Thursday, July 14, 2005

Lance in the Alps

So there I was - high in the Alps at Courchevel 1850, camped out a night ahead of time to claim a good spot for the anticipated day when Lance Armstrong would put the hurt on the competition and reclaim the Yellow Jersey...

First, the journey...

By train from Mulhouse to Lyon, and then a rented car into the mountains - the trains only going as far as Moutier, at the base of Courchevel, and still 30k from the finish...

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy driving in Europe. The French national highway system is one thing they've done close to right. Not as nice as the German Autobahn (but what is), but better than the American Interstate. Yes, it has a speed limit - but at 130kph (plus my customary 10%) - it's a speed limit I can live with. Adopting the French habit of yielding to no one, I managed to fit right in...

Up the switchbacks of Courchevel in a late afternoon thunderstorm - watching cyclists struggle up to the finish, knowing that they're miserably working up the bragging rights to say 'I did it..."

I spend an entire morning hiking high into the meadow-covered ski runs, past 3000 meters - an incredible day in the mountains that was long past due...

In the afternoon, a bunch of us - Germans, Aussies, and a variety of others - gathered around a camper van with a television, watching the race develop as they drew close - anticipating the moment when Lance and company would catch a breakaway...

And then it happened - off he went! You could tell even if you weren't watching the television - by the moaning sounds of "Nein...." "Mein Gott..." and the general misery of the Germans who just knew that it was happening all over again...

By the time Lance came past, he was on fire - making the climb look ridiculously easy. An amazing sight to see... A fabulous moment to experience...

And I think I got "The Shot..."

Gotta run for now...

More Later...

SPB

2 comments:

Grace Hawkins said...

Steve, very evocative descriptions! I spent a summer in Remollon near Gap, so I know this general area well. France is a breathtakingly diverse and over-the-top gorgeous country. The dining hour problems you are having are ven worse in some European countries, but that's because they take their closing times seriously: time is needed to enjoy their families! (what a novel idea)

I have really enjoyed your blog- allez Lance, allez Steve!

Mark Brown said...

Steve,
What a great adventure. I am so glad that you're have such a great time. Sometimes it very cool to be alone. You get to know yourself. You get to be quite in your mind. You find out who you are without someone elses energy rubbing off on you. Continue having a wonderful time. You deserve it.