Last week I had the opportunity to see the Tour de France cyclists race by on their leg from Nîmes to Carcassonne. Since the race went by only 2 kilometers from my village, I invited a friend to come with me for this rare opportunity. We packed a lunch of baguette sandwiches with Serrano ham and tomatoes. Cucumber slices, potato chips, and fresh peaches rounded out the meal. Slathered with sunscreen and armed with an umbrella to shade us on the hot day, we walked the two kilometers to wait by the side of the road with other locals. My French neighbor suggested we bring chilled rosé to compliment the meal, but we made do with water.
The Tour’s estimated time of arrival in our area was at 3pm. Before then, around 1:30, a cavalcade of vehicles came through tossing out gifts of t-shirts, hats, pencils, and other merchandise to the waiting fans. I caught 4 pencils, a coupon for chicken cutlets, and a sample of dish soap. One of the pencils was from Domitys, a senior residence company. Were they target marketing !? The youngster near me beamed with his booty of four hats and two t-shirts.
One of the highlights of the day was a local clown who kept us entertained while we waited for both the cavalcade and the riders. He had me in stitches with his antics.
Maybe because I laughed so hard at his antics, the clown took a fancy to me and offered me a wildflower bouquet picked from the fields beside us. He waited for my response with a shy stance. When I curtseyed to thank him, he pirouetted and flapped his arms in ecstasy.
The moment we awaited arrived. The first three riders zoomed by. It was almost anti-climatic! The main group of cyclists, the peloton, followed them. They cycled so fast, in such a tight group, we could barely take them in. The strong wind they generated almost threw me off balance. We left after that – tired and sunburned, but happy to have witnessed such an iconic event firsthand.
What bicycling events have you done this summer? Do you follow cycling events? I don’t follow racing, but it was thrilling to see this event in person.
If you like to read about travel and bicycling, you can read about my life-changing around-the-world bicycle odyssey in my book.
Bicycle Odyssey An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery