Spandex ya’ll

So not quite as timely as AGMA had hoped after my last post, but an improvement (if I do say so myself…)  Two posts in one month is promising.

But I had a VERY good reason why I am not posting until now….

Regular readers can probably guess.

Maybe.

Or have no clue.

Hints:

  1. AGMA hasn’t been able to travel internationally since March 2020.
  2. It’s July.
  3. The biggest cycling race of the year takes place in July.
  4. The biggest cycling race of the year takes place my very favorite country to visit (think wine, cheese and baguettes.).  The country of Monet, Édith Piaf, and Pepé Le Pew

YES!!

AGMA put my mask on, got on an airplane, and flew across the pond to see my boys in spandex.  

Viva la France!

It was like a religious experience.  

I had a 2 week trip planned in July 2020 to see the last week of the Tour de France plus see some other sights, but we all know how that turned out.  We barricaded ourselves in our homes (other than those who moved from Atlanta to Chicago…) in hopes of keep the contagion sweeping across the globe from landing on us.  It was a time of grave concern for our friends, family and country made worse by the total ineptitude of The Fat Orange Virus in the White House and his enablers. 

The cancellation of a pleasure trip seemed inconsequential given the ever increasing numbers in ICUs and funeral homes.

Fast forward to early June, 2021.  AGMA is healthy and fully vaccinated.  France is opening up to vaccinated American tourists in mid-June.  I’ve been watching European cycling events all spring on my laptop via a VPN (a way to get around geo-restrictions on cycling events.)

AGMA sensed a perfect storm!

I casually say to Hubs, “Would you mind if I went to France in July for a week to watch some of the Tour?” 

“Nope…”

I made my airline reservations that night.

AGMA knows the Delta variant is surging in parts of France.  But I also know that masks are mandatory pretty much in every inside space and on any form of transport there.  Hey – I survived COVID in the US when we had a “president” who wanted us to drink/inject bleach.  I felt confident I would be okay.

And it was wonderful!

Without boring those who don’t really care about the Tour de France (I will never understand you, but I still love you!), my first 2 days were spent in a town – 3 train rides away from CDG airport – called Libourne in the Bordeaux region.  It’s a charming town right on the beautiful Dordogne River, which was quite high and flowing quite fast because of all of the rain in Europe the previous 2 weeks.  Think those horrific, deadly floods in Belgium & the Netherlands.  The theme of high, fast flowing rivers followed me on my trip (both in Paris and Lyon.)

The main shopping street in Libourne
City Hall in Libourne
The very high Saône River in Lyon

Damn climate change.

I was in Libourne for the end of stage 19 and the beginning of stage 20 of the Tour de France.  Because stage 20 was a time trial and riders took off individually with a minute between each rider, I had a wonderful opportunity to see all the riders up close and personal.  I positioned myself near the beginning of the TT and close to one of the broadcasting cameras.  And some of my friends saw me on TV!

You can say you knew AGMA when…

Before all the riders had taken off, I had to hustle to catch my trains back to Paris.  The next day was the stage 21; the ride into Paris. 

On Sunday, July 18th, I went through the vaccination verification check near the Arc de Triomphe to scout a spot to watch the riders do their 8 circuits on the Champs-Élysée.  AGMA found a group of Danish fans who spoke excellent English and I settled in for the 4 hour wait until the riders showed up.

You do some very strange things for love…

Wout van Aert (Belgium) won the stage, Tadej Pogačar (Solvenia) won the yellow jersey (overall winner), the polka dot jersey (best climber), and the white jersey (best young rider). A cycling superstar at 22!

And Mark Cavandish (England), at 36, a sprinter that most people felt was way beyond his prime and the ability compete with the world’s best, won the Green jersey (best sprinter.)  And not only did he snag the Green jersey, but (and this is a WAY BIGGER deal!) tied the record of Eddy Merckx for most stages won EVER in the Tour de France.

I need a cigarette now….

What did AGMA do in France after the TdF you ask?  

I walked.  I walked for 5.5 hours in the Louvre.  I walked for hours all over Paris.  I walked more hours all over Lyon.  Hours and hours.  My new technowonder Alexa Echo watch told me that I averaged 19,000 steps a day for the 7 days I was gone.  Honestly, I didn’t know these stumpy legs had it in them.

And (this is really TMI so look away if you tend to be queasy) AGMA sweated.  Buckets.  It was hot in France.  The heat combined with hours of walking outside in the sun exacerbated by being in buildings that were supposed to be air conditioned, but…ummm…not really.  Buckets.  

It was kinda gross.

In Lyon, which is a WONDERFUL city by the way, AGMA had a COVID test per US requirements to go home.  I was negative so I had to leave the next day.

But the cherry on top of the trip was the flight home.  It was a Air France direct flight from Paris to Chicago.  And it was nearly empty. 

E.M.P.T.Y.

I was in the first cabin in economy (being the value traveler that I am.) There were 78 seats in the cabin.  There were 14 people in the cabin.  AGMA became the undisputed queen of row 20, and was able to lie totally flat to nap on the 4 middle seats.   And they gave me champagne with dinner and cognac after dinner.  

The perfect way to end a most unusual, exhausting, amazing, sweaty trip!

Viva la France!

16 thoughts on “Spandex ya’ll

    • It was really a great trip but certainly different from all my other visits to France. But of course with COVID, that’s to be expected! I kind of decided last minute to go because I had read France was opening up – I just booked the trip in early June. But global pandemic or not, Paris is still incredibly beautiful, French food is delicious, and French wine is fabulous! And I can’t wait to go back to Lyon – it was really wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I follow a FB page called Join Us in France and I was feeling all smug because I had been to this off the beaten path town and said I bet nobody else had been there. Oh boy – was I wrong! I guess in a group called Join Us in France, I should have figured that lots of folks may have visited of the beaten path town in France which they had! Even my blogging buddy Dookes has been there… That’s what I get for being smug! Ha. There is a local train that goes from Bordeaux to Sarlat that stops in all sorts of lovely (probably) towns along the Dordogne. Libourne is the first stop, so I got off and didn’t go any further. I’d love to just take a few weeks and make that trip stopping at the beautiful towns along the way!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Fantastic photos! Did you take them with your phone? We hope to be in Paris in October, but I don’t expect to log as many steps as you did. You clearly squeezed ever drop of pleasure out of your trip. Good for you!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Shelley! I have a relatively new Samsung S21 and it really takes nice pictures. There is all sorts of fancy stuff you can do with the pictures after you take them, but I haven’t figured that out yet! Once of my favorite settings for taking some of these pictures was putting it on 1.5 distance. Not quite a panoramic, but you get a wider view than the normal 1.0. Also, when I took picture of cyclists passing in 2013, I had to take a video then capture individual frames for pictures. It just turned out way too blurry if I just tried to take a still picture. ALL of my cycling pictures this time were taken as a still picture. The advance in technology and quality is stunning!

      And hey…we’re supposed to be back in Paris in October! When are you going? We’ll be there at the beginning of the month. And it’s Paris…you KNOW you will walk a whole lot! The thing is, I really didn’t realize how much I was walking (until the evening when I was dog tired!) because you just want to walk so you don’t miss anything!

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  2. I am so pleased you had such a good time AGMA! Libourne is a lovely town, so typical of many in the region and the central square a great place to enjoy a pastis, preferably Ricard, as the sun goes down.
    Le Tour this year was without doubt one of the most exciting for years and there were some incredible performances (and crashes!) that will stay in my memory for a long time.
    Just one little correction; Mark Cavendish is from the Isle of Man, so he is Manx not English, but still British and still a fantastic sprinter….we are a confusing lot here on our group of little islands!
    Catch you soon, Dookes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah ha! So being from the Isle of Man is like being from Wales or Scotland? British, but but not English? I know they call him the Manx Missile – I didn’t realize Manx was a descriptive national term like Scottish or Welsh. Every day’s a school day!! What about those islands off the coast of France – the ones the cows are named after – Jersey & Guernsey? Do they have their own names? This is fascinating to me…
      I would love to go back to Libourne and explore the whole Dordogne. Have you read or listened to any of the Bruno, Chief of Police books by Martin Walker? Takes place in the Dordogne region. Very light entertainment, but fun to listen to on a long car ride! And he’s always cooking so it makes me hungry!

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