We decided to pull the pin on the Ventoux and take everyone to Avignon instead.The clients enjoyed a free day while Ryan and I raced through town shopping for the train ride, returning rental vehicles and generally feeling like we were starring in our own version of the Amazing Race.
True Story: before the bus left, I announced to everyone that a good spot to find a screen to watch the Tour on could be found in Place Pie/Les Halles, and open air plaza surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants.A client complained to me that I had “promised open air but this place was full of people and establishments and thus I misled her”.I didn’t even have a comeback for that one.
Eventually we got everyone to the TGV and we were off to Paris.Ryan and I wisely loaded up on beer and wine and that made everything a little easier for us.We spent the ride playing bartender/waiter and it went by very quickly.
Once in Paris we split the group between our 2 hotels which overlooked the course, Le Regina and Le Crillon (where Lance and the OLN crew stay, including Phil and Paul).Another few hours of ironing wrinkles out of our plans, sorting out guests and generally putting out fires meant that it was a while longer before we could sneak off to our fantastic suite and pass out.
Night view from our room
On our first morning in Paris, we planned an early morning cruiser bike ride through the streets of Paris, including up and down the Champs Elysee. This was definitely a highlight for me, it was super fun and a great way to see the city before the mayhem really got underway.
We rode till about 11, and then Ryan and I snuck off to the “Breakfast in America” for a greasy pile of food.We made it back to our hotel, sorted everyone out with balconies and viewing points and watched the final stage of the Tour de France 2009 roll by our window.It was incredible!
We capped off the day with a dinner at the restaurant on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.What should have been a great send-off was marred by the fact that the restaurant RAN OUT OF FOOD but really?At that point, it just seemed fitting…
I spent my final day in Europe wandering the streets of Paris, visiting the Louvre and the Opera House, walking the Champs Elysée and sneaking down as many side streets as I could find to take it all in.The best part?I was all by myself.
All in all, it was a pretty surreal week.At times it felt like it would never end, at other times it felt like it flew by.I missed my boys terribly.I didn’t get to do as much riding as I had hoped but the rides I did do were fantastic.The stress of managing 110 people in VERY logistically-challenging conditions was hard on us.The fact that we were doing it on no sleep and less food made it all the more difficult.I lost 7 pounds (IN FRANCE.How is that possible?!)
I kept my cool throughout (despite 1 or 2 meltdowns…)I was even polite to everyone until the bitter end (except maybe when someone snatched a dinner ticket out of my hand and the Eiffel Tower without even looking at me and I was compelled to snap “you’re welcome!” and then mutter obscenities under my breath at him.)
Tour guiding may not be for me, but I am keen to go back and tackle all the routes again in better conditions.Anyone want to come?I can drive you around and almost guarantee I won’t get lost!