Monday, March 21, 2011
Tour de France 1998 ( Photo here )showed me how much publicity can be garnered for "Disabled Sport" by riding the Race Route of the Various Cycle Tours !
With this in mind i drove towards Paris but the car packed it near Charleville M. so had to take to the bike the rest of the way . Pitched up in Nangis on the friday night and did some cycling around the area in the morning before heading into the centre of Paris looking for the next day's ITT parcours .
On the way around i spotted a sign about the "Assembly Nationale" hosting an exposition about the internet and since it was about freezing decided that the warmth would be a good idea . Floating around inside with little French i warmed up and as i was about to leave some "personages" were being shown around so decided to introduce myself .
"Hi i am Skippy from Sydney, here to "publicize Handi Sport " at the Paris-Nice "! in my stumbling French but the "personage" replied in English "Welcome to France and the Assembly Nationale , i am Laurent Fabius and a member of this chamber of the Government ". Well the conversation went on for a little longer with me being offered an escort to see the rest of the building and an offer of refreshments later which was appreciated . During the Tour i saw a lot of the areas that most do not see and was told that "M.Fabius had been the Premier of France in the mid 90's" !
This reminded me of my visit to the White House in the 80's when a Secret Service agent got us into parts of that tour that were generally off limits to the public and also my first visit to the NEW Australian Parliament Building in 1988 when i bumped Paul Keating in the book shop and had an invitation to see some of the "Behind Scenes" areas of the House and Senate . Later i sat in both these areas and phoned various friends around the world whilst sitting in the leader's seat in each chamber .
From the Assembly Nationale i cycled the ITT route then headed back to Nangis on dry but freezing roads . Not easy to cope with the french traffic on a saturday evening in early March .
Sunday i made my way back into Paris and the weather was not much better and hanging around the edge of the Time Trial was not the experience i had been hoping to enjoy.
Monday in Nangis was Wet and Wintery and wandering around the teams seeing them suffering the same conditions did little to lift my spirits for the week ahead . In those days few of the teams had Pullmans so they were sitting out trying to pass the time as comfortably as the weather would allow . Spoke to a few of the racers who were amazed that i was going to attempt the ride in those atrocious conditions dressed as i was in bib shorts and wet rain jacket.
Took off about an hour before the race and after about an hour and half had to stop at a bar as i was shaking so badly . Ordered a Brandy at the bar but since i could not pick the glass up , one of the patrons held it for me as i tried to get the brandy down my throat . Result was a few of them bought me additional Brandies whilst the steam rose from my clothes and i recovered somewhat . When i got going again the weather had cleared a little and i arrived at the roadside lunch that the organisation provided for their Guests just before the Peloton . Seeing me at the table a buch of the racers rode off the road and grabbed handfuls of food on the table display and took off down the road . I was left with little to choose from and a few of the Guests were also dismayed with the little left to choose .
Link to the 1999 Paris-nice story and some details:
http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/results/1999/mar99/parisnice99.html#riderYou may ask what this has to do with the "TourdaFrance" ?
Simply put i have been re reading "It's not about the bike" and having reached the part where Lance quit the 1998 Paris-Nice i thought it worth reminding ALL just how difficult the conditions were in France at that time of year . No doubt he was not the only racer that suffered that day and there were others that continued who would have liked nothing better than to stop .
Also this morning i saw Lance's Tweet about "dusting off his bike", noticed it had no decalls from "LIVESTRONG" and particularly without the "riding for xxxx" decal which needs to be sorted ! Link here :http://lancearmstrong.posterous.com/dusted-off-the-ol-bike-and-going-for-a-ride-i
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Posted by Skippy mc carthy at 1:16 AM