Bicycling Shus: Tour De France
In the past few years I have become really obsessed with bicycles, but to be honest, the Tour De France and professional cycling hasn't been a big interest. I would watch occasional highlights on TV for major races and YouTube the "Best of" whatever in pro-cycling (usually crash compilations or hair-raising mountain descents). No one I know watches an entire race on TV unless they are a fan and have a favourite team or rider.
This year, we were lucky to be living here in the Netherlands when the Tour De France began here. The first two stages originated in Utrecht, only 50 minutes by train from where we live in Haarlem.
STAGE 1: Utrecht Time Trial
We left Utrecht Centraal Station and wandered around somewhat disoriented as the city looked completely different from our previous visits. There were tens of thousands of people on the streets and it was a scorching hot day. We eventually found a spot to settle in and watched the blurred lines of each individual cyclist whiz by solo in the opening time trial of the Tour De France.
STAGE 2: Utrecht to Zeeland
For the second stage of the 2015 Tour De France, the riders departed from Utrecht to finish in Zeeland. The route took them there via Gouda and Rotterdam, the closest location to access from Haarlem being Gouda (yes origin of Gouda cheese!). On the previous day, I rode my bicycle from Haarlem to scout out a location along the race route from which to view the 30 seconds of action we would later see. This worked out well as we got a spot near a sharp corner and up a slight incline( there are few "hills" in the lowlands of The Netherlands").
This was truly different than the usual "TV experience" watching the Tour De France. It was a great community event, positive atmosphere and fun! We would go again should the opportunity arise, perhaps camping in the hills of France... wearing superhero costumes... and chasing cyclists up a hill screaming "allez! allez!" Who knows!?