Small to big to small.

The day before yesterday the stage had finished at Luz Ardiden. After we watched the finish on TV, we drove to Bangneres-de-Luchon for one night. This way we could have either an easy flatish ride for some and a hilly ride for a few of the more hearty riding appetite. Unfortunately a few of us staff had to stay at another hotel as the nice hotel the Champions Club stayed at was small and thus full. There was a bicycle touring group there also taking up the remainder of the hotel. They had a larger group than ours. It looked like they had at least 40 or 50 guests/riders.
After yesterdays dinner we went to the main road in this small but quaint town. Many of us were a little tired, but in need of hydration. So after a few malt beverages and some old grape juice, I had to walk around. Not far from the watering hole we were at was a small Disco. The place was small and pretty much uninhabited. So, I walked around some and for some reason, I headed back in to the Disco. I was hoping it was gonna be busier but it was a Tuesday in a small town, so I was fairly sure it would not be happening this night. We’ll it went from 2 people on my first visit to about 12 on my second visit. I had to stay to see the local nightlife even though I knew it was not to be tonight. Geert came in just after I did so we hung out and chatted and watched the others dance and goof off.
This afternoon after the ride the staff packed bikes and luggage and were to drive about 5 hours to the Dordogne region in the even smaller town of Tremolat. We had planned on leaving by 5 but I could not go till about 7:30 because we had to drop off some loaner bikes some of our Champions Club members had used. Because of that, I arrived at this way too cool Castle like hotel after midnight. I was supposed to stay at a B&B down the street. Again due to the size of the hotel and the rooms available. But the &B had mixed our reservations and we had to stay at the Castle. Lucky our group was to arrive tomorrow so the hotel/Castle was not full this night. My room was huge. I could have had a party for at least a dozen friends in my room. But alas it was not to last. The plan was to be here for two days and do two nice rides in the area. So, since our guests arrived, I got pushed back to the B&B.
I’m starting to understand a few things that are testing me here in France. First off is my lame ability to speak French. I took it so many years ago, I had thought I was going to go crazy understanding any at all. Well, it is coming back sort or quick and I am starting to feel comfortable. My conversations last more than two sentences now.
The second thing is driving around. Dan our interim GM at Tailwind sports and I were talking once. We had talked about traveling and how I liked Italy. He in turn liked France. He has been here each year for about 7 or so years and each time for a whole month in July. He is fairly comfortable driving and said it was sort of easy. He told me the blue signs were fast roads (like Interstate HWYs) and green signs were for slower roads (rural highways). Well, I learned the letters relative also. Blue roads are fastest and are usually a letter “A” (Autostrada I think) followed by a number. Green roads are sort of fast and are usually a letter “N” (National road I think) and then there is “D” the slowest/smallest roads. You usually see the sign for the highway entrance AND direction but then, that designation gets really small and on top of the direction sign when you are actually ON the road. So, basically you need to know what direction you are headed. Pick a big city on your route (past where you are actually going) and head direction Paris (for example) on the A71 EVEN if you are going to Orleans (south of Paris). It changes to the A 10 even though it basically the same highway. Wacky! So head for the city and not the highway number folks! I’m starting to understand things and feel more comfortable getting around.
I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of a top secret bike Lance was about to test. Yes, he was going to test ride in on his rest day in the middle of the tour. I actually got a chance to test it myself. 🙂


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.