Friday, August 03, 2007


After regrouping at the top of the Tourmalet, we took the sag vans down the other side to Luz A'rdidan (an amazing drive with spectacular views) for lunch, then made the long drive to Cahors. I was a bit sad leaving the Pyrenees, but was excited at the same time to see what's next. Just outside of Cahors is a small village called Mercues where our next hotel was located. Again, this hotel was a very old castle with the rooms being modernized. It was an amazing place.

Wednesday morning, we headed out on a destination ride to the town of Sellat (sp?). It was a rolling ride through very scenic country. The roads were great for riding and it was another beautiful day. About 10K in, there was a longer climb (not compared to what we climbed in the Pyrenees, but about 5 minutes) and at the top, I turned to see just Michele and one of the Florida boys, Mike. We had a fun, fast downhill then zipped along at about 40K/hr for the next 40 minutes before realizing we were lost, but Michele figured it out and took us on some cool back roads and soon we were back on course. the rest of the ride remained at a pretty good tempo.

We had Foi Gras and ducks legs for lunch, then walked around town before viewing the rest of the days stage from a small pub in the town. This was the mountain stage that Rasmussen won, only to be kicked out of the tour later in the evening by his team.

Dinner was to be on our own this evening, with a bus dropping everyone off in Cahors, but after a long, busy day, and week thus far, Lisa and I were pretty wiped and decided to stay at the hotel. In fact, we grabbed a baguette and some cheese in the town after leaving the pub, and picked up a bottle of wine from the hotels wine cellar/vineyard, and that was dinner!

Thursday was another destination ride leaving from Mercues and through rolling countryside. We were all grouped in the parking lot ready to roll out, but I was having some shifting issues with my front derailleur, so Michele stayed back with me and everyone else moved on. 15 minutes later, Michele and I headed out to try and bridge the gap up to the group. About 10 minutes in, we descended a small hill that took us onto a bridge over the river. the bridge was about 100 meters long and was made up of metal planks about 8 inches wide with a 1 inch gap between each plank. I hit the bridge first at about 35 mph and my tires popped into the small 1 inch groove and I started fishtailing all over. I regained control only to fall back into the groove again and start fishtailing some more. I still don't know how I stayed up.

We caught the group about 10K and on a long winding climb, Eric and I took off. The rest of the ride was a lot of fun - we had one descent that was a series of big s-bends - like 12 of them, and you could keep your speed up on these without breaking too much. There were sunflower fields everywhere on this ride. At the top of one climb, I turned around and the land below looked like a sea of yellow.

After the ride, we changed at the bus, had some lunch, then made our way to the finish of the days stage. We had a private viewing booth set up at the 50 meters to go mark, perfect for viewing the sprint. It was a hot day, and the booth had air conditioning down below, plus coverage up top. They also had screens to watch the race as it approached the finish. They provided us drinks and snacks including ice cream. Not a bad way to watch the tour! Lisa and I did some more shopping while waiting for the riders to come in. We picked up Ryan a full Predictor Lotto team kit, a yellow jersey and a polka dot jersey.

The sprint was great - there was a 4 man breakaway that included Jens Voight, or as the French announcer yells his name "Jensaa Voightaa!". Also in this group was Daniello Bennati who took the sprint.

We headed from here to our next host hotel in St. Emillion. St. Emillion, and the hotel there, was Lisa's favorite place. The hotel sat in the middle of the vineyards. We were still in the Bordeaux region and there were vineyards everywhere! Every vineyard was perfectly manicured, with the rows evenly parallelled and each plant looking exactly like the next. We had a great room with a balcony overlooking these vineyards.

Friday morning was our last ride of the trip. Saturday was a busy day of viewing the time trial then catching the bullet train to Paris, and then Sunday was the finish in Paris, so there was no riding scheduled over the weekend.

It was yet another perfect weather day - high 70's to low 80's and sunny. The first 40K of this ride took us through once again some beautiful country side with rolling hills, vineyards and more sunflower fields everywhere. We then rode a bike path for the next 25k that went through the vineyards. It was great - paved nicely and no cars! I was stung by a bee on my thigh, but I'm not allergic. In the final 8K, we rode through the town of St. Emillion which is all cobbled road. I don't know how the pro riders do a race like Paris Roubaix and ride cobbles for a good portion of it. After 1K on it, I could feel the shattering in my teeth!

We went into St. Emillion after the ride to get some lunch and then we went on a tour of a vineyard and did some wine tasting - good stuff! Then I packed up the bike and floated in the pool for a bit, before heading back into town for a great dinner. We entered the restaurant and were escorted through it to a courtyard in the rear that was gorgeous. The food and company were nice and Lisa and I were getting quite relaxed in St. Emillion. Tomorrow though, we were headed to Paris.

No comments: