I realised this morning that I am watching my 10th Tour. How time flies. There are a couple of riders taking part in their 16th and 17th Tours, I’m sure they feel the same. I’ve now gotten into something of a routine. I study the route, make my plans and book my hotels before the preceeding year is out.
As I’ll be watching a large part of the first week live, the flat is looking spick and span and the freezer is groaning with pre-prepared (by me) meals. I’ve already worked my way through a rather large “to do” list with some success, aided by my beloved’s absences. I have all my “Tour Guides” to hand, plus the essential list of participants with photos. While I’m at home, all three televisions will be tuned to The Tour, albeit different channels, so as not to miss a moment. Though with France television’s dawn to dusk coverage, this is kind of dangerous! I also have my list of tasks to be completed while viewing otherwise it’s all too easy to turn into a couch potato.
Around 47% of viewers watch the Tour just to see the French countryside and there’s a part of me that understands why because I keep a notebook in which I list all the places I’d like to visit after having seen them showcased during the Grand Boucle. It could well end up as a bucket list.
Of course, this year the Tour is coming to me and is literally passing our front door, or at least the driveway to the Domaine. I will however be down at the Hippodrome to see the boys head off to Marseille before speeding there myself to catch their arrival. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, Nice has laid on all manner of Tour related goodies to keep everyone entertained until Tuesday’s team time-trial.
Yesterday, the amateurs – singly or as part of a team – got a chance to ride the 25km time-trial course, to the acclaim of a substantial number of spectators lining the route. My beloved took part with three of his mates, much enjoyed the experience and finished in the top half. I meanwhile was manning a friends’ clothing stand in the entrance of Casino Ruhl, next to McDonald’s which afforded me a splendid view of the starting and finishing circuit.
I’d like to report that business on the stand was brisk, but it wasn’t. Although much interest was shown in the 100th centenary range produced by G4 for this year’s Tour, as worn by Eurosport’s commentators and journalists. Instead we seemed to function as an outpost of the local tourist office answering all manner of queries in a variety of languages, none of them French. It soon became evident that many visitors had no idea that their stay clashed with one of the year’s sporting highlights and I was dishing out advice left, right and centre as to where to best watch Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s stages.
In order to encourage visitors to the stand, I had prepared a number of my well-known baked goodies for the participants to enjoy after their exertions. They certainly brought traffic to the stand but sadly no additional sales. It did however give me the opportunity to trial a few new recipes which will be shortly appearing over on VeloVoices in The Musette.