Monday, August 10, 2009

July's Epic Travel - Le Tour - Part Five

Where were we? Stage 17, I think?

Bourg-St-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand. We had to drop Kelly off at the train station to go back to Geneva before Erin, Jonathan, and myself went to the slopes of the Col du la Colombiere. Things were going well until Kelly found out that train service wasn't as frequent as we thought, and the bus got her there as the flight was going wheels up.

Damn it.

Despite that blunder (sorry Kelly - we really felt pretty bad all day) the three of us rolled on to the race (what else can you do?). No real trouble driving up - just an eight euro nougat bar... and a cop that wouldn't let us go up the mountain. We thought we were early enough to drive most of the way up the mountain. A cop told us otherwise. Then Erin tried to object. Then he got all whistely (one with the whistle and the gesticulation). So we just parked and walked. Trouble is, we were some 15k from the summit.

So, we adjusted plans, like all good explorers, and after forging rain, town, and lunch, set up shop on the descent into Le Grand-Bornand. It wasn't the climb, or the top, but it was still cool. I mean, the rain had passed (no more eating in some unfinished garage), the people were cool, there was a great backdrop (the Alps), and we had three bottles of (amazingly) cheap French wine. We made it reasonably far up the slope (to the 5km banner). It was far enough.

Not Roubaix.

So we consumed our bread, meats, cheeses, and wines, and watched the mountains. It was good way to wait for the publicity caravan, which showed up, and provided us with copious amounts of cheap kitschy crap ranging from pens to hats to salami. Some came home. Some didn't.

While we were waiting for the race, I had a nice "chat" with this gentleman.

I say "chat" because I don't speak French, and he doesn't speak English. I roughed through asking him if I could take a picture of him and his bell, then asked how to describe his bell in French (forgot within 60 seconds; thanks linguistic brain). He told me this and (I'm sure) more. A few minutes later, he came over, and was explaining (we think) how the cows wear them because there are no fences and at night you can't see cows, but you can hear them. I'd believe it. That bell was the size of a good size pumpkin. And not an Australian pumpkin (butternut squash).

Then a bit later, the race came through. I won't try to narrate it. We're talking about a race that happened weeks ago. VeloNews can fill you in if you've been living in a cave.

Enjoy the pictures.

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