A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Champs Elysees and home

The cycling for the trip - for us, at least - was over on the Friday. All that remained was to drive back, with an interlude via Paris to watch the final stage of the Tour (by long tradition finishing on the Champs Elysees). Saturday’s plan was to pack, and drive to Paris, where we would spend the night. A combination of a slightly late start, and more traffic than we’d anticipated, meant we didn’t make it as far as we’d hoped by lunchtime. In the end, this turned out to be rather fortuitous: we decided to the turn the enforced delay to our advantage and stop off in Grenoble to see the time trial. This was very productive in terms of pictures (time trial photos), and also it turned out to be a critical leg of the race. Others, I’m sure, have written about the race in far greater depth than I have here, so I’ll simply give a brief overview: Andy Schleck took the yellow jersey on Friday, on the strength of his phenomenal ride the day before, which had left him about 15 seconds behind Voeckler going into Friday’s stage. However, his nearest challenger on Saturday morning was the world-renowned time triallist Codel Evans, who was about 1 minute behind Schleck in the GC competition. Evans managed to take 2 minutes off Schleck in the time trial - with the help of a 30mph bunnyhop over a manhole cover - to take the lead and win overall; cue a mass outbreak of Aussie flags outside most of the bars in Grenoble!

We arrived in the Bois de Boulogne around midnight, and tried to set up our tents with the minimum of fuss. It was difficult to do without disturbing other campers - the pitches wre crammed in as close to each other as physically possible. On top of that, the showers were cold, the toilets were the traditional French style (i.e., holes in the ground, and disgustingly smelly), and it was very expensive. Definitely not a campsite I’d recommend, and I was glad we were only staying there one night! However, despite that, we all slept soundly, and woke early on the Sunday to head down and grab good spots for the finish of the Tour. We were wandering down the Chapms Elysees, when Si saw, beneath a step ladder, a familiar face: James and Tom, from Cambridge, were in Paris too, on their way out to do the Alp d’Huez triathlon. The step ladder was definitely a good idea! However, even without one we managed to find a good spot on the final straight and with a view of a big screen, so we could see the approach of the race. As is often the case, the final stage was more or less a victory lap for the winners, but good fun to watch nevertheless. Once over, we drove to Calais for the ferry to Dover, arriving back tired, hungry, but decidely happy.
That’s all for the Alps, at least until the next time i go; soon I’ll get back to writing about the three peaks, and Scotland!