Ventoux… our ride was easy compared to the Pros… yes, the fans were awful!

IMG_2261froome_gauntletThere was little drama associated with our ride up Ventoux; no issues getting there, finding a place to ride from, and sure, it was cold & windy near the top (which was actually 7k from the real top, since they’d shortened the climb a bit due to the nasty conditions) but we were pretty well prepared for it.

But the crowds, in our area, were the worst I’ve ever seen. This was the first time I’ve witnessed first-hand the near-complete-collapsing of the roadway space for the cyclists; flags everywhere, people pushing in anyplace there wasn’t a barrier. The answer can’t possibly be to barricade the entire race, and there are certainly simple measures that could be entertained that might make things a lot more civilized.

Starting with flags. I’m not just saying this because they get into my pictures. In fact, it can sometimes look pretty cool when a cyclist emerges from “the tunnel.” But check out what we were dealing with at 500 meters to go. Originally they had no barricades at all past 500 meters, but eventually installed them on just one side, shortly before the race. On the other side, Gendarmes attempted to keep the crowds pushed back. Yeah right, like that’s possible?

Trek's Bauke Mollema blasting up Ventoux, moving into 3rd place.
Trek’s Bauke Mollema blasting up Ventoux, moving into 3rd place.

We had no idea at the time that anything had gone wrong less than a kilometer down the road from us, but something seemed really odd with Trek’s Bauke Mollema, a really good rider but not a Tour de France winner, came up the hill over a minute ahead of Chris Froome. Turns out Mollema, Porte and Froome had all been involved in a collision with a race TV motorcycle when it had to suddenly stop due to fans essentially closing the road. Of the three Mollema picked himself up fastest while Froome had to deal with the further indignity of a motorcycle behind him running into his bike and breaking it.

At the end of the day the good news is that the Tour de France organization gave Froome the same time as Mollema so he didn’t lose the Yellow Jersey, and Mollema himself moved up to 3rd place.

So little drama for Kevin and I, but a very exciting race.  –Mike–

 

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Seeing the Feed Zone was disappointing, but getting a “new” TdF sign saved the day!

So how do you carry a very large sign on a bike? Like this! As long as you've got tailwinds, it works quite well. With a headwind, entirely different story. Fortunately we had tailwinds on the return, when Kevin carried the sign back.
So how do you carry a very large sign on a bike? Like this! As long as you’ve got tailwinds, it works quite well. With a headwind, entirely different story. Fortunately we had tailwinds on the return, when Kevin carried the sign back.
Our bikes on the train to Beziers.
Our bikes on the train to Beziers.

So how do you carry a very large sign on a bike? Like this! As long as you’ve got tailwinds, it works quite well. With a headwind, entirely different story. Fortunately we had tailwinds on the return, when Kevin carried the sign back.[/caption]Today we were going to do something different, which isn’t so easy to accomplish after seeing the Tour de France so many times. So what to try? A feed zone! Kevin’s really into snagging water bottles, and the possibility of getting a feed bag was tantalizing.

So instead of skipping viewing the stage, we headed out on a train at 8:30am, arrived in Beziers about 11:30, and rode into an EPIC headwind towards an oddly-named town that we didn’t quite get to at first because we thought we were there already and… well it was a really cute little town with very good food and friendly people. Just not where the feed zone was. Murviel-lès-Béziers is a very nice place, just not the right place. So after eating we headed further down the road, except that the roads had now been closed ahead of the Caravan, so we tried to skirt around them, and did a lot of walking whenever we came across the Gendarmes, but it was only 4 miles down the road, we could make it entirely on foot if we had to.

We made it, with plenty of time to spare, but it was pretty anticlimactic. Not much going on because this was a part of the course with a really heavy tailwind, so the pack if flying through too fast to grab the feedbags, the road is too narrow for them to spread out to get them if they wanted to, so really pretty much nothing to see here, move along. We’ll take a look at the photos when we have time, but doubt there’s much to see.

IMG_0473sign_kevin_stationOn the other hand, as we headed back we spotted a killer sign! A new sign we hadn’t seen before. A sign someone had attached to a post so well that it was a real bear to remove, requiring me to get out my multi-tool’s knife and literally cut part of it away from the post. But success! Thank goodness we had a tailwind on the way back, or it wouldn’t have been very easy for Kevin to deal with.

Tomorrow is Ventoux. They’ve taken the edge off it, shortening the race by 4 miles because the winds and cold at the top are forecast to be rather horrific, but it’s still going to be a very tough climb for us. We’re brining everything, all the cold-weather gear, which hopefully we won’t need but better to be prepared for the worst. Film at 11!

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