Day 20 – A rest day – Alpe D’Huez (Tour de France stage 20)(Alps)

We had all woken up by 6:30 trying to sort out our stuff after last nights drenching. Willy (the American member of the German party) told me he had been shovelling water from his tent with a wine glass as if trying to prevent his ship from sinking throughout the night. Assessing the damage to my own tent. I could see that the pole had snapped. Someone suggested we walk into town to warm our bones and grab a coffee. Without hesitation we all quickly agreed it was a good idea.

It was nice to feel human again and were soon laughing and joking in no time. Ralph said that if he saw Lance come past, he would throw piss at him

We got back to base and got ready for the race to come past. It took a while for the sun to reach us, due to the mountain we were sat at the foot of which was blocking her out.

When it eventually did, we were all once again on full tilt holiday mode. I had intended to make my way up to watch the race, but I was still feeling a bit delicate and had great company where I was, so I stayed put.  They introducede to coke beer, which is apparently a great way to ease yourself back into drinking. I trusted their judgement (they were German beer drinkers after all)

As the caravans for the race started to head our way, we all turned into little kids, scrambling to pick up the free junk like children (taking my total of hats up to 9)

Then the race came. Once again, I was excited to be seeing my heroes up close, doing there thing. I scrambled along the crowds, heading up hill towards the 1st turn taking as many photos as I could.

I saw some guys handing out bidons and saw the opportunity to get myself some new ones, as frankly mine were getting beyond disgusting. Straight away an Astana one was lobbed at my feet.

I saw Andre Griepel (the German road champion) heading my way a cheekily teased him with one of my new souvenirs, with the sole intention of getting an action shot.

Approaching a member of the Team Sky staff next, I asked for any remainder stuff he had left once all the team had passed.  He was a genourous man as I got a load of energy gels, food and a free bottle again (a new front wheel was out of the question through)

It all seemed to pass so quickly and for me, the tour was over for another year (I can’t wait to actually watch it on YouTube when I get home)

Willy, Ralph and the gang had to make a hasty exit (and quite rightly) before the 4 million spectators came down from the mountain to clog up the roads, like the fat of the arteries surrounding the heart of the worlds fattest man. We quickly said out good byes and then once again, I was all alone. 

I headed into town to get myself a new tent. After trying 6 different ATM machines, my card wasn’t playing ball. FUUUCCCCKKK!!!!!  I called the bank and they told me it should all be working meaning the card was fucked. 

Now stressing, that I only had 50 euros and the cheapest tent in town was 69 euros. I would have to wait around till Monday till the banks opened again. 

I went and found my old faithful and managed to make some sort of makeshift fort. I pulled myself together and summoned up my years of watching Bear Grylls knowledge (it wasn’t that bad)  and make myself am abode for the next 2 days. I was just hoping for no more storms. I know I’m making this out to be a lot worse than it actually was, as there are far worse places to be stuck)

As I got myself set for a night of chilling and soaking up my surroundings, I noticed some dude chilling a few meters away with just a backpack and a hammock slung over his shoulder. He was a Bulgarian hitch hiker called Ivan. A couple of seconds later we were joined by a couple more hitch hikers. This time they were Dutch (Bas and Robin). We all agreed to hang for a bit and exchanges tales. Soon deciding to go check out the waterfall round the corner the Germans had told me about

As we made our way there, we were handed a free beer each, from the local vendors getting rid of the last of their stocks. Things were already looking up. We continued on and were soon at the waterfall. Deciding that we were going in, we all got naked and jumped right in. Robin started singing some Beatles (Should have known better) and I joined in. He looked at me and said “dude, we will be good friends”

It was crazy how much fun I was having considering 30 minutes ago I was feeling down on my luck.

I had forgotten about ally worries and had agreed to join them on a hike up the mountain until it got dark. When it eventually did, we said our goodbyes and wished each other luck. I followed some cars on the way down to maximise my visibility by using their headlights to my advantage. I got into my tent and stuck a podcast on and was asleep by 11. 

“Always look on the bright side of life”

-Monty Python


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