Coucou – ça va ?
We only had the Tour de BLOODY France pass through our little town, so I thought I would let you in on the ambiance. I was a proper Tour de France virgin, having never even followed the competition on the telly before, and boy was it a blast! When the Tour last passed Mazamet in 2007, the streets were full of people. People love their road cycling here and it is the hometown of one of the most successful names of French cycling, Laurent Jalabert; needless to say, I had my hopes up for a great day!
The caravan was estimated to run through Mazamet from 2:30 onwards, followed by the leading riders and the Peloton around 4:15-4:30, giving us plenty of time to get settled. As my darling James is currently still hobbling on crutches, we took seats in our local, Café de la Paix, with a view to a giant screen showing the race and ordered up a bottle of rosé to share between friends and family… and waited.
By the time the caravan floats started trickling through, I was full of wine and benevolence, ecstatic to be cheering and waving at the passing carnival among hordes of bouncy children trying to snatch freebies thrown from the passing vehicles, their parents wishing to sneak a picture of their favourite rider and everyone else in Mazamet. I did observe some pretty unsavoury behaviour from a few adults, mainly frumpy middle aged men obsessed about snatching every single free promotional item thrown their way and not at all shy about tackling kids to get to them, but all in all, we had no problems finding places to observe the run through and enjoying the event. We caught a lovely pack of laundry detergent, sweets, biscuits and a few hats that got either eaten fast or donated to the keenest participant, but sadly not a single shirt. Debbie, from Debs World, did get herself photographed by the local press with her Tumba – Bloody – Rumba banner (made by yours truly), so it wasn’t all a waste.
And yeah, I do appreciate the effort and training that is going into finishing a race like Tour de France, but damn… did I enjoy the floats or what! The leading group whizzed by so fast you could have missed it if you blinked. I could not believe the speed these guys were travelling, especially knowing they were about to approach the most gruelling part of the étape, the climb to the Pic de Nore, the highpoint of the Montagne Noire. Peloton, the chasing pack if you will, was much more enjoyable to watch and akin to a flock of starlings or a school of fish for me in the way the riders rippled and moved as one unit. I could have stood there for hours admiring their efforts!
Tour de France 2018 was truly a treat for me. Although I am not the biggest fan of road cycling in the world, I loved the atmosphere of anticipation, the festive spirit that took over our little town, no matter how fleeting, and how excited we all were to welcome the Tour to Mazamet. AND that chicken float!!! That thing is my new spirit animal.