tall German who was standing next to us and wanted to make we came home with souvenirs.
It took me awhile to figure out what this great big phallic symbol on top of the car was advertising. It's a pen - yeah, that wasn't my first guess:)
Finally, the race! This is Guiseppe Guerini from T-Mobile as he left out on to the course. We were standing right up against the fence and PH would lean out to get the photos of the riders. A couple times I thought he was about to be hit by a rider who was close to the fence. You could feel the whoosh as the rider went by. Needless to say, we have 50+ photos that look exactly like this.
Since coming home, I haven't been able to watch as much of the race as I would like. My early favorite was George Hincapie of Team Discovery, who is struggling. However, Floyd Landis of Phonak (an American) is riding well. I have admit to feeling a certain amount of delight in another American winning this race! Viva Le Tour!