A beautiful ending to Le Tour

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted for a while! Hoped to be able to do one or two short posts whilst in France, but that didn’t happen.

So, you want to know ‘they story?’ I’m not going to included everything, just a outline. Let’s just say this:

I picked Melissa up from Heathrow last Sunday, drove to the Eurotunnel, managed to get an earlier slot and went to Calais. Unfortunately my phone didn’t work over there. Except for WiFi. I got a little lost (the sat nav was very out of date). Almost drove on the wrong side of the road a few times. And finally got back on the road toward Pau. I drove until about 10.30pm (maybe later) that night, and we finally stopped at a hotel, where luckily they had a room available. That is where I posted my last blog! The next day I drove onto Pau. All of this was via the toll roads as I got too lost if I wasn’t on them!

In Pau, after a few guesses, I managed to find the underground car park in the centre of Pau. Thank god! I was a very worried about how long I could park there, but managed to sort that out later on. We wandered up and down before finding our way to the finish area. When we had found a spot, Melissa wanted to go for a wander. It was hot and about 5 mins after she went off I walked back into town. Then I could check out Hotel Bosquet, attempt to contact my parents and hopefully use the Wifi in Quick (the french version of Burger King). This I managed to do and eventually wandered back towards the finish, where all the team buses were parked. I asked the Orica-Greenedge boys how far they had left, and watched the riders come in from there.

Eventually the team buses were surrounded by people, and I got smacked on the head by the Eurosport camera (thanks you idiots) by the Team Sky bus. Eventually saw Melissa by the RSNT bus and took some pics etc. Then we went back to the car to attempt to find the hotel for the night! It took a lot of doing and I was knackered by the time we got there (just as reception was closing). A lot of media people were staying at Appart City Pau Idron.
Then the Wifi didn’t work! A quick shower then I was asked by her if I was going out to get something to eat. I wasn’t planning to as I had already eaten, but took her down to town as she looked pretty miserable. I suppose it must be very difficult being a vegan! Eventually I found somewhere to park and using the GPS on my phone, managed to find our way to restaurant after restaurant . Finally she decided one would suit and sat down. Loads of people were about. She was very unhappy with the sheer amount of people smoking and kept getting up to go for a walk.

Anyway. Finally we got back to the hotel. Where I get informed she hadn’t sorted any way to get back to Heathrow for her flight home. As she had already said she wasn’t staying in Paris with me, I had left her to it! I think by then I had had enough of trying to help her. Cue much banging around in the hotel room as i attempted to sleep.

Tues am: I go to reception to see if anyone could help us out using the WiFi on Melissas laptop. One of the receptionists, Christina Chorley, was British and agreed to immediately help her. I wandered down to Lidl to buy a bit of food (didn’t have enough money for breakfast in every hotel), and on the way back saw Vacansoleil out on a training ride.
Tues pm (ish): Back at the hotel Melissa eventually gave up and decided she wanted to move on back into town to try and find Wifi there. When we got there she went off on her own, and I decided to take a wander up to the hotel we were staying in that night. Ah we had one double bed. Crap. Oh well, I decided to wander up to the Sky/BMC/Garmin hotel, as we had driven past it earlier. I met some lovely American’s who were lost, and showed them the way to the team hotel.
Met @monadott and her friends, and #bernieontour. They were lovely people, and let me hang around with them until late in the afternoon when they went back to their hotel.
I spoke with loads of people about getting up the Tourmalet on the day, and was told it just wasn’t possible with a car. By this time i was feeling pretty ill, and was getting very stressed. I had no contact with melissa either (her phone is American and doesn’t work on European bandwidth or something). All I knew was she’d gone to find RSNT hotel. I took her luggage up from the car to the hotel, and finally went back for my own. Then I went to Quick to use their WiFi again. Then to the hotel for a shower and eventually fell asleep by 10ish.
Was woken up at 12 when she arrived. Tried to go to sleep, but she then asked me what the plan was the next day. I told her I’d been ill, and had been trying to work out if it was possible to get up the Tourmalet and said no.
A couple of hours later she starts banging around the room, having a shower, drying her hair right next to me etc. by now I felt awful, stomach cramps the whole lot. Then she picked my car keys up. Asked her what she was doing. She said seeing if she’d left anything in the car. No way do I ever let anyone take my keys. Especially at that time of the morning – after all I don’t really know her. She told me she was making her own way up the Tourmalet. Fine. Went out with her, waited until she had want she needed. And she went.

Weds am: talked though what I should doo wiith the young French lad on reception duties. He suggested buying a Pay As You Go phone. But to go and watch the stage start first. I wandered up there, and it was blisteringly hot! Watched the caravan go out. By then I felt horrendous, so went back to town centre and found a Carphone Warehouse. Got a cheap PAYG mobile and got the girl in the shop to set it up for me!
By 10.30 (ish) i’d had enough. I was frightened of driving on my own, and about tolls and money etc. Spoke to the lovely people in the tourism office, and phoned the parents. Then started on a long drive towards Chartres.

Weds pm: after the first hour or so on the road, I felt a lot more comfortable. Still had to stop every other service station though… Eventually made it to Chartres, and stopped at the Comfort hotel, where luckily I had just enough money to pay for a room and breakfast. Weirdly enough I ended up having a McDonalds for “supper.”
Thank god i had a PAYG phone, and my mum bless her heart managed to book me a room in Hotel de la Chappelle (near Chevreuse) for the next 2 nights. Also had WiFi that worked.

Thurs: managed to eventually drive into Chartres and posted a postcard (for dear old Lady Hornby). Then drove onto the next hotel. I was pretty ill, it wasn’t pleasant and it isn’t worth going into details!!
The hotel manager gave me expert directions for driving into Paris on Saturday morning!

Sat: felt a lot better! Drove into Paris (how easy!) and parked at Porte de Auteuil at the big Carrefor supermarket. Couldn’t wait to meet up with Verity who arrived at the Gare Du Nord at midday. Walked to the hotel, got directions for parking that was a LOT closer. Walked to the Eiffel Tower.

LOL!! Took a pic or two!!

Finally Verity got a taxi to the Eiffel Tower. I have never been so relieved to see my best friend in my whole life. Finally i had someone to have a laugh with and hopefully enjoy the last couple of days in Paris!!

and we took another pic or two.
Then we walked back to the car, moved it to nearer the hotel. Our room wasn’t ready, so left our luggage there and walked up towards the Champs Elysees. Failed to find the Team Sky Fan Party, and we walked up and down for ages. Finally a text came though on my phone. Tim Baines and David Dunphy you are a legends!! I eventually rang Tim back and we got a taxi to the Frog XVI

We watched the last 7 or 8 (i think) and had a refreshing Bulmers!! then everyone started disappearing and we got a taxi back to the hotel. we decided to get to the Arc for half 6ish in the morning, as I was aware that there would be a lot of people!

Sunday: We got up to the Arc for 6.40am

And found the Team Sky Fan Zone pretty easily! It was quiet for a long time, and it was pretty chilly! (I wore my PJ bottoms over my shorts on the way up!).

Then we met Chris, the one with ‘the’ hat, who lent me his Sky Procycling softshell jacket…

but eventually people started to arrive. We had bought camping chairs, and it was a relief to sit down for a while! Met some lovely people (please friend me on Facebook or Twitter as I am useless and can’t remember your names!!)

And it got hotter and hotter!!! And more and more packed!!

The caravan don’t throw anything out on the Champs Elysees. But one PMU girl dropped a sprint hand…

which a very kind policeman picked up for me!! We had plenty of fun waiting… (thanks Fran Millar for the temp tattoos:

(did you know sunscreen spray seals them? even after 3 showers mine are still on my arms!!)

And then finally… (this isn’t the first pic, but it has both Cav and Wiggo in it)

It was mental! I have cracking pictures on facebook in an open photo album. feel free to tag away!

The songs were sung, the British were showing their best side, and it was quite frankly amazing. Now I have been to Cheltenham Festival, and that is merely ‘enjoyable’ compared to this. The atmosphere was incredible!! I just wish i had recorded everyone singing for Wiggo. The Team Sky Sportbrake Jag’s got massive cheers everytime they went past.

And eventually they rode toward the finish on the last circut… everyone was holding their breath and gathered around various peoples phones or listening to David Dunphy… then when Cav crossed the line first the place went beserk!!!

After a while, the teams began arriving to have their pic’s taken in front of the Arc. Champagne was being popped everywhere behind us (and it tasted beautiful!). Then Liquigas appeared, and people started chanting/ singing for Sagan, for Basso and for Nibali. It was amazing, even more so when Peter Sagan ‘ran’ straight at me….

and signed the PMU sprint hand I had got from earlier! Then Sky appeared… well you can guess how massively they were cheered!

and then Wiggo ran at me as well….

and everyone surger forward to congratulate him. I got a fair few bruises from it! And then Cav appeared (I don’t have a photo 😦 unfortunately) and he signed my sprint hand as well!

and as they rode away, people started drifting off…

We started wandering back to the hotel, only for Verity to realise she had lost her sunglasses, we went back but no such luck, they were gone. Then spotting a souvenir shop (or several) she bought another pair! Finally we walked the hour or so back to the hotel, first of all seeing this:

and then this…

you wouldn’t think it was gone 10 at night!

We were both very footsore and tired, and slept very well! Not sure what time we left Paris, but got to the Eurotunnel 6 hours before we were meant to go! And they let us get on the next train for an extra £1. Brilliant! We lined up and found ourselves behind the Spanish cycling team car, so we asked for a picture…

so thanks guys! and mr saxo bank tinkoff bank person who took the photo!

I had a brilliant weekend with some amazing people. It made up for the start of the week!

But most of all thanks to all you guys and girls on Twitter for the sheer amount of emotional support you gave me! You have no idea how much it means, and you helped me get through day by day.
Thanks also to my brother and especially my parents, the trip wouldn’t have been possible without your help!
Thanks to Tim Baines for texting me the pub info, and to David Dunphy for organising the whole Team Sky Fan shindig. It was amazing…

Now I am tired, and it’s backk to work tomorrow, but expect a blog from the Womens Road Race at the Olympics on Sunday as (thanks to Rhys White) I have a ticket for the Mall!!!

I have managed to keep smiling, even through the tears last week, thanks guys and girls…

Ciao!!

xx

 

 

Advertisements

Planning TdF…

So Sunday didn’t work out as planned, with @v_girlracer having done a 20 mile walk along the Ridgeway the day before; she had hurt her ankle. I decided to go it along and start marking out our route from Calais to Belfort. This has to be done the cheapest way possible i.e as few toll roads as possible.

Now in this day and age you’d think either the AA route map or the RAC route map (I use them in Britain all the time) would be fairly useful. Ah, well you were as wrong as me if you thought that!!!

Google eventually threw up the http://www.autoroutes.fr/en/traffic-forecast.htm a French route map. This is brilliant. Obviously put your ‘departure’ and ‘destination’ in. Then click on ‘modify the research’ then under options go for economical. This has put our toll at 2 Euros (just realised theeres no euro symbol on my keyboard!) and fuel at just over 68 Euros.  On the original one it shows the toll as 41.6 Euros, although the fuel is slightly cheaper at 63.29 Euros.

So I’d found a route (alright it’s nearly 9 hours of driving (compared to 6.45 on the shorter more expensive route) but there is two of us!). Then I had to plot it onto the massive fold out road map I have, ok it took a while, but it’s done! Then I thought I’d better plot it onto the big detailed road book of France that we have. Now THAT was EXHAUSTING!!!

No we don’t have a Sat Nav, although i’m hoping someone might have one we can borrow!!

Hmmm, what next? Well until the detailed route comes out in June, we can’t really work out where we can watch it. Yes we are going to be at the start and finish of some stages, but I have a feeling Dutch corner might be calling! I’ve also been warned that the start and finish are madly hectic and not to bother with them. Think I’m autograph hunting? Puhlease! (Alright I have Alex Dowsetts autograph, that a friend of mine sent me, but really?!? Not my scene). I’ll have my camera, my best mate, a great sense of humour and….. am i missing something? Oh possibly the bikes and riders…. 😉

We also have to think about camping, having not found anyone willing to lend us a campervan. And trying to stay somewhere near Pau on the rest day when hopefully my TF (twitter friend) is meeting us.

We have loads of other stuff to think about, but thats it for now!!

Ciao

@elzrocks

planning a TdF trip!

Hi people! I haven’t kept the blog updated recently as I couldn’t finish the #30daysofbiking last month, and being so knackered when I got home that it seemed like too much effort to write a blog!

In the meanwhile, it has been decided that me and my best friend (@v_girlracer) are going to the Tour de France (easier to refer to as TdF) from the 7th of July to the end.

Now this might interest you, or it might not. And I’ve already been told we are mad for doing it! Well no one ever described me as sane….

So, where to start?
Buy maps, one big fold out road map and a big spiral detailed map of France. Get highlighters. Green for the start and orange for the finish of each stage (from 7th July onwards!). The exact route hasn’t been confirmed yet, and we are still waiting for it to come through.

Ah forgot to say, we are doing this with very little money! We won’t be booking hotels every night, in fact probably just the last 2 nights!

Now we have highlighted stage starts and finishes – @v_girlracer is brilliant at finding them – and now we have to start our route planning. This means avoiding toll roads, as we simply don’t have the money to pay for them! So it looks like our first leg – Calais to Belfort might well take us through Brussels and Luxembourg! And according to the AA route planner, its quicker than the toll roads!

We wanted to take a campervan, so we could take our bikes, but it looks like it’s too expensive, so we will probably be leaving our bikes at home and travelling in my car. This means tents!

We’ve also looked at rules of the road in France, haven never driven abroad, and found out the stuff we have to take. Reflective jackety things (we have plenty – my Tour of Britain one might come in handy *joke*), a warning triangle (my landlady has one) etc etc.

So today, we are going to start to highlight the routes we are going to take, have a look at booking on the Eurostar, and finding a cheap twin room in Paris for the last 2 nights…. easier said than done!

I’ll probably be blogging about this from now until we get back in July! I’m madly excited to go and do this!

So I’m off out on my bike in a bit, after a coffee, then I’ll be waiting for @v_girlracer to appear. We’ll also have the #giro on, so if you follow me on twitter – @elzrocks – then I’ll be tweeting about that as well.

I’ve also been invited to guest blog on Inklings and Inklings (a wordpress blog) so look out for my tweets!

cheers

@elzrocks and @v_girlracer (best mates for 24 years!)

ciao

Having to choose!

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve made the right choice – about what I do for a living. Let’s face it I could be sat in an office, climbing the walls with boredom, getting RSI from typing on a keyboard too much, or iPad finger, doing nothing all day but reply to emails, answer the phone… it just doesn’t interest me!

Wow we had some serious strange weather today, and I was outside to experience it – heavy hail, light rain, blazing sun, freezing wind… the list goes on and on.

So I’ve got to the point in life where I realise I can’t do this job for the rest of my life, and I don’t want to. I don’t want to be worn down and become bitter like a few people I know who still work with racehorse. So where do I go? What do I do?

I actually have no idea. I went to Loughborough Uni mature student open day last year, and yes it looked awesome. Do I have the pre requisite grades? Er, no. Should I do a course to get those grades? Er, can’t afford it. Crap. Now what? Maybe the Open University? Actually I’m quite tempted, but again the cost of it… Fail.

Ok so what interests me? Ah, racehorses, cycling, photography, reading books, socialising… What can I do with a list like that? No, I don’t want to be a vet! should I get Cytech qualified? Learn how to take better photos? Hmm, I really don’t know.

Somewhen, I’d like to travel around the world – just to see what it’s like. Funnily enough Britain is boring me….

Anyone want to lend me a VW Campervan for the Tour de France this year? Anyone at all? Ah… thought not

Keep smiling 🙂 (and thank you to the one person who does keep me smiling!!)