In exactly one week I will be in London, for my second Olympics.
I know, it’s not like I’m competing or anything. Far from it. Instead, I’ll be soaking up everything Olympic right in the middle of it all for the first time since Sydney in 2000.
However, I’ve been very far away from the Olympic fever which has started to sweep the globe. The Spanish are still talking about Euro 2012 and the Italians are still whinging about it. The French, however, had another thing on their minds. Le Tour. Yeah, that one, the one we know as simply the Tour de France.
I would be lying if I said that I grew up watching Le Tour. I didn’t, rather it grew on me over the years. If I was home, flicking channels and I found it, I would watch it for half an hour or so. I’ve always liked Phil Liggett’s voice. But I’m not the type to stay up until all hours for weeks on end to watch it.
That was probably why I had no idea until just a couple of days ago that my day off in Paris coincided with the final day of Le Tour. But, being the sports nut that I am and in desperate need for an Olympic warm-up event, off we tottered down to the Rue de Rivoli yesterday afternoon.
Back when I watched the Amstel Gold Race, I was able to view the race on the telly, wander on down to the end of the street, cheer with my flag, and return to the house to do it all again later. This time, we got a good little possie across from the Tuileries Gardens and waited.
And got thirsty. And waited.
And got suburnt. And light-headed. And waited.
And began to get cranky.
While we waited (for over two hours) we were treated to the strangest parade I’ve ever seen. It consisted solely of sponsors’ floats, with people singing and dancing atop. They didn’t do anything – the only one that gave us a taste of their product was the water sponsor, which sprayed us all with hoses.
Uh-huh. Thanks Frenchies.
Finally, the cyclists showed up. Zip, zip, zip. I saw a flash of yellow, a lot more colours, and then nothing again.
The crowd cheered, danced around, and snapped photos wildly. Then shut up again.
We did the same. We watched three more laps then wandered along down the street towards the Lourve. All of a sudden, we weren’t so hot any more, and we got even better views – especially when Paul got a bit creative and had a bird’s eye view (by climbing up a column).
The cyclists had spread out a bit by then and it got to the point where you could actually spot individuals. For one lap, it was solely one group. The next time around, about eight minutes later, a group split away from the pelaton. Eight minutes later, the pelaton ate the leaders again. It was fast, exciting, and you knew millions of eyes were watching what you were seeing in the flesh.
It did the job. It certainly got me in the mood. Bring on the Olympics!