The Tour de France is now over, so I’ve been reminiscing about my one, glorious day in Ypres, where I saw the start of Stage Five. This was the stage Froome dropped out and I guess things went a bit down hill from there. Still, I had a great time. Here’s a couple of pictures for my friends who haven’t had the good fortune to visit a Tour stage yet.
We’d arrived in sunny Brussels the day earlier. The Belgian summer left me parched. By the time we got to the hotel room I really needed a refreshing beverage. Fortunately, they had ice cold coke for free in the mini-bar! What a stroke of luck!
Early the next morning we caught a regional train to Ypres, about an hour and a half away. Di was pretty excited. She really enjoyed the train ride through the picturesque sun drenched countryside. The carriage was mostly full of older Belgian men going to see the Tour. At one point an old man in Lycra got on with a Moser bike. People say old men shouldn’t wear brightly coloured, tightly fitting Lycra, but this guy was an exception. His Lycra was faded and greyish, and it was pretty stretched and saggy.
The sun was really beating down. I began to wish I had another ice cold coke. Fortunately, the stage start began in the town square, which was surrounded by impressive and historical buildings. I couldn’t wait to walk around aimlessly in the Belgian sun looking at them.
It was so hot I bought myself a little Garmin hat, both to protect myself from the sun and to show my support for my favourite team. It was very reasonably priced. Or at least I think it was – I was struggling with the dollar/euro conversion rates. Here I am waiting for the riders to sign on.
We were standing by the starting area, and all the riders would cruise past us on their way to sign on. The Belgian fans would then begin hollering and yelling with glee. Here’s French National Champion Arthur Vichot signing an autograph for an eager fan.
Di decided she wanted a waffle before we set out to explore. This kept her in a pretty upbeat mood whilst we walked around enjoying the Belgian summer for the next couple of hours. We saw a lot of stuff, although I had some trouble reading the map and we took a few detours.
Eventually the weather got too much for us, so we ducked into a cafe to enjoy some chips and beer. Di was getting pretty into cycling by this time, and even insisted on wearing my little Garmin hat. Shortly after this we had to head back to Brussels. I think Di would agree we had a pretty great day in Ypres!