Lunch is served
It doesn't get much better than this!
Geo: 43.0387, 0.591962
Although today's stage of Le Tour de France didn't start until 1:00, we decided to get on the road early. We wanted to get to Labroquere and find a good spot to watch the race by noon. We made good time and exited the A64 about 11:30. The town was only 5 km away, and we were optimistic when we didn't encounter heavy traffic on the road. That changed at a roundabout 2 km from town where we found traffic stopped.
One of the great advantages of taking a motorcycle to an event like this is that traffic congestion is not a major impediment, especially not in France. Not only do the drivers move over to let you pass, but driving on the shoulder, in bike lanes, or even crossing over the center line is tolerated. The real hazard is the potential of getting run over by other scooters or motorcycles who lane split with amazing speed and agility.
We made it through the traffic and the roundabout in less than a minute, We chose a small side road into town (thanks Google maps!) that paralleled the main road and which was closed farther ahead where the race would
cross it. We rolled right up to a nice little parking area already filled with a few mini-motorhomes about 50 feet from the course. It was 11:45 when we shed our riding gear and unpacked the bike. Our spot would also enable us to leave the race area easily after the riders had passed.
It was in the 70s with overcast skies, a welcome relief from the previous day's heat. Clouds gathered as we walked thru the village in search of coffee (without success). Along the way Janet made friends with two donkeys grazing in a yard. The church and surrounding village were very quaint, with many older structures in ruins. We walked to a stone bridge over the Garonne River near another vantage point where the course would leave the village.
We returned to our spot along a stone wall where we enjoyed a great picnic lunch of cheeses, a baguette, fruit, salami and a bottle of wine. It would be another three hours before the first bikes passed in front of us. An hour before the riders arrived, an endless parade of cars, vans, and custom floats promoting the sponsors' products and services paraded through the streets.
Cooling off the crowd
Cooling off the crowds
These vehicles threw samples, promotional items, and other “trash and trinkets” to the crowds. The children had fun getting as much of the free booty as possible.
This part of the event was like a marketing blitz combined with a circus coming to town. It was fun to watch, and we even scored a cap from the sponsoring bank.
When the first riders sped by around 3:30, the crowds went wild, clapping and cheering for all the riders. The motorcycles with cameramen hanging off the rear seats, dancing in and out of the riders, were just amazing to watch, as were the team support cars running bumper-to-bumper at high speed right behind the peloton. It was over way too fast, with the last rider passing about 10 minutes behind the leaders.
We were on the road 30 minutes later without any traffic to deal with, unlike all those who came by car or bus. We had a nice ride back thru St, Giron, and finally returned to Toulouse in time for dinner at a wonderful Argentinean restaurant just down the street - a great end to a great day. The Tour is really an amazing spectacle, one we really
enjoyed, and a great ending to our vacation.
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