I stopped by chance at CYCLES DANIEL PLANAS (un pro à votre service: 41, Rue Castetnau, Pau, 05 59 27 50 42). A former pro and all-around nice guy, Daniel kindly checked my bike and fixed the play in the fork my hasty assembly of the headset had left. I ended up spending more than an hour in the store, meeting local cyclists, chatting and learning more about the Etape, its pièges, tricks and tips for the ride. One ocean and some away from home, it was very nice to feel so welcome and to meet other cyclists ready to take on the mountains.
And the cyclists are coming in droves: yesterday, the small plane that took us from Paris to Pau was full of them. All looked like your average Joe, until the baggage carousel started unloading a dozen bicycle cases for rouleurs of all ages and fitness level. Cycling is in the air here, even our chubby cabbie wen on about the Etape, the roads and expectations for Sunday's event as well as the imminent start of the Tour de France.