Tuesday, July 23, 2013

paris -- le tour hits town

Even the gods were watching le Tour.

You cross the Seine (via the bridge that puts you in the gigantic courtyard of the Louvre) for lunch and to scope out your spot to view the final stage of le Tour.  It is hot and sunny;  photo perfect. You claim real estate at the corner of Rue de Rivoli and Ave. du General Lemmonier around 5:30, about two and a half hours before the first bike will emerge from the tunnel.  They will pass this spot ten times -- once every eight minutes or so -- as they do laps from here to the Arc De Triomphe and back, with the finish on the Champs-Elysees.  All spots on the rail are taken, and have been for a couple of hours, so you camp out next to the young Brit couple on the rail.  He is jacked because Chris Froome, a Brit is going to win le Tour; she's along for the ride.  The Norwegians have taken over the whole corner across from you, their flags displayed prominently.  Pamella swoons from the heat -- not from the sun, but rather her gendarme du jour.

The race finally comes to town.  Sometimes you recognize a jersey, sometimes it's a blur of colors and machinery. The bikes go by in a thick rush of speed, muscle, power and testosterone that slaps you senseless.  These are the 200 best cyclists on the planet, and their combined aura coming around that turn astonishes intensely.  

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