July 15-16 July
July 25 a
July 25 b
Wednesday, July 21 – Stage 16
on leaving for l'Alpe d'Huez by 7:00 am, but we both woke up at 5:00. Maybe
we were dreading the
day/crowd. I was wide awake, but I'm way to smart to short change Angie on
her sleep, so I just laid quiet and still. About 5 minutes later Angie said,
"Are you awake? You want to go ahead and leave?" So we got up and left the
hotel by 6:00 am. It was a long slow drive down the Col de la Madeleine, up
the Col du Glandon, then back down the Glandon. There was some incredible
scenery with the morning sun raking across the mountains and the road was
fairly empty. What other fools would be headed over this early?
to the bottom of l'Alpe d'Huez where the Gerdarmes had closed the roads
already and pulled out our Co-Motion Speedster tandem. It wasn't much of a
speedster this morning, as the roads were so packed with people that we
eventually had to get off and walk the bike. It was just too crowded. They
had barricades al through the town so we continued to walk until we were at
the base of the climb. We got on and started riding again, but it wasn't
long before we had to get off and walk again because of the people.
found our spot for the day at the 21st switchback. We picked this spot for a
couple of reasons. First, Lance's name is on the sign from his 2001 victory
and also, the further up the climb we went, the more people there were. I'm
talking about a constant slow flow of people doing the death march up the
mountain. People, People everywhere and not a place to sit. Can you tell
we're having fun yet? We hadn't been at our place long until some people we
had planned to meet showed up. Darryl and Joe from Austin and another couple
from Birmingham, Brian and Sara. I've emailed Darryl back and forth for
several years and we finally meet in a mass of confusion in France. Brian
and Sara had met with us a couple of times in Birmingham to get some ideas
of what to expect, since we had been at the Tour before. Not sure we
adequately prepared them for this.
spot seemed to be in a good location. The riders would hit the first
switchback right in front of us, and we were close to the shade, depending
on how the sun wrapped around the mountain.
Unbelievably, I spotted a Chechu Fan Club shirt and sent Jerry after him.
Jerry followed him down the mountain until he met the rest of the group. He
came back to get me and then we went back to see our friends Carolina,
Chechu Rubiera's sister and Raul. Raul and Jerry had emailed and planned on
meeting here. Carolina was so happy to see us.
hugged and kissed us and introduced us to her husband and all the rest of
Chechu's fan club group. Benjamin Noval's girlfriend was with them as well.
She said that Chechu and Benjamin were close friends. We gave them
LiveStrong Shirts, hats and Yellow Wristbands. Carolina was wearing a bikini
top with Go Postal written on her chest. She and Raul invited us to come
visit them in Spain and we told them we would after Lance stops riding the
Tour. They seemed to think that was too long to wait, so we invited them to
come to the States. They are so friendly and I hear Spain is beautiful. This
is definitely on our list of things to do. We said goodbye and headed back
to our spot. Unfortunately, the shade was now gone and Lance wasn't
scheduled to pass us for almost 5 hours. It was unbelievably hot, so much
that the crowd would cheer every time a cloud blocked the sun.
a group of Swiss fans near us that liked to sing about the CSC team and some
other Swiss songs. And sing they did, all day! Problem was, they couldn't
carry a hint of a tune, combined with their drinking, it wasn't a pretty
sound, or site either when a few stripped to their speedo's and ran with
some of the riders. And more people kept coming up the mountain.
people that walked up after we had been camped out for several hours thought
they were going to get in front of us, so we kept moving closer in the road,
until there was barely one lane for the team cars to pass through as they
would follow the riders. Finally the riders did appear. Jerry shot pictures
as they came around the corner in front of us. Most of the Postal riders
were towards the end and of course Lance was last. He passed us so quickly,
he was barely a flash. The road would literally open up just enough for the
rider to get through, then close back up behind them. Mix in some flag
wavers, runners, sign wavers, screamers and a few mad Germans around us you
have a recipe for disaster. I can't believe everybody made it up the
Everyone started packing up and walking down the mountain as soon as Lance
passed. We didn't even try to get on the bike. As we maneuvered our bike
through the town and around barricades, we heard a big cheer from a group,
but we couldn't tell what had happened. We were told a few minutes later
that Lance had won the stage! I can't wait to get home and see it on Tivo.
walking the bike through the crowd for about 7K we were able to ride the
last 4K to the car. We had arrived early enough to park near a campground,
so we used their facilities, got some snacks and drinks and headed back to
our hotel. Two nights in the same hotel is such a treat!
back over the Glandon, again, and marveled at how the riders would be
descending this narrow road tomorrow. The descent is so steep and curvy, and
even though there is a dotted line in the middle of the pavement, it's not
as wide as our driveway. No need for guardrails either. Guess they'd just
slow someone down if they missed a turn. Very scary!
it back to the Col de la Madeleine in pretty good time and were able to
shower/bath, what ever you call the tiny tubs with the spray nozzles,
before dinner. The food was fantastic in our hotel restaurant. A great salad
and yummy omelet. We were clean, fed and at our hotel before 10 pm - a Tour
de France record!