A Cycling & bikes forum. CycleBanter.com

Go Back   Home » CycleBanter.com forum » rec.bicycles » Rides
Site Map Home Register Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

My trip to Le Tour de France 2003



 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old July 29th 03, 08:50 PM
amh
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default My trip to Le Tour de France 2003

My trip to the Tour de France, 2003.

For all you folks who didn't get to go see it in person. Please live
vicariously through my report. Note that my gf and I didn't do any
cycling so this is a report about other people cycling.

enjoy, (I hope)
Andy

I really have to start by saying if you can make the trip to France to
see the tour live DO IT!

My gf and I started in Paris on July 4th, 2003. Since she works for a
magazine publisher we were able to snag 2 press passes for the stages
we would be around for. She rocks!

Team presentation in Paris 7-4-03. The day we arrived in Paris we had
to run around for the press passes and were able to make it back to
the Hotel d’Ville in time for the team presentation. Each team
rolled out onto the stage and the riders were introduced one by one,
along with the director sportif. The presenter listed each
rider’s accomplishments in various tours and races. After a bit
I worked up the courage to join the other photographers in the mad
scramble to take pictures as the teams rolled in and got a few cool
team shots. The Devil made an appearance in the audience, stealing
some attention from whichever team was being presented. There were a
few musical breaks with the large video screen showing the teams
riding through Paris. At long last we got up to the US postal team. It
must have been around 9:30 by things ended but to us it felt more like
the early am hours.

Proglogue 7-5-03: 12 hours of sleep will cure jet lag! I was awake
around noon and we headed out to the History of the Tour exhibit at
the Hotel d’ville. This excellent exhibit displayed photos of
some of the famous tour stories from 1903 to the present. There was a
very interesting display of a 1950’s tour bike next to a 2003
tour bike along with clothing and other accessories. After seeing the
exhibit we went to the Eiffel Tower to check out the start village.
There were a few riders at the sponsor booths but there really
wasn’t much to see. The big riders probably arrived well after
we were on the course. We then found a spot about 1k from the finish
and I snapped a few photos. Next we headed to the finish area and got
a good spot a bit beyond the finish line where the riders were giving
post race interviews. I was in awe of the bikes and the riders just
milling about amongst the reporters. I wanted to be on the course for
the last riders and got a spot again 1k from the finish. We were right
at the spot where David Miller had to fiddle with his chain. But I had
my camera on zoom and didn’t get a shot, damn! Virenque went
past to thunderous cheers as did Ulrich. Armstrong, in yellow, also
got strong cheers. The jersey ceremony was a zoo so I didn’t
anywhere near the podium for a shot of McGee in yellow.

Stage 1 7-6-03: We went to the Place de le Republic to watch the
parade ride through the streets of Paris. The publicity caravan was
through before we got there but we did see the group of youth riders
that went through before the tour. A bunch of tour vehicles came
through and then the peloton. McGee in yellow was at the head and it
was over about 30 seconds after the riders arrived. The team busses
followed and that was it. Since I had never been to France before we
spent the rest of the day touring Paris.

Stage 3 7-8-03: After visiting with friends outside Troyes we sped up
to St. Dizier just in time to catch the tour arriving at the finish.
By the time I got to the finish riders were already filtering through
to the team busses. I did manage to get a Kelme water bottle from a
rider as a souvenir and a few up close photos. The riders
weren’t all that interested in making nice with the public,
sweaty and tired as they were. My gf had made it to the finish area
just before the riders did and was too confused to do much more than
watch the jersey ceremony. We went to the press room and got the
results pages as well as the “film de etape” a narrative
of the day’s events. The tv’s were showing the post stage
interviews as reporters were typing furiously on their computers.
There was a quiet buzz about the room, even the sound of some guy
plucking on a typewriter! I didn’t see Phil Ligget but I did
spot the photographer with the giant bicycle mustache, so big it has
clips to hold it in place. We also picked up the media decal for our
rental car. Before we left we toured an exhibit at the local history
museum documenting some local cycling history. Turns out the St.
Dizier area had the first bicycle ice cream vendors, the company that
became Miko, a tour sponsor in the days of Merckx. An early pioneer in
steel frames, pedals and chains also did his bicycle tinkering near
by. And finally a local daredevil set a few speed records while being
paced behind a motor car. He went some 60 mph riding a bike with a 75
tooth chain ring.

Stage 4 the Team Time Trial 7-9-03. While driving back from St. Dizier
we drove the last 10 miles of the TTT route. There were at least 20
villages of mobile homes strung out along the side of the road. We
drove to the route and parked the car in a good spot a little past the
half way point. There were only a smattering of spectators around us
but down the road was a mobile home village. While walking around we
saw that we had parked about a quarter mile from the famed tour Devil.
I snapped a photo of him and my gf. US postal went by on their test
run as did Team Telekom (I think). We had a few hours to kill before
the publicity caravan arrived and met a couple from around Metz and
chatted with them for a while. Claude was an expert in getting the
publicity caravan to throw stuff at us. It is amazing what adults will
scramble on the ground for. But I did get a credit lyoneese yellow
bag! At long last the teams started to come by. We had the start list
so we knew who were coming when. I marked off which teams I wanted to
photograph and which teams I wanted to video. We could see the group
of spectators ahead of us cheering just before the motorbike came
through followed by the team. The disk wheels whooshed by with most of
the riders on their aerobars. Without the crowds I had an unobstructed
view and went a bit snap happy with the camera. The video of the US
Postal team came out great. Once the last tour vehicle went past the
road was just an ordinary road again. We said our good byes to our
neighbors we had shared the past 4 or so hours with and went back to
Troyes for dinner.

Stage 5 7-10-03: We packed up at the hostel we were staying in to
catch the start of the 5th stage in Troyes. We found our color coded
parking area and proceeded to the start village. I wandered around the
sign in area and watched the caravan head off on to the route while my
gf got an interview with a tour sponsor. I was amazed by that 5 days
of driving around France didn’t take the smiles off the pretty
girls on the cars, they still had three quarters of the race to go. I
found a spot in front of the sign in booth. Bernard Hinault and
Stephen Roche presented the most aggressive rider with his award. A
BMX rider did some tricks for us before the riders signed in. Some
riders just walked right up the stairs while others, notably Tyler
Hamilton, were less sprite. US postal was presented with the team
award and Victor Pena, as the race leader, was awarded his weight in
champagne. Meanwhile my gf was having a field day schmoozing with
riders by the team busses and got a few autographs. Without much more
fanfare the stage started and we were left in Troyes. On our way out
we snagged one of the route arrows as a souvenir as we headed off to
the Alps.

Stage 7 7-12-03: Our host in Chamonix advised us to try driving the
Col de Joux Plan to get to Morzine. We found our way and were climbing
up into the Alps. I was amazed the tour actually used this road, it
seemed like a back yard drive rather than a potential race road. We
knew we were on the right road when we saw rider’s names painted
on the roadway. There was the ever present Virenque but the Patrice
Halgand fan club was certainly busy the last time the tour crossed
Joux Plan. We arrived in Morzine and found a place to park and walked
along the race course towards the finish just as the caravan was
rolling through. We found the press tent next the finish and watched
the tour coverage. Richard Virenque was making his break up the final
Cat 1 climb and the crowd erupted with every Virenque update. Also in
the tent was the Columbian broadcaster doing the play by play over a
phone. I didn’t understand a word of his broadcast (despite 3
years of high school Spanish) but he was the most excited of any other
broadcaster. I went outside to get a good spot for the finish. The
last kilometer was set up in sort of a giant curl and from the roaring
it was easy to figure out that Virenque was getting closer. As it
turned out my spot sucked and all I could see was the scrum of
reporters surrounding Virenque as he made his way through the finish
area. The next group came in and I was able to get photos of most of
the big names as they were being interviewed. I tried to make it to
the jersey presentation but it was over and done with before I could
figure out how to get there. It took quite a hike to get to the press
room and once we were there we had our digital pictures transferred to
a cd and dropped off some photos for printing. We picked up our
results sheets and watched a few interviews before heading off to a
press buffet of local foods.

Stage 8 7-13-03: The big day and our last with the tour. I debated how
we should spend the day. I kind of wanted to drive the route ahead of
the riders. But we had a great time at the prior village de depart. We
decided do the start and high tail it to Alpe d’huez for the
finish. I wandered to the caravan staging area while my gf wandered
the ville de depart. Telekom (I think) was giving out free phone calls
so she decided to call home forgetting that we were 6 hours ahead and
hadn’t gotten out of the single digit hours in the morning. But
we had just gotten engaged so I guess she could be forgiven. I, being
the kind son I am, sent my mom an e-mail rather than wake her up. I
skipped the rider sign in and wandered around the team busses. I had
gotten a cache that the local post office had stamped with a special
postmark and my now fiancée found Lance and got his autograph on the
envelope. She was also able to get Richard Virenque’s autograph
on the day’s edition of L’equipe. We were able to wander
around the start area and it wasn’t long before riders started
to file in. There we are standing at the start area just before the
start. If I had had a bike I could have ridden away with the tour,
well the first few kilometers. After the depart we ran to our car and
took off for Alpe d’huez. On the road we passed a few tour
vehicles so we knew we weren’t too late for the finish. Just
before getting to Grenoble we passed the US Postal bus. All was clear
until we got on to the road heading to the alpe. Traffic backed up a
bit but moved. We were behind a France 2 car and followed it when the
driver drove along the empty oncoming traffic lane. At an intersection
non tour traffic was diverted away. Our car with our media sticker was
waved through and soon we were on the road with thousands cyclists
and fans walking. The tour was just starting to climb Telegraph when
we arrived at the base of the climb up to alpe d’huez. Man this
place is insane. There isn’t one inch of the road that
isn’t crawling with cycling fans. There are cyclists riding up,
fans painting the road and mass hysteria. At one point the fans were
all wearing orange announcing we had entered the “Dutch”
zone. Rabbobank banners were all over. As we slowed to a crawl fans
started dousing the car with water bottles before I could close my
window. With each hairpin turn the view changed and at 5k to go
barriers kept the road clear of fans. We were turned off before the
finish and made ourselves a parking spot. At the press room we watched
the final kilometers of the climb up the col du Galibier. I then went
outside to find a spot on the course. On my walk down I saw the
publicity caravan making its way through the final hairpins. I worked
my way into the crowd just before the 4 kilometer to go sign and
waited. First a few helicopters flew by then one hovered above the
valley and we knew the riders weren’t far off. A few cars
trickled by and then the turns below us erupted into cheering. I could
see the road about 1km away and check for riders. Everybody stood up
and got their cameras out and finally Iban Mayo rode past. A minute or
so later Vinokurev glided by. Armstrong and company was next to rider
by and I was shooting a video as they rode past. The cheers continued
as the long wait for Virenque, in the yellow jersey, to arrive. Soon
after I vacated my spot and began to walk up to the summit. The first
large group came by and I snapped a few shots and not long after that
another group arrived. All the time fans cheered wildly even if a lone
rider passed through. I finally made it back to the finish area just
in time to see Iban Mayo doing his victory cruise. The last rider to
finish looked totally drained. My gf and I headed back to the press
room to collect photos, transfer more photos to disk and pick up the
results. We found the buffet and chowed down on chicken and cous-cous.
One last tour of the press room and we were back outside loading the
car. On the way down the mountain we encountered pretty heavy traffic.
While we waited a gendarme chatted with us and said the crowd was
almost 500,000 fans large. Once we moved again another gendarme
signaled us on to a side road for an alternate route down. As much as
I hate sitting in traffic I think I would have rather sat and fumed
than drive this road. It was a one lane affair that made me feel as
though I was in an airplane. The road makers had thoughtfully not put
a guard rail up so we had an unobstructed view of the valley way
below. I was driving and also the one overlooking this drop. We went
through one small village and I think we came through someone’s
back yard. Now the road curved down the mountain in wooded terrain
much to my relief. On our way back to Chamonix we went through
Albertville and just as we arrived the Bastille Day fireworks were
being shot off. A fitting end to our last day with the tour.
Ads
  #2  
Old July 30th 03, 12:45 AM
Terry Morse
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default My trip to Le Tour de France 2003

amh wrote about getting down Alpe d'Huez:

On the way down the mountain we encountered pretty heavy traffic.
While we waited a gendarme chatted with us and said the crowd was
almost 500,000 fans large. Once we moved again another gendarme
signaled us on to a side road for an alternate route down. As much as
I hate sitting in traffic I think I would have rather sat and fumed
than drive this road. It was a one lane affair that made me feel as
though I was in an airplane. The road makers had thoughtfully not put
a guard rail up so we had an unobstructed view of the valley way
below. I was driving and also the one overlooking this drop.



That's a very cool cycling road, leading down to the village of
Allemont. They were only letting bicycles and official cars (no
trucks) down the road. Our group rode down that way and had a nice,
scenic cruise back to Allemont. Here's what it looked like after the
stage:

http://www.terrymorse.com/terry/temp/P7130101.jpg

A nice descent with several switchbacks. A little harrowing for a
car, but excellent on a bike.
--
terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/
  #3  
Old July 30th 03, 01:28 AM
Layne Wallace
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default My trip to Le Tour de France 2003

On 29 Jul 2003 12:50:54 -0700, amh wrote:

My trip to the Tour de France, 2003.

Jealousy (mine) rears its ugly head.

Layne

-------------------------------------------------------
The rec.running report archives may be found at http://kinder.cis.unf.edu/rec.running


  #4  
Old July 30th 03, 05:49 PM
amh
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default My trip to Le Tour de France 2003

Terry Morse wrote in message ...
amh wrote about getting down Alpe d'Huez:

On the way down the mountain we encountered pretty heavy traffic.
While we waited a gendarme chatted with us and said the crowd was
almost 500,000 fans large. Once we moved again another gendarme
signaled us on to a side road for an alternate route down. As much as
I hate sitting in traffic I think I would have rather sat and fumed
than drive this road. It was a one lane affair that made me feel as
though I was in an airplane. The road makers had thoughtfully not put
a guard rail up so we had an unobstructed view of the valley way
below. I was driving and also the one overlooking this drop.



That's a very cool cycling road, leading down to the village of
Allemont. They were only letting bicycles and official cars (no
trucks) down the road. Our group rode down that way and had a nice,
scenic cruise back to Allemont. Here's what it looked like after the
stage:

http://www.terrymorse.com/terry/temp/P7130101.jpg

A nice descent with several switchbacks. A little harrowing for a
car, but excellent on a bike.


A little harrowing is putting it mildly. Add to that the sun glare
every time I went around a right turn! That was an amazing day! The
scale of the race first hand is so much larger than it is on TV.

Thanks for the pic. If you want to trade any let me know. We came home
with 400+ pictures including a few videos.

Andy
  #5  
Old July 31st 03, 03:17 AM
Raptor
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default My trip to Le Tour de France 2003

amh wrote:
My trip to the Tour de France, 2003.

For all you folks who didn't get to go see it in person. Please live
vicariously through my report. Note that my gf and I didn't do any
cycling so this is a report about other people cycling.

enjoy, (I hope)
Andy


Did, very much. What's the chance of seeing some of your really
cool-sounding pics or videos?

--
--
Lynn Wallace http://www.xmission.com/~lawall
"I'm not proud. We really haven't done everything we could to protect
our customers. Our products just aren't engineered for security."
--Microsoft VP in charge of Windows OS Development, Brian Valentine.

 




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
LANCE ARMSTRONG'S BID FOR COVETED SIXTH TOUR DE FRANCE FOILED Richard Longwood Racing 6 June 28th 04 03:06 AM
Armstrong To Race Tour of Georgia Time Cop Racing 8 January 30th 04 08:01 PM
2003 Tour de France and Marmotte Event rstandring Racing 0 September 11th 03 10:38 PM
The Graciousness Of A Champion hold my beer and watch this... Racing 41 September 4th 03 08:14 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 02:26 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004-2018 CycleBanter.com.
The comments are property of their posters.