Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Holiday

That's where we've been.

We've spent a week in the Pyrenees region, enjoying the lush green scenery - corn, sunflowers and spun-gold hay.

Quite different to the landscape here in Provence which is more vines, lavender and pine trees interspersed with sun-bleached rocky outcrops. 

Our week away tied in with the mister's big race - he participated in the Etape du Tour (an amateur event where participants ride one of the Tour de France stages before the professionals come through). The course was some 180km in distance and finished at the peak of Col du Tourmalet's 6,900 bottom-cramping ft. 

He knew it would be hard, but he was riding for Australia!

Some 10,000 riders started, but only 6,800 finished. And the mister was one of them (he was in the first half of all those who finished; I'm so proud of him!) 

It took him 9 hours. He's already thinking about doing it again next year *mumble negotiations mumble*

We took a car ride up to Col du Tourmalet two days later, but unfortunately couldn't get to the top as it was shut off in preparation for the Tour de France. But I did get to see the area, which was breathtaking. Perhaps unfortunate as those riders need all the breath they can get. 

A valley full of caravans and mobile homes waiting for the Tour

We also came across a kilometre or so of messages on the road as part of Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG campaign. A chalk robot prints messages of inspiration and remembrance on the road along the Tour de France route. 

Some offered general encouragement.

Others were personal messages to lost loved ones. 

We thought it was a clever and very touching idea.

We went to see the Tour de France when they passed a town close to where we were staying. We sat on the side of the road for about 40 minutes and when the TV helicopters appeared we knew they were close. The four or five riders in the lead flashed by, followed by the main peloton 10 minutes later.

Here they come...

And there they go. 
(Complete fluke - but that's Contador, the eventual winner, there in his yellow jersey)

I'll get in trouble for saying this, but it's much more exciting watching it on the telly.

It was amazing the huge number of support vehicles following behind - must have been close to a hundred cars and motorbikes. 

More to tell about the holiday, but I must get back to sewing for now. The inbound baby I mentioned has made his appearance 4 weeks early. Mum and baby are fine and hopefully his blanket will be finished within the week!

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