The Tour de France passed through the Greater Daglan Area this past Tuesday (July 11), leaving lots of residents happy, and a bit fatigued. We were among them. For my wife Jan and me, it was our fourth personal encounter with the TDF.
Stage 10 on Tuesday consisted of a relatively flat and fast 178 kilometres from the département capital of Périgueux to Bergerac, passing through Sarlat, La Roque-Gageac and Beynac, just to name a few attractive places near us in Daglan. Here is a taste of our encounter with the Tour, up close and personal.
Our location. After much thinking and scouting, Jan and I had decided to position ourselves, and our group of friends, just beyond the bridge that crosses the Dordogne River at Vitrac Port. The Boys, as the riders are sometimes called, would be swooping down from Sarlat, headed for Domme, and we figured we’d get a good view. Here’s our picnic site, in a grassy area just below the road.
Most of our friends in our group — Kathy and Keith, Rosemary and Richard, and Elisabeth and Gerhard — had ridden their bikes from Daglan, while Jan and I drove my car, loaded with all our food, supplies and chairs. Here’s our travelling squad:
Our location had seemed relatively remote, but as time went on, the spectators just kept coming. Here’s a look at some of them, lined up beside the road, waiting for the action to begin:
The picnic, and passing time. We had to leave Daglan early on Tuesday (roughly at 9 a.m.) to get to our site, before the roads began to be blocked. And when I say early, I mean early — the Caravan and then the cyclists weren’t expected to reach our site until the afternoon.
Chatting amongst ourselves, and with other spectators, and drinking a variety of wines (sparkling, still, white, rosé, red) helped to pass the time. So did enjoying an excellent picnic lunch, organized by Jan. She had made the cold roast filet of beef, served with a creamy sauce, and the poached salmon. Rosemary contributed the cole slaw and the desserts, while Elisabeth had made the potato salad.
Here’s Jan, proudly wearing the yellow jersey purchased from the official TDF site, setting up the picnic for us:
Our disappointment. One of the best things about watching a stage of the Tour in person is the Caravan — a long string of vehicles promoting a wide variety of companies, products and organizations, often with freebies that are thrown to the onlookers. This is particularly popular with the young, and the young-at-heart. Sadly, we were badly short-changed this time around.
The problem is that after passing our site, the Caravan had to climb up to the village of Domme, perched on a hill, and featuring incredibly narrow streets, plus a relatively narrow and low stone entry gate. So to avoid getting stuck, the biggest vehicles in the Caravan — and typically the ones with the best goodies to be thrown to the crowd — skipped our site.
Instead, we got a few cars, and some of the smaller vehicles, like this one:
A few of the vehicles did chuck things into the crowd, like ballpoint pens. In this photo, our enthusiastic friend Elisabeth celebrates her capture of a pack of pens:
The waiting game, and the singalong. After the severely weakened Caravan passed us, we all had a good long wait until the actual race arrived. To help pass the time, several of the spectators in our area decided to sing, and many of us in the crowd joined in.
The leaders were a group of Welsh men who sang such standards as the Welsh anthem, Delilah (the Tom Jones classic), and the Do-Re-Mi song from The Sound of Music. And here’s the leader of the Welsh group, in action:
Helping to motivate the group, and provide some direction, was none other than our ever-enthusiastic Elisabeth, shown here in action:
The cyclists arrive — and leave. Finally, the actual race arrived, starting with a group of two cyclists out in front (typically called the “breakaway” group, in cycling circles). Here they are:
And then, in a rush, the rest of the cyclists blow past us, following the breakaway group:
After the fly-past, we had lots of time to pack up the car, and wait for the long lines of traffic to clear, before heading home. Jan and I had left the house at 9 a.m., and arrived home at 5:30. Such is the attraction of the Tour de France.