Gendarmes are the French Police. Unless you actually have to work tracking down hooligans who throw tacks down on the route of the Tour de France, this might just be the best job in the entire force. Can you imagine getting paid to ride a motorcycle up and down empty mountain roads all over France? Not too shabby.
After the hike up, people spray paint cyclist’s names on the pavement, picnic and hydrate (and perhaps search for a place to pee).
Then, you wait for the caravan to pass through and wait again. Since the waiting gives you time to enjoy incredible natural beauty and talk with other cycling enthusiasts, it is actually a lot of fun. Soon, the helicopters will stream over the horizon like in the movie “Apocalypse Now.” We hiked up to the mountain to a beautiful spot with a great few of both the mountains and the road leading up it. We weren’t the only ones who liked the view.
As the bikers climbed up toward us, the advance motorcycles with photographers on the back stopped and swarmed our spot. The motorcycles always have expert drivers. The photographers and cameramen hang off the back, performing seemingly dangerous feats to get the shot. Unfortunately, when some pootyhead spread tacks on the roadway two days ago, one of them was seriously injured.
With their giant lenses, they were able to get much better shots of Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky streaming up the mountain.
Normally, the first thing you see roadside is a breakaway group of riders. They are usually accompanied by police and cameramen (who you can see in the back). Usually, they follow one another. Having a rider in front of you reduces the wind resistance allows them to expend less energy. This gives the peleton incredible power if and when they choose to exert it.
This is how they get pictures for TV. By the way the US commentators are better than the French ones. Understandably, French commentators are biased toward French riders. It’s not that. They are much less interesting and I learn a lot less from them. They don’t seem to show much of a sense of humor either. Thankfully, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen do the British coverage we get here in Switzerland, but I miss Bob Roll.
Eventually, the last of the team cars go by and the helicopters move on. After than, there isn’t much left to do except descend the mountain and watch the stage you just DVR’ed.
Just in case you didn’t know, I’m famous. It is clearly me there on TV with the Detroit Red Wings jersey.
- How To Get On A Mountain For The Tour De France (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- The Spectacle Of The Tour Caravan (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- Checking One Off The Bucket List – On A Mountain At The Tour De France (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- The Tour de France: a guide to the basics (telegraph.co.uk)