Friday, July 4, 2008


The second day is dedicated to general preparation and recon. After breakfast, however, the first thing we do is play tourists and take in the atmosphere of the place. Pau is a great little town, amazingly green, with a remarkable Chateau where Henry IV was born. As the legend goes, his father right after birth touched his lips with garlic, which made him grimace, then with a drop of the Jurançon, the local, sweet wine, which made him smile. A true king was born. I would have liked more the garlic perhaps roasted on a tartine and accompanied by some red St. Emilion, but on the other hand I'm definitely not that in favor of monarchy.

After lunch I pedaled to the Pau Hippodrome, which hosted the Welcome Village for the Etape. A welcome made of music, blinding sun, and lots of extremely expensive bike accessories: definitely a step up in quality and three steps up in price from any US cycling event. It's hot and humid, and this makes the 50 kilometers recon that follows not entirely pleasant, making me worry about riding in the heat for day of the Etape. Following the advice of local cyclists I explored the first few crowded miles of the course, including the surprise turn and climb at Rébénacq, notorious for claiming unsuspecting victims in group rides. Aside from the heat and humidity, nothing seems out of the ordinary, and I can't wait to ride all this without the obnoxious traffic and diesel exhausts that accompany all my ride.

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