. I whipped out the tent and turned it upside down where the tarp bottom could be used as a rain shelter. I laid it over myself and the gear and was actually able to get back to sleep. The homemade shelter turned out to work quite well. I woke up dry, along with my equipment, to a beautiful beach. I went for a swim and got back in the saddle for a day of touring the mountains on my way to Grenoble.
I spent the day driving through the mountains and hills and then decide to spent the night a hour or two outside of Grenoble. The campsite is off this tiny road and is just a grass area outside of this family's home. Two kids came out and kept talking to me in French and once they found out I only knew English, they kept saying "Made in America." It was entertaining.
I spend the next day getting into Grenoble, finding out what I need to do for the next days race, and where to stay. I learn I need to drive the 100 mile stage and camp at the spot where I would like to see the stage. I head out to the side roads where it will take place and drive along the most gorgeous and stunning route I've driven since Austria. It is about 6:00 in the evening, the weather is amazing, the roads and villages are stunning, and I'm going to get to see Lance Armstrong tomorrow! I stop at a small grocery store and load up on food for the evening and next day. I meet a couple from Utah that are in to see the tour and we decide to follow each other to the top of the mountain
. Along the way people have these caravans of RVs parked along side the roads of the flat spots. They are out partying, drinking, and painting the road with encouragement for their rider. The night is getting dark and the small road starts to curve and get more steep. There are areas of the road that are completely covered with trees and others spots where waterfalls are running right next to the road. We get close to the top and the view is MAGNIFICENT. I can see the mountain range to the west and the sun is setting right in between to peaks. You have to remember I am on a motorcycle and able to suck in everything around me from the temperature, the sounds, and the view. We then come up on the next curve and its starts to flatten out and to our right is a reflection of the amazing lake that the road raps around. They dammed up a valley on the top of the mountain range to a clear this crystal clear lake. We get to the top and of the mountain after several more curve backs (go right, curve back left, curve back right, etc). There is the flat area where several campers have pulled onto the grass so we setup camp and call it a night.
I awake to my tent being soaked through from the heavy dew and the sun shining upon us. I spend the morning going down to the lake and getting some homemade bread and hiking the perimeter of the lake. I can see clear to the bottom. We spend the afternoon meeting people from all walks of life and then.....
. the tour and parade starts our way. Before the riders come through, all the sponsors come through in their caravans and toss out a ton of freebies, like a parade. We then hear all the helicopters and see them come over the mountain range. We can see the riders coming up all the curve backs down the mountain. I get my camera and stretch my legs and before I know it they are upon us. I see the Discovery Channel crew and Lance right in the middle and take off running. I run beside them for a little bit, yell some encouragement, and off they go. It was an amazing thing to be a part of, especially since that was the leg he got his yellow jersey back, and the yellow jersey he kept until the final.
I spend the evening getting back down the mountain and spend the next 350 miles driving as hard as I can to make it as close as I can to Paris that evening as I can. Paris and Normandy to follow in next log!!
As the last entry left off, I was arriving at the beautiful beaches in northern Spain - southwest France. I packed up that morning and the lady running the campsite made me a wonderful homemade bread sandwich and hot tea. We spent a few hours trying to chat and get travel tips (me- very little Spanish,her- very little English), it was another fun experience. She told me to go to a small village that has a small tram which goes to the top of the mountain. The view from the top was amazing. You can see the country side and the wonderful beaches and ocean all from one single point. I spent the rest of the day touring small little villages and end up Biarritz, a wonderful beach town in SW France. I grab my MP3 and go walking the beaches and the rock cliff overlooking the inlets. It is an amazing sunset to top off a wonderful day. After dark I walk into town and grab a bite to eat at a local bar before heading back to my sleeping bag on the beach. Luckily I had taken the tent and gear off my bag to prevent it from getting stolen because it started to rain about 4 in the morning