Pez-Pass Day 1 – Live In Lyon
Ladies and gentlemen – Pez is in the building! Live at the Tour is where I am, to be exact, and the frenzy is in full swing! Iimage landing in the middle of your favorite amusement park and not knowing which ride to try first… That’s how it was yesterday afternoon when I landed in France.
I hit the ground in Lyon, and 2 hours later I was inside the official “salle de presse” at the stage finish, sipping red wine with a stupid giddy grin on my face wondering if I was dreaming. I had finally made it! Are kidding me?- you bet I’m excited! I’d left Vancouver some 14 hours before at 4:00 PM, and literally flown through the nite to get here. Now I was standing on the ground in the middle of what I have been watching on tv while sipping my morning coffee since the Tour started. See – that’s me waving at the camera right by the finish line as Petacchi takes his 4th win… I’m the guy in the hat- no the other hat…
Getting to the finish line was easier than I thought, and I only had to convince 1 gendarme to let me through the blockade as I had yet to pic up my press credentials. As soon as I parked and began walking the 3-4 km to the finish, the tv helicopters appeared overhead, signaling the race was approaching town. Talk about an adrenaline rush as I ran jogged walked in 90 degree heat to find the finish before the race did!
This is just some of the huge amount of stuff you get with official Tour credentials.
It’s even more crazy than you can imagine from tv – especially the publicity caravan that precedes the race by about 20 minutes. Watching fans clamour over each other to grab some promotional trinket is pretty comical. That being said – I did manage to nab a very cool neck-strap thing…
There are no grandstands for fans at he finish line, so everybody just pushes up against the barriers – basically to see a blur at 65kph. Thank God for the jumbotron.
There are tv trucks and promotional trucks parked everywhere, I spotted Phil Ligget in his commentary booth just above the finish line, and then headed for the press room. In Lyon it’s inside a huge domed arena, basically covering the whole floor. It’s divided into several areas for lo- and hi-speed internet connection- and they’re charging 90 Euros a day to use a hi-speed line -! The ASO knows a thing or two about turning a profit.
About half the floor is set up with rows of tables covered in laptops that all the journalists use. It really fills up right after the finish, as everybody scrambles to get the day’s story written and sent to their editors.
I bumped into – by fluke – our official PCN race photographers Roberto Bettini and Beth Schneider here. Roberto still hasn’t learned English (I keep telling him his English-speaking fan base is getting big!) and Beth needs someone to drive her car on the Gap stage as she’s on the moto that day – any takers?
After that I still had to drive 90km to Grenoble to hook up with folks from Experience Plus Tours – who I’m staying with in the Alps. Everything had gone so well, I finally hit “Factor-X” and missed a turn that took me about 40 minutes out of my way. No biggie, but after all the non-stop excitement, I was ready to get settled. And showered. It’s amazing that the human body can create such stench after only a few hours w/o bathing…
The view from my room at the Hotel Mercure in Grenoble.
Luckily, I found the Hotel Mercure in Grenoble no probs, and bee-lined for the shower – even I couldn’t stand myself! It’s a great way to start a trip like this – being in a modern hotel with comfy rooms, a pool, and everything you’d expect at home. If you’ve travelled in Europe you’ll know that accommodations can hold many surprises! Experience Plus is doing it right – we’re in one spot for 4 nites – a perfect alpine base without the hassles of moving every night. Today the group of 20 (just the right size) is being shuttled to see the race pass by in Aix-Les-Bains, before having the option to ride up to 130km back to the hotel – a nice tune up for tomorrow and Alpe-d’Huez.
Get more info on Experience Plus and their great tour offerings at their website:
And I’m off to build up my bike – until tomorrow – this is The Pez signing off…