All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Paris and Le Tour de France - Part 3

After the race we all wandered off, in the same direction for a while, chatting about the day. Soon Clay had to head one way and Nadia and Hadyn the other, so it was time to say goodbye. These guys would be back or on the way back to Australia very soon, but it was great to see them again after so long and knowing that it will be while before we see each other again.

It was great to spend time with Kath and them, but I still had dinner to look forward to with my big sister.

Nik and I, being trigger happy slowed the return to the hotel greatly, so much so that Kath, trundle back by herself, don't blame her. It took us about 45 minutes to cross a bridge about 150 meters long. It is shown below and one of the ornate sculptures that adorn it.

Nik, Nadia, Hadyn, Clayton and Kath.

Nik and I meandered through the streets of Paris, relying on my inner pigeon to return to the hotel. Along the way we stopped at a cafe for a drink adn to soak up some more of Paris in the late setting sun.

The sun, wide boulevards (some tree lined) and the Parisian architecture and sandstone being the builders choice, allowed for some beautiful street scapes and a lovely feel of late summer to emmerse ourselves in on the walk. Streets such as these.

From here Nik and I made our way back to the hotel and got ready to head out to dinner with Kath, in the Latin Quater which is where our hotel was, we found a nice little restaurant just around the corner and a short walk from the Pantheon.

We ate our last meal in Paris together at the little cafe on the right of the pick below, before Nik and I headed off to have a look around the Pantheon and take far too many photo's of it, also shown below. Not to mention some of a church which the architecture suggests a number of after thoughts and different circa addtions, which make it quite a lovely church to view.


Pantheon Unusual Church

The final day would see us have a leisurely start to the day, with a late breakfast. Say good bye to Kath, who I will see when I travel home next year. Then Nik and I first heaed to Au Vieux Campuer to buy a few outdoor items and Nik to continue her annoying and frutiless search for a climbing harness that fits. The we headed towards Sacre Coure. On the way up the hill, we stopped for a relaxed lunch soaking up the last of our hours in Paris.

Then we headed uphill through the Asrtist District and to Sacre Coure. Whilst the history of the church is extremely interesting, the church itself does not match this in any manner was the feeling that Nik and I held. It was to say, it is like any other big church in its feel and although the architecture is vastly different to many, it is not as exciting or inspiring as we expected.

A trundle down the stairs and an experience with a grumpy restuaranteur and then a nice coffee at another cafe and we where heading back to the hotel and then Garde Nord and then home.

Paris always provides a lovely relaxed break away from the everyday life, right in the middle of a beautiful and vibrant city. Something I have only experienced in Amsterdam and Melbourne, thus far. I'll be back again.

Paris and Le Tour de France - Part 2

So Sunday morning would arrive and what to do about getting a good spot to watch the tour, we had all been giving varying advice, but the common theme during our discussions Saturday was get down early.

Well I am going on the record right now as saying, "As long as you get the right Metro station or are targeting a spot up the Champs Elysees, 10am will be more than early enough" Plus, you won't get moved on after finding the best spot to watch the riders dart across Place de la Concorde and right down your camera lense. Grrr!

Anyway, successfully relocated to a spot where we could duck out and get coffee and see the riders from both sides of the Champs Elysees and then the wait begun. Nik and I had arrived at about 8:30 as mentioned. You don't need to do this, many others had as well.

But now we all had got together and the crowd was slowly building, we had wisely bought food the night before and this allowed us to save a small fortune. Whilst we stood around and chatted, we were approached by a Sports and Travel writer from the Netherlands, Wiep.

We all had a bit of a chat to him, me airing a strong opinion about a particular subject of the Silence-Lotto team, which I have been following closely since before the start of the tour. But by and large the discussion was about all facets of the tour and what we had thought about the race this year and in particular, Kath and Clayton's views as they had seen a couple of stages.

Wiep left us after taking some pictures of a group of mad Aussie's and a suffering English rose ;-) and mentioning that he had rarely got to see the riders he had followed around as he always had to get his writing off to the paper back home. Which I thought was a bit harsh for him.

Soon the madness of Le Tour caravan would arrive, but to my surprise and Nik grave disappoint in relation to the Haribo cars, they were not throwing goodies out the cars. Kath and Clayton were kind enough to tell us about the things they had handed out on the other stages, cheers guys.
A Horny Devil

Not quite a tiger

The caravan was truly a bright and loud affair and as much a part of the tour as anything else we associate with it.

So much waiting around and watching (0n the big screens) the rider drink champagne and have a laugh on the way to Paris and then they arrived. Even though the tour had already been decided, there was still much to race for, line honors of Le Champs Elysees are a pretty big thing.

So there were some celebratory laps at pace and then it heated up even more, after 3000 odd kilometers and these guys were still so damn quick it was very impressive. But this made taking photo's near impossible. But I took many and some are shown below.

The peleton's crusing pace, notice the blurr?

CSC Train and Sastre, an awesome win for them. Well done Sastre and Co.

So I have finally made it to the last day of the tour, something I have wanted to do for many years, and what do I think. Well, I'll be back for more stages next year. I loved it I was so excietd and really enjoyed the experience.

Seeing the presentation and how happy these guys were to complete the toughest road race in the world, reminds you that they are just normal guys doing an absolutely amazing thing, which they have worked so hard to achieve.

Cadel, was still happy and looked a little relieved as they all did that it was over. Loads of Aussie were there to cheer him on to the podium, which was great to see.

Once the presentation was over we decided to head back. Don't do this, find your way back to the crash barriers and wait for the riders to do a slow lap, signing stuff and having there photo's taken. We had our reasons, but damn it!

We wandered away from the Champs Elysees, impressed and fulfilled at seeing the last day of a magnificent race, but I was a little sad as another July was over.

2009, Yell for Cadel!

Paris and Le Tour de France - Part 1

On the 25th of July I headed out to Paris to meet Nik, and see my sister Kath, who I haven't seen since I was back home a few years ago and a couple of mates. Clayton over traveling around Europe and the UK and Nadia and Hadyn, who had attended a conference then headed to Paris.

Nik, Kath and I arrived at our hotel at varying times, got settled in and then went to dinner, and Nik got to meet the first member of my family. (One at a time, she should survive this way, I think) ;-)

The next day we headed off to meet Clayton at Le Louvre and then headed off to pootle around and generally enjoy Paris. The best way to do this is certainly by the new cheap "Velib" system, which Clayton who had been in Paris for a few days introduced us to. Velib:

Basically, you put down a deposit, pay 1 euro for 24hrs and you can hire a bike for 30 minute periods at a time from a network of Velib stations around Paris. Whilst a great idea, not so great when your knees are still screwed from injury. next time guys, when I say my knees are screwed, guess what, they are!

Le Louvre

Anyway, on the bikes andof we set, first to a little crappiere (sp?), which was brilliant and hidden away from the tourist traps, then off up to the Opera area. A look around up there and then we all agreed that ducking into a bar to watch the final Time Trial of le tour was in order. We would also be joined by Nadia and Hadyn at this point.

Clay, Kath and Nik, Opera, Paris.

This would be Cadels last chance to regain the "malliot jaune" and win the tour. Alas, he did not, but he went down fighting a brilliant fight as he had done so through out the tour. Maybe next year Silence-Lotto will be a stronger team and can fight the strength and depth of the awesome CSC.

So Sunday would see us on the Champs Elysees with thousands of others to congratulate the teams and riders that had completed another grueling Tour de France and the winners of the different jersey's. More about that later.

So what to do in Paris, on a Saturday night.............mooch around, get changed and head out to dinner was the plan and a successful one at that.

We headed to a great little restaurant which Kath had selected to meet, Ruth and Ramaine, two friends of Clayton's that now reside in Paris.

The location of the restaurant was very Parisian and the food, wine and company fantastic. We took our time and enjoyed just relaxing and being away from the daily grind of our normal lives. Eventually we would decided it was time to leave and head back to the hotel for some sleep ready for a long day on the Champs Elysees.

Relay for Life

Back on the 19th/20th July, Nik and I took part in the Relay for Life as part of a team of friends and family in memory of those who have passed away from cancer and in support of those who have battled and won.

The team we had joined was Johns Plodders in memory of John Sanders, I walked also with the my Uncle Mal and a friend from long ago Paul in memory and in support of aunty Deb who won her battle, as well as well as John and the thoughts of so many others.

The Relay for Life occurs once a year with teams being formed for reasons as describe above to raise money for cancer research. It is a 24 hr relay event, where teams of any size walk, run or crawl around a track in relay fashion.

It provides the opportunity for folk who have been touched by cancer to work towards a common goal of providing the funds that help cancer research improve the quality of life of cancer suffers and find cures to the varying forms of cancer.

The event continues to provide entertainment through out the course and the opportunity to learn more about what is going on in the fight against cancer and the chance to meet some fantastic people, young and old.

There are games, raffles and other competitions such as the best fancy dress. Every Relay for Life has a fancy theme, where all teams this year had to choose a Musical and dress as chosen musical and complete the first lap in fancy dress. We chose Spam-a-lot and I went as a shrubbery. Picture below.

The fun and festivities continue for the whole 24hr's with more money being raised. This concludes as it starts with all the teams walking around the for a final lap (picture below), then the presentations and a brief talk from one of the supervisor of the Cancer Research labs being presented.

This was such a worthwhile experience and I will certainly being taking part again next year and hope that my pleas for sponsorship, also helped raise more awareness about cancer research.

All the teams raised a significant amount of funds and I would like to thank all those that sponsored me directly our who sponsored others.

Thank you all very much.