Sunday, July 24, 2011

And It All Came To an End

Well, this was it folks, the last day of le Tour and it did not disappoint. I got up earlier than I really needed to, but in my older years, I’m not one for sleeping in, just napping. So, I went down to breakfast a little before 9:00 and then came back up to the room to check emails and what not. A bit later I went down to find Rob and Joy and Bernie and Catherine eating breakfast. Upon talking with them, I made plans to peruse the streets of Paris with Bernie and Catherine before meeting up with Nathalie who would lead us to our viewing spot in the Grand Stands.

So, at 10:45, I met up with Bernie and Catherine and we walked the Champs Elysees and checked out the le Tour booths one more time. I ended up getting a baseball cap this time. I had seen one on Alpe D’Huez that I liked and didn’t get it and had decided I wanted it but still didn’t find it today. I instead found one that I liked just as well. Bernie and Catherine surprised me by buying me a polka dot shirt too. I guess they were tired of me whining about not getting one. It was a very nice gesture and I am really appreciative of their generosity. I look forward to wearing it when I get home and will always remember them when I wear it.

At 12:30, we met up with Nathalie and around 1:00 we walked to the Grand Stands. We walked for what seemed like an eternity. I have not walked as much as I have this trip in I don’t know how long and I will be promptly making an appointment with Dr. Behmer when I get back in town because my foot will soon be the size of a watermelon - it’s pretty close right now. Our gift at the Grand Stands was a le Tour mug which was quite nice. We thought there was going to be food but there were only drinks and so I left in search of us some sandwiches. I finally found the stand and came back with sandwiches for us to eat so that we wouldn’t start rummaging through people’s bags for food.

At about 4:00, or perhaps a little after, the riders came through on their first lap on the Champs. They ride eight laps around and it is quite wonderful to see them pass through each time. The last day is a day for the sprinters and it is always an exciting finish. My man Cav did not disappoint and won the stage for the second year in a row and to top it off, he won the sprinter’s green jersey for the first time in his career. It was awesome.

After the award ceremonies, the riders come through in a parade and it’s a good time to get photos. I got a few but am hoping to get Bernie’s and Rob’s because they were both smart and brought their SLR cameras and have been getting some really great shots.

After the parade, we walked and walked and walked some more to the dinner cruise and finally found the boat. The cruise was actually quite nice as it is nice to see Paris all lit up at night, particularly the Eiffel Tower. The food was just mediocre in my opinion but Nathalie said it was a lot better than last year.

After the cruise, Bernie, Catherine and I got a cab back to the hotel because we were all tired of walking. The cab ride was awesome as we drove around the Arc de Triumphe which is an every man for himself type of situation and it was thrilling. I told Bernie and Catherine that I might have to take a taxi in and out of traffic around the Arc before I leave. I think it would be hilarious and fun!

Now I am back at the hotel icing my foot and hoping at least some of the swelling goes down before the morning. My dad arrives at 8:10 a.m. and I have arranged for the airport shuttle to pick me up to go and meet him. Then we’ve got to get the shuttle back. The receptionist at the hotel is supposed to help me with all of that in the morning. I’ve also got to drop off some laundry in the morning as I am running out of pants and I don’t want to go around in my undies.

So, the 2011 Le Tour is history and it was absolutely an amazing experience. I am so very glad I made this trip and maybe in a few years can come again. I want to give a shout out to Tony who taught me all about cycling and what a great and fantastic sport it is. It’s because of him that I fell in love with the sport and am now here in France; so, thanks buddy!

*No photos today. I prefer sleep over uploading them. Sorry, but love you all!


Tony said...

Thanks for the shout out. Glad to hear you've had a great time. Your luck was good in that the last week of this year's Tour was action packed and full of some really great racing. I'm sure your boy Andy will win in the next year or so. Thanks for all of the posts and pictures so that we were all able to live vicariously through you!

Erika said...

So glad you had a great trip!

You and your dad will have a wonderful time, too, I am sure.

Thanks for keeping all of us back home updated on your adventures.

J. said...

Seems like you had blast. I saw the end of the race on ESPN today and I was like "NATASHA'S THERE" but they didn't catch you in the background on any highlights. See you when you get back to work.

george christensen said...

Hope you can make it back to The Tour again next year. I will keep my eye out for you. By the way, it was Cav's third straight win on the Champs, more than anyone. The couple others who have won it twice didn't even do it consecutively. He is truly in a class of his own.