The bad granny and the boys in spandex

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So my post last week was unexpected, and interrupted AGMA’s travel blog from her trip to Europe in July. I’m back in the swing of things now!

But rest easy. This is the third and last (keyword being last…) travel post. Then it’s back to the normal AGMA nonsense.

So in my last travel post, I was in Provence and had a mouth full of creeping crud from my prednisone. Remember?

From Provence, we trekked to the Principality of Andorra high up in the Pyrenees Mountains between the boarders of Spain and France.  You have to REALLY want to visit Andorra to get to Andorra. There is no easy way to get there.

And I REALLY wanted to visit Andorra. We were going to watch Stage 9 and 10 of the 2016 Tour de France.

Cyclists in spandex! My kinda creepy obsession…

I went to France in 2013 for the last week of the 100th Tour de France.  It was electrifying. I was hooked and have been trying to get back every since. Long suffering and patient Hubs agreed to take 3 days out of our trip to fuel AGMA’s creepy obsession.

What a guy.

We watched the cyclists on Stage 9 on their way up to a rain and hail filled finish from the comfort of the Andorran village of Ordino. No rain or hail 18K from the finish. My cowbell got a real workout.

And I found the perfect TdF T-shirt for my 20 month old grandson (pictured above.) Might as well get him indoctrinated early to his granny’s creepy obsession right?

The next day was a rest day. Normally, when I’m watching from home, I hate rest days. AGMA gets bored with no Tour to watch. But I loved the rest day in Andorra.

Rest day = cyclist stalking day.

The cyclists don’t really rest on rest days. They go out for a 2 to 3 hour easy ride in the morning so their bodies don’t freak out from no activity. They have to keep the engine running so to speak or it will shut down. And that’s not good.

Armed with my list of team hotels, I went in search of my favorite cyclists. Unfortunately, AGMA left our hotel too late to catch the teams going out for their rides, but I knew I had a chance of catching them when they got back.

AGMA went after Team Sky, a powerhouse cycling team based in Great Britain, and the team of two time TdF winner Chris Froome. He was also in the lead of this year’s TdF (with the yellow jersey) after Stage 9.

He went on to win the whole tamale this year and got his 3rd TdF win.

After waiting over an hour, the team finally came in from their ride. All but Chris Froome. The cell phone cameras went crazy. Mine included. Sadly, I lost most of those pictures the next day due to a smooth move on AGMA’s part.

I hate technology.

The fabulous thing about being a cycling fan is access. You get nearly unfetterd access to world class athletes like no other sport. You can just walk up and start talking to them and/or you can take a selfie with them and/or get their autograph. They looked tired so I opted for an autograph.

AGMA is a bad granny.

Instead of getting autographs on the notebook I brought, I got out my grandson’s cute TdF shirt, looked at the cyclists with pleading eyes and said, “Can you sign this for my grandson please?” How could they say no?

They couldn’t.

30 minutes later, Chris Froome finally rode in in his yellow jersey. The access thing doesn’t always apply to the yellow jersey – the teams tend to be very protective of their big “stars”. He pretty much stayed away from the small crowd of stalkers, but he was close enough for AGMA to get some great pictures. Most of which I lost.

He finally came up to the small group of remainig fans and signed a few autographs. I gave him the doe-eyed look and said, “Mr. Froome, could you sign this for my grandson please?” And he did.

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AGMA is a bad granny.

I have no intention of giving that T-shirt to my grandson. His parents have no appreciation of cycling. They might actually let him wear it. The horror!

AGMA’s going to wait until he gets older. Hopefully, with my influence and that of his uncle – my cycling crazy younger son – he’ll become a cycling fan too.

Then he can tell the story of how his crazy, cyclist stalking, spandex loving Nan met the best cyclist in the world and got his autograph for him.

It was a grrrrreat trip!

Oh yeah, after Andorra, we went to Lourdes, France which was amazing, then onto Pamplona, Spain for the Running of the Bulls which was insane. Totally insane!

We spent the last night of our trip, July 14th, in Barcelona before we flew home the next day.

July 14th is Bastille Day in France. The Tour de France went through Provence that day and up Mont Vonteux. Chris Froome actually RAN part of the way up due to a freak accident with a moto that crushed his bike. Nothing like that has ever happened in the TdF.  It was crazy.

It was also the day of the horrific attack in Nice that killed 85 innocent, peaceful people who were enjoying being out with friends and family, celebrating Bastille Day. Let’s hope that nothing like that ever happens again. It was beyond crazy.

AGMA went to bed that night incredibly sad, but determined to continue traveling. We can’t let this type of evil frighten us, and keep us from sowing the seeds of peace and understanding all over the world. If we stop traveling, the bad guys win.

And we can’t afford to let that happen.

Australia in November anybody?

Off again

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Cycling: 101th Tour de France / Stage 15 Illustration Illustratie / Peleton Peloton / Lavendel Flowers Field Champs Veld / Landscape Paysage Landschap / Tallard – Nimes (222Km)/ Ronde van Frankrijk TDF Etape Rit (c) Tim De Waele

AGMA’s off again.

Off key, off kilter and off balance. Yes all of that, but off as in so long, farewell, auf weidersehn, goodbye.

ROAD TRIP!!

Well, it’s a road trip that starts with a plane ride.

Actually it started with a plane ride. Due to the fabulous miracle of technology, I’m scheduling this post to be published after we leave. Right about now we should be ass deep in a lavender field in Provence.

Nice image.

Hubs and I are on one of our most ambitious trips yet. Ambitious not in distance traveled or mountains ascended but ambitious in the variety of experiences we’ve scheduled into less than 2 weeks.

Honestly, it didn’t seem that bad when we were planning it. Now that it’s staring us in the face, I’m sort of wondering what sort of mushroom we ate that night.

Tapas and touring in Barcelona, the markets, wine and gastronomy of Provence, the thrill of the Tour de France in Andorra, the holiness of Lourdes and the Running with the Bulls adrenaline rush in Pamplona. In 12 days.

We’re freakin’ nuts.

But as AGMA has been so clearly and soberly reminded of late, she’s far closer to the end of the race than the beginning. Might as well go for the gusto while she’s still on our feet.

Wasn’t that an old beer commercial?

And did you happen to catch the Tour de France part?

AGMA’S GOING BACK TO THE TOUR DE FRANCE!

Did I say that too loud?

It’s all part of the not Aging Gracefully schtick. A relatively normal, middle class 60+ American grandmother to 1.5 children chasing up and down mountains in Europe after world class male cyclists in their 20’s & 30’s wearing spandex.

It’s difficult to explain this late in life obsession so I’m not going to even try.

But thank God AGMA has a late in life obsession.

Something to be passionate, enthusiastic and joyful about. Something to look forward to so much that you feel like you can’t contain your excitement. Something to make you feel like you’re 8 years old again on a summer night in June chasing lighting bugs.

I’m pretty sure the lightening bugs weren’t wearing spandex.

I know plenty of folks my age who feel that, for whatever reason, that kind of joy, enthusiasm and passion is meant for those younger, and not them. And I think that’s incredibly sad because it’s absolutely not true.  Like most of what The Donald says.

My amazing younger son is continually rolling his eyes at me. When I became a massage therapist at 57. When I started my blog at 60. When I ran my first marathon at 61. When I put together my first Tour de France fantasy team last year. When I started my little eBay business a few months ago. When I asked him what kind of a tattoo I should get…

My Lucy and Ethel schemes.

He also is very proud of how AGMA is navigating the choppy waters of later life. He told me so a couple of weeks ago. That felt pretty damn good.

And, if the truth be known, he’s responsible for starting me on the cycling obsession AND the marathoning. But that’s another post.

Behind every successful AGMA is an incredibly supportive son who is also a BFF.

Don’t you love it when you can make your own best friend? It’s just that you have to wait 32 years until they blossom…

It was worth the wait.

So while Hubs and I are picking the lavender out of our crevices and enjoying the discount Euro thanks to those wacky Brits and Brexit, throw caution to the wind and do something that will get your pulse racing and give you a devilish gleam in your eyes.

Please.

Look for AGMA on the TV coverage of Stage 9 of this years Tour de France this Sunday, July 10th. I’ll be the lady in the tall red and white Cat in the Hat hat with the cowbell (gotta have more…), the yellow TdF shirt and the green, yellow and white leis around my neck.

Seriously.

With the racing pulse and gleam in her eye.

Viva la Tour!