Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trip Reflections: Tour de France in Barcelona (a year ago)

A year ago today I was watching the Tour de France in person, in Barcelona. Yeah! It was very exciting! This is me on July 9th last year, waiting for the tour to arrive. I got there early so that I could get a spot right next to the barricade.
It was WET WET WAIT so I took refuge in a little bar and had tapas and beer while I waited.
This shot gives you a sense of the locale where I was, as well as just how wet it was....

This guy's idea of rain gear scares me a little... I hope he poked holes for breathing!
A local newswoman files her story about the TDF's impending arrival in Barcelona. Not sure if she was speaking Spanish or Catalan. Note the shoes.
This was my favourite pre-race moment. This Robert Plant look alike wandered into the crowd, still drunk from the night before, with a bottle of wine in his hand. He was really very harmless, was having a good time chatting up the waiting crowd, but they eventually moved him away, as he really was a hazard to himself; he kept walking into the road. BTW, it was only some time afterwards, when telling someone this story, that I realized he was probably on his way home from Pamplona and the Running of the Bulls, as it was running at the same time, and they all wear white.
These cyclists initially cause a stir of excitement, but I guess they are test riders of some sort, out to check the course.
One is kept plenty entertained for a good hour before the arrival of the first riders with all the floats..... including horses! It was one of those floats that I got my red polka dot hat from (does that make me a queen of the mountains?)
Beer. Or something along those lines.
Finally, the Tour Director's car. That means the riders are close behind.
Here come the sprinters!!! I was on the other side of town from where the finish line was, so this would have been the teams setting up their lead-out men....
The excitement of a rider up close! Look at the faces of the crowd.
This poor fellow had a bike problem right in front of us. He got great encouragement from the crowd when he was finally able to get going again.
It's quite something to see the riders and cars and motorcycles all up close, all so close to one another.
These were the last two riders of the day, still getting an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd. Note the rain gear on the riders.... you don't often see that.
After all the excitement, I wandered by the arch and they had all these stationary bikes set up. I think it was a Livestrong event, where people rode these, while the race was going on, to raise money. Strange, but true.
This is the little bar I slipped into on my way home.... ah, the pleasures of a beer and a loo! And there I sat, planning my return in the morning to see the riders off....
On July 10th last year, once off the Barcelona metro in the morning, I got my fav breakfast: a bikini!!!! And there wasn't even rain.
Fortunately, the rain held off, and didn't have to wait too long until the Race Director's car went by the other way....
And in a flash, the peleton went by!
Really, if you blinked, you might really miss it! As this was the start of the day's racing, all the riders were by in a matter of minutes that you coulld count on one hand. Don't know why that surprised me, but it did! As you can see, they are already picking up speed.
This fellow was bringing up the rear...
Managed to get a few good pics of local watchers before the riders got there.... Click to enlarge this one... I guess no one was getting their prosthetics on time that morning!
Loved seeing these ladies out watching the excitement below...

The Tour de France really was one of my trip highlights... I can't believe how lucky I was that they went through Barcelona when I was there! I am a pretty big fan, and generally have a sleep deprived month watching coverage at 4 or 5 am at home - which I am doing this week. In Barcelona I didn't easily find English footage, so I was more distant from the specifics of the race last year.... but being up close and personal definitely made up for that.

I can't believe I never posted all this a year ago, but it says a lot for just how 'busy' I was and just how many experiences haven't made it to this blog yet!

It's nice to have these memories as I am watching the race this year ;-)


Philippine Travel Guide said...

nice set of pics and nice to see that you've seen and experience the tour the france in person. Too bad it rained.

Anonymous said...

..... TK said : "What fun" !!!

aldo said...

Hey Roberta, I work with the CheapOair travel blog ( and we're interested in having you guest blog for us. Please contact me if you're interested. Thanks! Aldo

Roberta said...

Hey Aldo, thanks! Will do.