Subject: Re: Tour de France
Hi Lucy,

we used to go and see one or two Tour stages in the Pyrenees, but not any more.

We began in 1985 or 1986 (but my aunt and uncle have been to the Tourmalet at the beginning of the 60īs, so you can imagine how it was back then ...). Everything depended on the date. Weekends is a real nightmare to get there, and the traffic jams going down ... The usual way of preparing is :

- check the schedule as soon as it comes out (sometime in fall the previous year. Cities pay years in advance to be hosts of a Tour stage).

- the best stages are the mountain ones, because the riders donīt go so fast, and you might be able to distinguish one of them. Also you have to find out which way are they going to climb. I like more this yearīs climb of Tourmalet, but in the other direction is more spectacular, across the wall ...

- we always went camping (there are lots of people and it is very, very funny), so we usually tried to arrive there in the morning of the previous day. Find a decent place, park the van, install the tent, and go on a hike (the National Park of Neouvielle is easily reached from the Tourmalet, and it is an amazing view).

- the morning of the stage, get down to the road, find a place near a curve (they go slower there), and sit down to watch the cavalcade pass in front of you. We have got some very good France maps from IGN that way, but it is funnier when they throw Coca-Cola cans ...

- watch the cyclist zoom in front of you

- suffer under the heat, get angry with some stupid man who has decided to jump into the road and push everyone, laugh when you see the famous italian sprinter climb up with a hand on his teamīs car ...

- pack everything, get into the return traffic jam, try to listen to the radio and find out who has won

- get back home tired, filthy and happy

This year, they closed the climb up to Luz Ardiden two days before the stage, and not so many people were able to get there with their cars. It was a bit of a nightmare.

I donīt think that Iīll be going back to watch a stage in the Pyrenees. During the last years it has become too politized for my tastes, and many people who donīt have a clue about cycling have begun to go there and they donīt take care about whatīs going on in the road (think about Lance Armstrongīs incident two days ago ... do you think that the guy did realize that he was in the way of the cyclists ? I doubt it, I have seen worse things happening to lesser known cyclists). But I know that Iīd love to be able to watch something in the Giro dīItalia ... a climb of Passo Pordoi or Passo Sella, that would be good...

Kind regards, Covadonga Bilbao - Spain