Saturday, July 19, 2008

La Tour de France

Today, the Tour de France came to a town near me.

Jerome, Gus, Mary, Mary's nephew and myself got up fairly early to go and watch the Tour de France in the town of Cavaillon, about a 30 minute drive away from Aix. I knew that it would be a bit anti-climactic, but still, I had a chance to see the Tour de France!

We arrived with about 3 hours to kill before they rode through, so we went searching for some lunch. After stopping at the supermarket, a McDonald's and a restaurant, we finally found a bakery that was open. That is correct, the big stores were all closed so that their staff could go and watch the race live! I couldn't imagine any place in Canada closing down just because a bike race was coming through...think of the lost profit! But here in France, leisure time is more important than working. Someone finally gets it!

We found a place to sit in the shade, as many more people slowly trickled in to find places to sit. Shortly, the sponsor cars started to roll by, with pretty girls tossing trinkets into the crowd. It is amazing how much people will argue over stupid little key chains and bobbles! I actually lucked out and caught something. I was in the middle of taking a photo, when I saw something launched my way. Automatically, my left hand went up, and without actually seeing, I caught it. Yippee! A deck of cards! LOL, stupid trinkets. I think that the catch was more impressive than what I got.

So after a few hours of sponsors, police motorcycles, more sponsors, press cars, and race officials, we finally got word that the racers where on their way. Off in the distance, you could see 4 or 5 helicopters circling like birds of prey looking for a kill.

We were sitting by a traffic circle, and we thought that if we stayed where we were in the shade, then the bikes would be going past on the other side of the road, and we would miss them. So last minute move to the other side, and we were ready.

Finally, we heard that 4 cyclists were in the lead, and when we saw the red car, they would be right behind them. So, armed with the camera on high speed, multi shot mode I prepared myself. The first four came around the corner, and I started snapping photos. The next group was fairly large, and I fired off a ton more shots. I paused, and Gus yelled at me that there were more, so I quickly turned and continued to shoot. Gus ten yelled, that the leader, the one in the yellow had passed us, so I quickly turned, fired off a few more shots toward him.

Thirty seconds was all over. That was it, three hours waiting, thirty seconds of action. I managed one hundred and ninety-two photos, with about 50 or so of the bikes. I did manage a few decent ones, which I will post later on Flickr (when I get through all of my Europe trip photos).

Since we had to work, we left right away. After a few back roads, we got to the Autoroute, and headed back to Aix. No more than 10 kilometres later, we crest a hill and see about 5 kilometres of traffic...not moving. We quickly dodged off on an exit, and went back to the back roads to get home. Our half hour drive ended up being an hour home. At least we managed to get to the pool for 45 minutes before we had to leave.

So, I managed to get to the Tour de France this time around. Short, but pretty cool and I am sure that I have now made my brother Mike jealous. =D


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