17 July 2007

Tour de FRANCE : Saturday to Grand Bornand


It's Thursday morning here, and you've heard rumours of the film I'm creating for my day at the Tour de France... patience!

Using a new software, isn't the best way to rapidly go from Computer to YouTube to my Blog...

Update 19 February 2008: here is the YouTUBE AT LAST...

Anyway, Saturday was a perfectly SCORCHING summer day, just as it was last year, when Our Hero Floyd Landis wailed up those Cols towards Morzine, and regained 7 of the 8 or more minutes he'd lost when bonking the day before.

I live near Geneva, on the shores of Lac Léman, and I was about 60+ km from le Grand Bornand, where Saturday's stage would arrive. My ride across the French 'countryside' involved one of their "N" roads ('National route'), the equivalent in the US would be a 'US Highway' like Route 6, which comes across Colorado and winds its path out across Utah and Nevada...

Around the first foothill, across the valley of the Arve river, born in the glaciers of Mount Blanc, to the foothills of the Massif des Aravis, is about 55km, or about 32 miles. My only problem, was an increasingly loud, grating Bottom Bracket, the axle which unites the crank arms and allows the pedaling action.

So I thought it unwise to climb too high up the pass Col de la Colombière. As well, I really wanted to see the finish, and I knew if I stayed on the lower half of the hill, I could watch the beginnings of the tactical assault, yet still early enough that the sprinters' 'Gruppetto' would still be less than a kilometer or two behind the stronger climbers.

So I found a tight, climbing left-hand turn, which crossed a beautiful small brook, and had plenty of shade for the four-hour wait, plenty of relief from which to take films, and a gorgeous old stone bridge that served well as a backdrop to the action: the corner was so tight, that no one sane would think to stand there.

I met a nice family from Telluride, COLO (aka To-Hell-You-Ride), and the wife mentioned that they had only gone climbing in the Dolomites of Italy, and 'by hazard' found that their drive back to Paris would cross the Tour route: their finding the same corner as ZENmud allowed us to reminisce about the Colorado Rockies (ZENmud hails from Vail, you see........).

Anyway, I was travelling light, took no food but a cereal-bar, found a café, at the base of the ascent, wherein I purchased a liter of water, hoping that the sponsoring Aquarel trucks would be lenient on their passage... four hours anywhere at an altitude of 8-900 meters is thirsty time.

So waiting and chatting with strangers, seeking the faces of anyone I knew, knowing various comrades were across the ranges, towards Italy or Val d'Isère, was a warming thought.

The show begins as it does, often with the French police screaming up the hills in cars, vans and motos; our 'highlight du jour' was the little French Peugeot police car that FUMED a sinister amount of pollution, while the crowd HOWLED and ran for cover, escaping the clinging blue fumes that he laid upon us like a wet blanket of death... GASsssssssspppp

Then the sponsor's caravan, a truly French spectacle which can be best understood if you seek the great animated film 'Les Triplettes de Belleville', which was written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, and personally a ZENfave film...

How to show the hundreds of thousands of TourFriends along the route, the commercial aspects of this spectacle, is difficult, unless you form a parade about 25km long, pursuing their own company's image while racing by the very fans, some less than some centimeters away from cars doing 30-80km? How to throw 'gadgets' so as not to leave scars?

And then... what's that noise? The Helicopters!

Down across the valley, the heli's are following the leaders, and we all revive our lost adrenalin, to anticipate when the leading police cars, Commissaires' cars and police motos will give way to the screams of racing fans lining the stretches below us!

And then it's THAT MOMENT... Taking films means not being 'in the moment' directly, anxious to maintain camera angles and ensure proper enregistering of their passage...

So hang on, you know by now what happened, and within hours or days I'll have put my YouTube films in this and subsequent posts.


ç*””*”*”*ç*””* ZENmud *””*ç*”*”*””*ç

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