Tour de France Exclusive
July 13, 2004
Odometer: 3000 km
Oh sweet rest day! Not
the whole day but enough. Sleep late, brekkie on the hotel terrace
overlooking a huge sand sculpture on the beach that was like 25 ft high, a
quick saunter around town and then a 7-hour drive on national (i.e. one
lane each way) roads.
Our hotel last night was
also fab. We were in the quite medieval town of Aubusson – the
peloton goes past/through it on today’s route – in fact, the
last climb is the Cote d’Aubusson. Our hotel was an 18th century
house with cloisters on the corridors, a master staircase that was cambered
because it was worn so much and like 15ft ceilings. Our room at the Hotel
La France was huge – there was an armoire the size of a double-decker
bus in one corner, a writing desk, a seating area AND a four-poster bed.
They don’t seem to yet realize in France that beds do need the box
spring – too many mattresses on bed bases. Great hotel –
another to recommend to go along with the Butte aux Bois in Lanaken and the
La Diana in Carnac.
Just coz it’s a
nice hotel however still doesn’t guarantee a shower curtain or a
place on the wall to put the showerhead. So the shower is a challenging
proposition of clamping the showerhead between your knees or just letting
that thing fly and dancing around in the spray. Bob thought he’d hit
the motherlode last night when he got in the shower and found that there
was a hook in the wall for the showerhead in our 18th century hotel. A loud
“clunk” later however and he emerged hysterical from the
bathroom – the hook had held up for about 3 seconds before coming out
of the wall. I guess we are doomed to never be able to just stand under the
Until we found the
4-poster in the room we were fairly convinced that there was a conspiracy
amongst the crew to book us a room with twin beds! You ask for a
“double” room and you get a room with two twins pushed together
… hello! So the 4-poster no matter that it was like 6” off the
ground was a nice treat.
Ran out of undies
yesterday but the laundry came back today – the timing of the slick
OLN machine never fails to impress. Even the 7-hour drive didn’t drag
too much. The sweet Skoda burnt off more than a few
Sunday-afternoon-drivers in some of my best overtaking maneuvers. As you
rip along there are constant reminders of traffic accidents as the French
have a habit of putting black stand-up silouettes on the roadside at the
site of road accidents. Yesterday we must’ve driven by at least 50 of
these things on this super-long national road. They seemed to be always at
the end of the overtaking section so it was a subtle hint to not push the
overtaking maneuvers too much.
We arrived in time
– 5 minutes before the kitchens shut and then we were out taking a
walk around Aubussson. 2 weeks with no exercise and catered lunches is BAD!
So we hiked around for a bout an hour – up and down these skinny
stone streets – we even found a house form the 15th century tucked
away. Right next to a condom machine! In France every pharmacy has a
coin-operated condom machine on the wall outside – just in case you
get caught short. Aubusson is definitely worth a trip back as is Carnac.
The Bobster and I are planning on a trip to Cape Hatteras in Sept. He is
off to work for NBC at the Olympics directly from Paris – on his run
of something like 86 days in a row!
We keep kind of saying
“oh we should do X when we get back” and then we remember that
he won’t be back on US shores until early-September. Good timing for
when the hordes have gone. Then things quieten down for him and we can go
Until then we are
halfway into our trip here, 10 stages in, 1 more rest day to come and 12
days ‘til Paris. All is good and we are all psyched for
tomorrow’s stage 10 when the race really begins and, thanks to the
Bastille Day celebrations, we get to catch up with the fireworks we missed
on the 4th.
A tout a l’heure.
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