Le Sport that is Tre Chic: by Ultimate Sports Wife, Nicole
I have never been a fan of the French: their freakish mimes, their high-carb baguettes, and their overall pretension. Therefore, this next statement requires me, significantly, to swallow my pride. The French may have the ultimate sporting event. Ok, I said it.
Maybe I am delirious, but I am still living in the afterglow that is the Tour De France.
Now, for every reason, it should have been a disappointing event. Given the recent drug charges and disqualifications of the top contenders, compounded with the retirement of the Tour de Lance’s own, Lance Armstrong, there was not much to anticipate. This event had none of the makings of an "ultimate" event.
The Tour started in Strasbourg, France-right next to the boarder of Germany- a town so confused that restaurants serve brats and escargot on the same menu and speak French with a German accent. Think on that for a while.
We traveled from the World Cup in Germany via train to this small town. The start of the Tour is quite ceremonious with a day of timed trials where individual riders tear through the town’s course with small clusters of crowds cheering them on. This timed trial phase is the perfect way to see each cyclist at their best.
We started the day early and took a short walk to the starting line. There is a flurry of activity yet the crowds are not nearly what I thought they would be.
Before the actual race begins, there is a crazy "parade of sponsors." We’re not talking Nike and Adidas here, but smaller companies and there are tons of them. We watched this corporate pageantry from the safe distance of a café over croissant and espresso. By, the time we finished the second espresso, it was time to watch the beginning of the race.
There are two starting lines. The first is where the riders begin to warm up and parade at a slow pace through the town of Strasbourg. The second starting line is where the cyclists actually begin peddling for time. We stood at the first starting line and at a steady, but swift pace, the racers were off- along with an entourage of support staff, supplies, and press.
After this, you have all day to wait for the cyclist to return to town. At this point, the world is your oyster. We explored the town, took pictures by the beautiful cathedral, shopped the stores, and stopped at the local market for wine, cheese and baguette. After all this, we ate, drank, rested and watched some of the Tour on TV to time our return to the course.
At 4 pm, we left our hotel and positioned ourselves on the last turn next to the final 100-meter marker on route to the finish line. The anticipation is excruciating. Fans, in bright biking colors and yellow Tour memorabilia. Only a short wait later, with an entourage of reporters flying around the turn and leading the way, the cyclists speed through the course only an arms length from us. I was leaning across the gate to video, and I swear they were heading right for the lens.
So, let me clearly explain my beginning statement that The French may have the ultimate sporting event. First, this event is one where you can enjoy many of the festivities from the comfort of a café-over a latte or two. Second, it’s over in seconds- not to emphasize the duration but the adrenaline of the event. (For you anti-sports folks, this may be a true plus). Finally, you can watch the race, and then take a gourmet break for wine and cheese for an entire afternoon (about six hours or so) and even sleep off your hangover.
Seems like this sports fan has to admit that the French have found a way to have sport and have it all...have their baguette and eat it too.