26 July 2010

Final Stage of the Tour de France

Paris is an amazing city
People people everywhere. The morning in Paris started quiet and calm as I sat having a cappuccino in a cafe just around the corner from my hotel. I was in no rush to get to the Champs Elysees quite yet, although I was looking so forward to the day. Every time I come to Paris I have a different experience. I love museums, but this trip was more about the people.
I did make it over to one museum, the Musee Rodin, I had never been. I sat looking up at The Thinker, thinking, just goes to show you if you sit around too long, a bird will shit on you
Also according to Rodin, the Gates of Hell are sort of an intense place to be.
Give me a Michelangelo or a Donatello any day, I think Rodin's hands are just too large. Most impressive was his home and the location of the property; right near the Invalides. Given that he was a modern sculptor, he did pretty well for an artist at the turn of the 20th century in Paris.
I found my way to the not too crowded Metro station to catch the subway to the Champs Elysees for the final stage of the Tour de France. Quickly I realized I was far more interested in the fans, than waiting on the front-lines of the barriers along the Boulevard. I even texted my brother in California at one point, and said "how much longer until the riders arrive in the city?" I couldn't take standing with the crowd pressing in on me any longer. 
So I freed myself, relinquishing my prime spot, and returned to walking among the fun fans instead.

I thought I'd share some images of the fans on Stage #20 of the Tour de France 2010 in Paris:
A very enthusiastic fan named Randal was trying to get the crowd to do the wave. He succeeded in getting it to go all the way around the corner at the end near the Arc du Triomphe. It was lots of fun for the crowd waiting for the race. This was a happy group of people to be around.
I then saw four happy satisfied men standing behind the American contingency, drinking cans of Heineken beer.  After being smashed in the crowd, I needed a beer! I walked straight up to these friendly men and asked, "do you speak English, where did you get your beer?" With perfect detail they directed me straight to the key location I had been longing for.
I wish I had gotten their picture because they ended up inviting me to go out to dinner with them, which was very nice. After the race, we went for Lebanese food and then walked up the Champs Elysees to sit having a beer outside in the Tuileries as the sun was setting. Chris, Mark, and Brian are pilots with Delta and were great fun to spend the evening with. They just happened to fly into town that morning and thought they'd go see the Tour de France.
I did get some pictures of the Caravan (but none are money shots, it was more about being there for me today and enjoying the atmosphere):
The pole dancing Xtra men where a fixture this year in the Caravan (I wonder how many calories they burn a day, and no they weren't out pole dancing on Stage 17 when it was raining so hard). Those StMichel teacakes do not taste very good, in fact most of the treats thrown out from the Caravan are yucky tasting, but the fans love the stuff. I kept giving them away. I did keep the hats galore, and kept piling them on top of my head. (They don't throw any freebies to the crowd along the Champs Elysees though).
Here is a picture of the actual Tour de France race. I didn't get too many shots, instead at every lap I chose to focus on the riders. I tried to pick out Cav or Lance or George or Fabian or Petacchi or Basso or others. The riders go by in a whir, but somehow, I seemed to see Lance on almost every lap. He was easy to spot, as was Contador. 
A few pictures from the procession afterward:

Robbie McEwen
David Zabriskie
Mark Cavendish (thank you Mark for getting this picture of Mark).
George Hincapie
Alessandro Petacchi (do you see the toddler shoes around his neck?)
The Radio Shack Team in their new 28 Livestrong jerseys (in honor of the 28 million Americans living with and surviving cancer)
Rui Costa
Team Astana
This is Alberta Contador .. he is very short, or the crowd was very tall, anyway I saw him, but no pictures really.
Alright that was my day at the finishing stage of the Tour de France 2010. Wow.
I am one year older in age and had a fun time texting my brother and friends during the day, and hanging out with the Delta Pilots. It was well worth traveling to Paris to see the finish. (Although I am not a fan of any of the airports in Paris. Flying in and out of the smaller airports in France is far far better).

Tomorrow I return from Toulouse, through London, back home to Denver, Colorado. Culture shock! and Altitude shock!