Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Exciting At The Finish

Once we finally arrived in Italy, we checked in to our rooms and immediately went downstairs for dinner. The dinner was very good and very filling. After we ate, I was able to get online and put up yesterday’s post and also respond to a few emails. By the time I was finished, it was midnight and I was more than ready for bed.

This morning, I got up and showered early so that I could leave all of my dirty clothes in the hall for the maid to wash. That’s a big advantage to staying in the same hotel two nights in a row. I then went down to breakfast and ate just a little bit. For some reason my stomach is still not feeling quite right. Each morning I feel a little sick to my stomach and so I keep some crackers close by to munch on when I first get up. I also woke up with major sinus drainage; I’m assuming this is due to the mountain air. I’m sure this is more information than you bargained for today, but I’m just trying to give everyone the details.

I spent the rest of the morning checking emails and bank accounts and also reading up on all the cycling news and other things such as this. I also didn’t want to walk around too much this morning because my left foot and ankle are swollen. This is the same foot on which I had surgery late last year and the top of it has been bothering me for a few weeks. So, this morning due to all the walking yesterday it is swollen and so I have slathered it with Bio Freeze and am hoping it will hold up okay today. Leave it to me to come to France and have all sorts of problems.

I am now continuing this post after returning to the hotel. For starters, my foot held up okay. It isn’t painful just swollen. I am going to try and get a bag of ice from the reception desk and ice it down this evening. Now, on to more important things like the days’ activities.

We left the hotel at noon today and went to eat at a restaurant in Pinerolo. I had a salad and pasta that was very delicious – it is Italy after all! After lunch, our guide walked us to the VIP area from which we would be viewing the stage. Today we were between 200 and 150 meters from the finish line. I have emailed Tony and given him instruction as to where to look for me on TV. I, unfortunately didn’t record today’s stage and Tony is the only one of my readers who probably watches le Tour; so, I will leave it up to him to tell me if he spots me on TV or not.

We stopped off at a le Tour de France stand to buy some souvenirs before heading into the VIP area. I bought more than I should have but have no regrets at all. J’aime le Tour! So, Natalie, out guide, took our bags with her and put them in the van for us since she wasn’t going into the VIP area. She instead just read a book or something on the park bench. She’s not really into le Tour and that’s okay. Different strokes, ya know? Our bracelets also had computer chips in them so that there could be no fakes.

When we got to the VIP area, there were free drinks and snacks and some of the caravan was coming through throwing out things. After about an hour, the big part of the caravan came through and this is the swag I got today: Candies (Haribo and Smurfs), Yellow LCL hat (you will see folks wearing these at the finish line every day), White Skoda hat (another finish line accessory), BIC pens and highlighters, French newspaper, one of those blow up things that you beat together to make noise, and pom-poms. Both of the pom poms came from French TV and both times I yelled out “Oy!” to the person handing them out and they came over and gave us some. Apparently yelling “Oy!” works. Guess it is a universal word or something.

There was a big screen to watch the stage and so we knew when the riders were getting close. With about 7 kilometers to go, I stood along the road because I wanted to make sure I had a good spot. I had spoken with Bernie beforehand about getting some photos from him. Since I didn’t bring my big camera, I knew I couldn’t take high speed photos. Bernie has the same camera I do and so I asked him if I could just cheer and get photos from him later. He agreed.

When the riders came close, it was super exciting. Edvald Bossan-Hagan won the stage today and he was ahead of all the other riders. Then when the groups starting coming in it got so confusing because they go so stinkin’ fast that you can hardly catch a glimpse of who is in what group. For example, I totally didn’t even see Little Tommy Voeckler go by in the malliot jaune! I’m embarrassed to say that, but it’s the truth. I think I was paying attention to someone else in his group. I did manage to scream out “Andy” when Andy Schleck went by and of course let out a big yell for my man Mark Cavendish!

After the stage was over, we had a glass of champagne to celebrate and then it was to the bus but first we stopped off for a scoop or sorbet or gelato. I had the strawberry sorbet – it was quite refreshing after being out in the sun all afternoon. Here the hottest time of the day is between 2:00 and 6:00 or so due to the fact that the sun doesn’t set until after 10:00.

We made it back to the van and managed the crazy post-tour streets of Pinerolo back to the hotel where when we pulled in we discovered that two teams (Omega Pharma Lotto and Movistar) are staying at our hotel. We were outside enjoying a drink (Orange juice for me – for real, ya’ll!) and Bernie had been up to our floor and said that there were riders walking around in towels. Apparently they were going from their own room to the massage room. I knew I wanted to get a glimpse of this but alas when I got upstairs, there were no naked men. Ah, C’est la vie.

Movistar Buses

View from my window - Omega Pharma Lotto

My laundry had returned and I started panicking because I thought my pants and a shirt and pair of shorts were MIA so I went down to reception to ask about it and the gal came upstairs with me. This is the same girl who helped me with the internet last night. She speaks great English and is very nice and helpful. Turns out my missing clothes were hanging in the closet. Yeah, duh! I didn’t even think to look there.

I took a shower because I felt disgusting and put on some clean clothes in preparation for dinner. We had smoked swordfish, mushroom risotto, roast beef and chocolate pudding for diner. The pudding is actually more like a flan. I am now in the room icing my poor foot which seems to get bigger each minute. My sinuses are also not much better and I had to ask Jackie to pick up some Allegra from my house and drop off with my dad to bring when he comes in on Monday.

So, that’s all the news from this side of the world. It’s an early start for us tomorrow as we are leaving the hotel at 8:00 and heading to the start village and then we will leave after the riders and take a different route to the top of the Col du Galibier to watch some mountain climbing. It should be a great day for le Tour!

Me and Joy - she's from South Africa

Two Italian policmen - polizia - holding the South African flag.
 didn't bring a flag with me. Oh well.

The final meters to the finish.

Fans along the final meters.

Here I am all ready to wave my pom poms and yell as the riders pass!


Alison said...

You crack me up! Riders in towels, indeed! :D

Erika said...

So exciting!!!

Try to catch some pics of the men in towels next time please - haha!

Jackie said...

I got the allegra over to your dad last night. He's excited about getting there! I am waiting with bated breath for some riders in towels pics:)

Anonymous said...

Like the yellow hat on you with the blue striped shirt. Definitely the new colors right now. The town look so cute and seeing the crowds makes you want to join them.
Jan Bell