Saturday, 24 July 2010

Summing up the 2010 FFT Tour

I thought that I should write something before I forgot some of the tings that happened while we were at the FFT 2010 TDF trip.

It was only seven days but as the time goes on the day tend to blur into one another. I don’t think that it’s the company (although a quick tip, Le Foz is a creature of habit and would eat dinner at the same place every night if we let him… 3 is the record for this trip) its probably more like you get a little bit tireder every day. Normally the mornings are my thing – well at least I think that they are. I’m up around 5.12 on the bike by 5.25. In hindsight maybe I wake up as I roll down the hill – hmm not sure.

Anyway as the trip went on I found myself just that step slower than I normally am, sure I was sleeping less, sure I was eating more, sure I was burning on average 5000 calories a day, but at times it was like I was a little bit slow (yes I know some of you think that I am slow the whole time).

Today was my last day in France, Le Foz and I left the boys in the Holy City, packed up the vans and prepared to face the music with the Van company – diesel in the water tank – what the hell were they going to say about that, and a cracked rear light (more obvious response).

Because there were only 2 of us to drop the vans off, a little more planning was required. No problem we were on our way this morning, making pretty good time, then I came to a toll both.

Now for those for you that have seen toll booths in Europe – you know you drive up, put your ticket and and pay you’re money and away you go. Unfortunately for about 90% of drivers this concept is CRAZY, and they spend a lot of time putting their ticket in the card slot, putting their money on the ground, getting out of the car and groveling on hands and knees.. Now this is ok when you are on holiday, but we are on a schedule, so I spy a lane with nobody in it…. GOLD!

Little did I know what awaited me on the other side. I paid the 10 euros, and left the toll booth – Mike in the other van was stuck behind 10 of those “other” people I described so I was going to have to wait anyway.. So I’m fumbling with my money, look up and a Policeman is pointing off to the side of the road. I look at him and say me? I look left, I look right and he nods – you… Dude we are on a schedule to drop these Vans off, go to UPS, go to the Hotel, drop the other van off, ride back to Hotel and catch a plane… ummm can’t you pick on someone else?

Apparently not, I get on the two way and explain to Mike where I am and explain to the Policemand that I don’t speak French (well en pau). That’s good enough for him. He wants to know why 2 blokes have a van each, have about 1 million stamps in their passports, and are in a hurry. Isn’t everyone on the Autobahn (yes I know its German but I don’t know the French name) in a hurry?

After about 15 minutes, looking at every piece of paper in my briefcase, credit cards, looking through about 20 currencies – where is this money from etc we are on our way. I just kept saying to myself patience, don’t annoy this guy… soon enough we were on our way.

Finally we got all our jobs done 600 euros lighter the vans returned, flights made (until I got to Madrid where I am waiting for a plane – another story).

So back to the memories of the Tour:

1) Climbing Mt Ventoux – last time I arrived off the plane and had a huge wakeup call as to what a mountain really was. It nearly broke me. This time I was prepared, the right equiptment, diet and some ok training I really enjoyed this climb, and then the decent… fantastic. Dinner of only a salad wasn’t quite enough, but didn’t spoil the day.

2) Riding up 18% grades (yep that’s steep) to Mende Airport, with the bitumen running down the road and coating you’re tyres

3) Riding under the Mileau Bridge and along the Tarn river. Amazing day

4) Riding 80k of the tour course, part of it through an unbelievable cave, so big that the road climbs through it – and of course thinking that the 500m to go sign was the sprint line – killed it!

5) Sitting with Mitch at the top of the Col de Abisque, in a grass meadow on top of the world, enjoying the sights and sounds of the tour.

6) Finally climbing the Tourmalet – and meeting a guy who has been coming there every time the Tour comes there since 1952.

What a great experience… thanks to Le Foz for all the hard work and organization!

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