This has been one of those days that you just can't make up, and it all happened because of "thrown together" banner....
So everyone knows we're in Germany, yeah yeah you're tired of hearing it I know.... and most of you who know me know I'm a cyclist.... Germany + cyclist + July = ?? anyone? .... anyone? ... Beuller?...
Yes it's the Tour de France! Today was one of the closest stages to us, Stage 13 from Vittel to Colmar, with the starting city only about 350km away. So I took a day off and Joe and I planned our day, up early, off to Vittel, see what we can see and then go out on the course somewhere and try to get some good shots of the peloton. We had our cowbells and an American flag - and no bodypaint.....
Then late yesterday the girls and mom decide it would be a good idea to "throw together" an Argyle banner, Julia worked until nearly midnight on it and I think it's just awesome.
So Joe and I get up this morning, pack up all our necessities and head out for Vittel, including of course our fabulous Argyle banner. Why Argyle you ask? Well that's easy, because I am simply a huge Garmin Slipstream Racing fan and they wear Argyle, right down to their socks.
The drive was uneventful, though we did have some torrential rains, and we arrived in Vittel almost 2 hours before the start, and about 15 minutes after the beginning of the caravan departure. The caravan is way cool, it's a parade basically of all the different race sponsors, and it precedes the racers by roughly two hours, handing out candy, water, treats, etc., sort of like a really long (200 km today) parade but without any marching bands.
So we watch the caravan and then head towards the starting area, with our ultimate goal being the team bus area, to see if we can get a glimpse of the boys.
There was already a pretty good crowd around the start, but it would get bigger before it was over.
Then we got into the bus area, of course there was the Astana bus - no we didn't get Lance's autograph, but we did see him ride by, I might even have a picture of his helmet around here somewhere.
Then we saw other buses of course, Lampre, Cofidis Bbox, Agritubel, Quik Step (they get pic since they ride Specialized) , Caisse D'Epargne, Saxo Bank (another Specialized team)
So then after we watch the Saxo Bank bus go buy we look and here comes the Garmin bus!
Amazingly, it parks directly in front of Joe and I and then the team cars pull in, go figure the spot we'd pick to stand and watch the buses roll in would be the spot where the bus for my team would park, what are the odds? So we grab the Argyle banner from the backpack and drape it across the barricades so the argyle is facing the bus. Next thing I know this nice guy (Dr. Allen Lim) walks up and asks us about the quilt, and I explain that my wife had made it the night before for us to bring down. I asked if the boys would be doing autographs before the race and he said probably not. Then he paused and asked "you want to get that autographed don't you?" Of course I replied yes, so he contemplated for a moment and then said, "I can probably do that." And off he went into the bus with the quilt - and the super sharpie I just "happened" to have handy. A bit later he comes back with the quilt, with the autographs of all 9 riders! Oh, and a couple of camera crews, one was a nice guy from Garmin documenting the tour and the other three were from Versus! So we told them about the quilt, and they filmed it from several angles. A few minutes later Joe was interviewed by a crew from The Daily Show!
So then the boys all mounted up, and headed for the starting area, we did likewise, with Joe wearing the Argyle like a cape. Of course we picked up some more schwag along the way, took shots of the riders, and commiserated about Levi having to withdraw. Then after the start we did an evaluation and decided that with all that had happened the day had nowhere to go but down - so rather than chase the peloton through the course we decided to head back home, a good choice it turns out as the stage was rainy and cold all the way into Colmar.
So we had a great day, a great adventure and the experience of a life time. An Argyle kind of day all because of a "thrown together" argyle banner. Who knew? I think maybe Argyle is where it's at. :)