Tour de France 2011 – Stage 15 – St. Geniès de Fontedit

Sometimes watching the TdF live is more about the spectacle and atmosphere than the race itself. It was certainly like this on Sunday, when Shoko and I made our way from the Pyrenees to the tiny village of St. Geniès de Fontedit, north of Béziers. Why St. Geniès you ask? This is where ‘Aussie Steve’ (to distinguish him from fellow blog buddy ‘American Steve’) and his wife Julia have bought a village house. It’s great to meet virtual friends in person, if for no other reason to confirm that they are real.

Well, Steve is real – real Australian! You’ll know what I mean soon enough, but first here’s our stash from the publicity caravan the day before – most of which ended up in the garbage, except for some madeleines in my stomach and a bottle opener in the kitchen.

After a nice lunch with Steve, Julia and The Moms they pulled out the Down Under paraphenalia that we were encouraged to wear for the Tour. Here I am modelling my Aussie apron and big hand that is both upside down and right side up (I’ll let you figure that one out, but it was an obvious error in construction).

The Moms, led by Steve and Julian, on their way to see the caravan.

Attracting the free-stuff hurlers.

Steve, increasing our chances of getting things by positioning himself on the opposite side of the street.

A lull in the action. Check out the pile of crap on the sidewalk we already have!

After 30 minutes or so of this the caravan passed us by to throw dried sausages and lens cleaners at the villages down the road. Steve, Shoko and I walked a bit to scope out a good spot to see the riders on the outskirts of town, before heading back home to watch a bit of the Tour on the télé.

Here is an example of what makes the Tour de France so great. The local community has gotten together to make a giant bicycle of some sort that makes no sense from ground level, but looks pretty neat from the helicopter shot. The sign in the foreground sums it up nicely – Crazy for The Tour.

Something else, although I cannot say exactly what.

The Moms, after our rest, getting into the spirit again.

Then the escape group came through.

And the peloton shortly after. All we have are blurry photos, so Ill spare you. It was pretty quick, especially compared with the slow slog of the stage the day before. Luckily, what was lacking in riders was made up for in good company…and TV! We made our way back to the house and caught the last 40 km or so, Cavendish finishing at the complete opposite end of things on this day.

Lastly, I leave you with a some fellow bald legs. Steve is a relatively recent convert and now can’t stand it when his legs get ‘dirty’. American Steve…you will join us. It’s only a matter of time.

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12 thoughts on “Tour de France 2011 – Stage 15 – St. Geniès de Fontedit

  1. Lucky you taking in two stages. We hope to catch two in the Tour de Limousin in August. That’s a pretty impressive race, but obviously not on a TdF scale. Hope you got lots of the Cochonou sausages!

  2. I could see myself standing for hours to catch a glimpse of some riders. I could see myself wearing oversized fists painted with my nation’s flag. I could even see myself walking about in a yellow umbrella and comparing my collection of recently-received (and soon-to-be thrown away) caravan goodies with those from other fans. But walking about with shaved legs? Only if I’ve lost some sort of VERY serious bet!

    Very interesting post, as always. It looks like the Tour will come down to the final few stages. I sincerely hope someone not named Cantador wins.

    • OK, it seems it will take a little bit longer for you to convert. We could always bet on the results of this Tour. You win, I grow my hair back for the winter; you lose, get out the clippers!

      My heart wants Evans to take it this year and he’s certainly in the best position. However, if Contador is healthy I’m not sure if anyone can stay with him on a real serious attack. The Schlecks will be lucky to see a podium place now, unless they can work some magic today or tomorrow. This is the closest Tour I can remember – top 8 places only 3 minutes apart. Something will break today, I’m sure.

  3. If you are going to throw away a hat, maybe we can work a deal!! How fun to get to see an event like this, even if it is for only a few minutes. It looks like all the extra things make it more special.

    • In retrospect I could have saved them for chain rags – I don’t like to throw things out, even if they were designed for the garbage! And yes, it’s quite the experience, and always slightly different, depending on the type of stage and the place you choose to view it.

  4. Well back in Oz now, and Jerry and Shoko, on behalf of all of us, thank’s again for sharing an amazing day with us at St Genies de Fontedit!
    The best part about the tour is that everybody can participate in something that is huge, and it is also an opportunity to be a bit crazy and do something that you would not normally do….well in public anyway!
    It was surprising to see Gerry knock over old people and children in his vigour to get his hands on the sausages when they were being thrown about!*
    Now for the serious topic of legs! American Steve, To celebrate an outstanding Aussie 2011 TdF achievement, and in the spirit of raising the stakes in your quest to resist the temptation of what you know is correct, There is a G E N U I N E as exhibited at the 2011 TdF Australian flag piece of merchandise on offer to you when Gerry receives photographic evidence of your legs being cleansed!! The rest is up to you now : )
    * Gerry really didn’t knock anyone over for the sausage, but there could have been a menacing glimpse in his eye!

    • Steve, it was excellent meeting you and the family as well. And please apologize once again to your moms for pushing them out the way – I lose my head when I see those little saucissons coming.

  5. Well, as one of the Mums (note the spelling!) who was threatened by the menacing glint in Gerry’s eye, let me tell you it was a delight to meet Shoko and Gerry and share one of those occasions when you nearly disgrace yourself in public…but all in a good cause.

    All the best,

    Judy Hardy-Holden

    • Hi Judy,

      Yes, I seem to have lost my Canadian spelling over the years. ‘Mum’ has turned into ‘Mom’ – I blame it all on spell check!

      I hope you had a good trip to France. If nothing else, you now have some war stories to tell your friends back home!

      Best,
      Gerry

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