48 Hours In Paris – Part II

Posted: August 29, 2010 in Bike Stories

First, Please Read 48 Hours In Paris – Part I

After we checked in to the hotel, I had forgotten that we took off for Sacré-Coeur and did a loop through Monmartre and wound up at a bar next to the Moulin Rouge to watch the final time trial in St Ettiene.  Lance sealed yellow and all that was left was the parade into Paris and the seriously fast loops on the cobbles.

Everyone knew that 2005 would be Lance’s last tour.  (ok, we were proven wrong this year)  The buzz was tremendous.  We all got up extra early to get a great spot along the fence on the Champs Elysées.

Seriously, we were there at 9 am grabbing our spot and the race did not come through until around 4 pm.  It was spitting rain on and off all day, but the temperature was a very nice 65 degrees or so.  Between peeks at the jumbotron and my rudimentary French, we were able to keep track of the race.

Mike was very determined to buy a Tour jersey from one of the official vendors.  I agreed to save our spot, along with a couple from work who joined us. Angela and David went with him for moral support.

Mike stood in line for about an hour only to realize that he hadn’t set up his new credit card and it would not work.  He decides to go back to the hotel safe and retrieve another card, then the same crew goes back to stand in the hour line again.

In total, I was at the fence for about 4 hours, while this exercise took place, holding our spot.  Several times I had to shew off squatters with nasty stares and/or poor French.  An older French man came up and offered me 40 Euros to allow his son in front of me.  I shook my head and gave an emphatic, “no.”  I was holding the spot so that all of my buddies could watch Lance’s last race.  He and his son fell in behind me.

With about an hour until the race entered the city, a shorter woman, about 5 people deep in the milieu, asked to get in front of me so that she could see.  Again, remembering my three friends, I said no.

By this time the anticipation was tremendous. The entire city was vibrating.  The announcer was speaking so fast now, I could no longer understand what he was saying and I couldn’t see the jumbotron for the crowd.  I rang my teenage son in North Carolina to ask him what was happening.

Just as the race was entering the city, Mike, Dave and Angela returned and joined me along the fence.  They weren’t there 2 minutes, when the older French man asked Mike if his son could stand in front of him and Mike said, “sure.”  I was there for hours holding these spots so that Mike could get his jersey and he gave up the prime spot in 2 minutes.  I couldn’t believe it, especially as I had to watch the race peering partially from behind a tree.

This was temporarily forgotten as the rush of the race whirled up and down the Avenue.  Michael Rasmussen was wearing the polka dot jersey as best climber and started the day with a gilet (vest) with his race numbers on it.  He stuffed this in his jersey pocket and it happened to fall out at about 55 mph right in front of me.  The cars swirled it so very close, I could almost, but not quite, reach it on the street.  A gendarme noticed the interest in the gilet, picked it up and handed it to a smiling French woman.  Yeah, she was hot, I had no chance.

The pace of the finish is difficult to describe. These guys raced around Paris for three weeks and can still do this.  Wow.  The race announcer was at mach 5 as they crossed the finish line.  I couldn’t tell who the heck won and, again, had to call home for the scoop.  It turns out that Vinokourov took out the win and pipped Levi Leipheimer for 5th by a second.  Levi was pissed during the parade lap.

This incredible experienced was capped by seeing Lance and team wave to the crowd as they took their parade lap.

But, seriously, he gave up the very spot I was saving for hours to the same dad and kid that I had previously turned down.  I may never get over this.  It’s the Tour Baby.

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Comments
  1. Scott Coady says:

    Nice job on the play by-play of being a fan at the Tour. You did a great thing holding your friends spot and letting others watch too! Sen mentor address an I will send you something cool.

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