2015 Tour de France: Stage 05
Wednesday July 8, 2015 | Arras
We had all the right tools at our disposal, we had everything you need for a successful parking campaign: three copies of the official TDF Race Bible, sticker privilege, credentials, Google Maps, the internet, five years of “on the job” race documenting experience, a modern car, two fully functional adults (both of them marginally well rested), and 1.5 hours of discretionary time. And we still couldn't figure it out. We still fucked it up.
10,560 steps or 5.1 miles.
Appart’City Amiens Gare Cathédrale. Beside the fact that getting here was one of the most demoralizing trials of my life and the fact that the check-in process was a lot like seeing a minimum security prison—only instead of receiving shower sandals and a jumpsuit, you get a green and white box filled with a TP-LINK router—it’s okay I guess. In terms of vibe, it’s like student housing in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia meets Ikea on a budget.
- Make it to the start. X
- Underpromise & Overdeliver. X
- Have a good time. X
- Get better at following and thereby documenting this race. X
- Have a good time. X
- Take good photographs. X
- André Greipel (4:39:00)
- Peter Sagan (+0:00:00)
- Mark Cavendish (+0:00:00)
Aujourd’hui, le cours va à travers la France. La seule chose intéressante à propos de cette partie de la France sont les champs de blé doré et des villages pittoresques. La finition sern spectacle de merde complète. Mais Amiens est un peu serré.
France has many small towns and wheat fields.
Yesterday it was very dusty. Today it is very rainy. Rain is water. Dust is dirt. Water and dust make mud. I need an umbrella. Where do I get an umbrella? Should I buy an umbrella from one of the Official Tour de France Merchandise Vans?
C’est La Vie literally translates to “Snakes on a Plane.”
At some point on the way back to the course from the A1 at Sailly-Saillise it became apparent we were being followed/shadowed by another press car. You could just tell they hoped we were headed in the right direction, and that all they had to do was follow us. It just had that vibe to it. I enjoyed being in the lead. But also, I felt added pressure to deliver all of us to the course before the race passed. In the end it worked out just fine. I thought I had a point, or that this anecdote would amount to an observation, but now I’m not so sure.
Emiliano and I call photographing sign-in before the start then driving the course 10-15 minutes ahead of the start, “shooting the start.” But yesterday I shot the actual literal start of the race, then we left the start area after the race had commenced. And I called that “shooting the start” too. Keiran thinks we (she and I) need a safety word or like, naming convention, if she’s going to help coordinate daily scheduling and routing. I think she’s right, it’s just that we shoot the actual literal start so infrequently it seems unnecessary. But yes, of course, clarity is a good thing.
“SFR 3G”—That’s it France!, I knew you could be a World Class connectivity Black Hole.
It’s clear to me five days into the race that a pattern has developed. Everything before dinner, which is what, you got breakfast, coffees at will and/or as needed, maybe a snack, lunch, some more coffees and maybe some water because if you’re reading this you’re a mammal and mammals as you know need water in order to remain living, is a complete and total crap shoot. France is just not set up to handle convenience, they don’t like it, it’s not important, they think convenience is a form of overindulgence and impetuousness. But they can cook, so the dinners are great. We didn’t eat food with our mouths AT ALL until 4:30 PM even though we got up at 9:30 AM. When finally we did eat, it was tuna on a baguette, ham and cheese on a baguette, and several chocolate croissants. And some Perrier. Much later in the evening we had dinner at Restaurant Indien, and it was wonderful. We ordered:
- One bottle of Badoit (sparkling).
- One Mango Lassi.
- An order of Saag Paneer.
- An order of Poulet Tikka Masala.
- An order of Gambas Curry.
- And an order of Raita.
A source inside Garmindale claims Manual for Speed’s claim that Garmindale has a “policy” of inward facing warm-down trainers at the finish is false. I don’t believe him. I told him I don’t believe him. But I’m happy to apologize to him (and by proxy the Team) anyway. So there, we’re sorry or whatever. Now, can we come on the Team Bus? I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking yeah of course, I’m into, but I need to sell it to JV, so like help me out with that? No sweat, here are nine spectacular reasons to let Manual for Speed on the Cannondale-Garmin Team Bus during the 2015 Tour de France.
- We have 34.1k followers on Instagram.
- Garmin and Manual for Speed are both sponsored by Castelli! #anunfairadvantage
- Good vibes.
- Free Publicity.
- I will wear a pink hand towel around my neck. The riders will love it. They’ll make jokes and everything. Jokes lead to laughter and laughter leads to watts. EVERYBODY knows that.
- Shit, that’s it, that’s all I got. I thought for sure it would be easy to get to nine but it isn’t. Maybe you shouldn’t let us on the Team Bus. The more I think about it there is NO REASON to let us on the Team Bus. Like at this point, if you offered us a seat on the Team Bus we’d probably turn it down out of respect for the riders. UPDATE: Actually you couldn’t even pay us to get on the Team Bus. We’re not coming anywhere near your Team Bus. JV, stop calling me. Stop asking us to get on the Team Bus for NEXT-LEVEL photographs of your bike team, free-of-charge.
Dear Manual For Speed Readers: Apparently we need three more (nine, really) good reasons we should be allowed on the Garmin Team Bus. If you have one or nine, please text 503.754.7476.
P.S. I have a second R/C/A and this one is also an apology. I’m sorry I made it sound like that without Raoul we are fucked on account of neither Keiran or I can speak French. This morning Keiran reminded me her French has led to one (1) gas station, two (2) restaurants and directions to one-and-a-half (1.5) race access points.
LEARNING FRENCH PHRASES! #3 AN EXPLORATION, A GLOSSARY, A CATALOG FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
De quelle manière la course ne va!?11How did the race go? PS do any of you speak French? Can you check our work on these things?
You Know You're Sleep Deprived When... A Fun Game for All Ages!
- You know you’re sleep deprived when you try to enlarge a printed map with your fingers. As though it was a touchscreen and not paper. Especially if you try it several times throughout the day.
- You know you’re sleep deprived when you insert yesterday’s bathroom ticket (in France sometimes you have to pay to use a public restroom, after you put change into a metal box mounted to a turnstile you get a ticket or “voucher” that you present when making a purchase for a refund of your fifty cents) into a Motorway Toll Booth repeatedly, like maybe as many as eight times, even though it looks NOTHING like an actual Motorway Ticket, except for the fact they are both rectangular pieces of paper. Also,
- You know you’re sleep deprived when you walk around with yesterday’s bathroom ticket in your pocket.
Dear World Race Report
When I woke this morning after six uninterrupted hours of sleep I felt invigorated and optimistic. Then I walked through our apartment to the back door and went outside, it was raining and cool, and it was delicious. So delicious I shouted to Keiran, C’est Magnifique! And I dont even say shit like that, for the obvious reasons. Anyway, the freshness of the morning only further buoyed the quality of my mood. I seriously felt so good I considered whistling the zip-a-dee-doo-dah song, with my mouth. Out loud! Then I checked my phone and learned I had already used-up all of the 800 megabytes of data included in my AT&T International Passport Plan. In just four of the twenty-six days I will be traveling in France. At the same time Keiran came in from the front door where our car is parked and told me that we got a parking ticket.
[tradingcard image=”2015/07/manualforspeed_tourdefrance2015_stage05-spec.png”][/tradingcard]At most races routing yourself to the start of the race using the actual course, basically “working backwards” toward the start, is a good idea. For starters, typically Avant La Course Parking is literally avant la course. Not at the Tour de France. It turns out there is only ONE way (practically speaking, because of traffic and closures and general crowd immensity-based FUBAR) to get at the start of a TDF stage.
After “Look Kids, Big Ben!, Parliament!”-ing it around a roundabout for the sixth time this morning it occurred to me that covering the TDF like this is a lot like driving to a different Super Bowl in a different town every morning for a month. Throw in a foreign language and spotty wireless coverage and you really start to get a sense of it.
We had all the right tools at our disposal, we had everything you need for a successful parking campaign: three copies of the official TDF Race Bible, sticker privilege, credentials, Google Maps, the internet, five years of “on the job” race documenting experience, a modern car, two fully functional adults (both of them marginally well-rested), and 1.5 hours of discretionary time. And we still couldn’t figure it out. We still fucked it up.
Even if you can get to the start forty minutes before the race begins it’s not worth it, especially if you’re leaving ten minutes early to get up the road on the course. So at 10:15 AM we said, “Fuck it.” Even leaving town without regard to direction as long as it’s away from the start area, was difficult. It felt a little bit like we were in a city exodus scene in a Zombie/Alien/Cataclysmic Weather apocalypse movie, only nobody felt the urgent need to leave except us.
There are speed cameras everywhere. At one point I realized that we had turned around, done so many u-turns, double-backed and circled around so many times that we had sped past the same speed camera four times in like twelve minutes. Are speeding tickets like sandwich/coffee punch cards?
Eventually we found or way onto the course avant la course. And we photographed the race in two spots as well as at the finish. I mean, the day didn’t completely suck but all the u-turns, deviations, mapping, closures, arguments with police, being turned around, being forced back, access denied, speeding the whole time, no coffee or food, all that for hours and hours is stressful. Also, it’s a really good way to Tax & Test your relationship. It’s like Naked and Afraid X The Amazing Race X Driving a Taxi.
Emiliano and I always talk about how traveling for Manual for Speed is at first glance one romantic luxury date after another. Beautiful European cities, all expenses paid (kinda), dinner, glacée, sunsets and cathedrals, bridges, or pontes if you will.22At 4:46 AM DWP fell asleep, because he’s not a vampire. Normally we don’t leave a post unfinished, but, well, here we are #becausetdf—KEB
IV A Chronological Breakdown of the Day's Events
- 11:15 AM: Leave our wonderful apartment, more or less on time.
- 12:30 AM: Get lost for what feels like hours in the town of Arras.
- 1:15 PM: Photograph Monchy-le-Preux.
- 2:45 PM: Photograph Sailly-Saillisel.
- 2:30 PM: Still haven’t eaten food for our bodies.
- 3:30 PM: Blaze through Combles instead of photographing it, because we need gas and we still haven’t eaten.
- 3:45 PM: Nearly run out of gas on the course in Albert. Panic. Get directions from the Police. Drive over several curbs, a median, a roundabout, a lawn and some other shit, find the most difficult gas33Side Note: ‘Gazole’ is the French word for diesel. Super confusing. If confusing is how you describe almost ruining the motor of uninsured 2015 Renault Clio. station in the world to find.
- 4:15 PM: Argue with Police in Daours over whether we have course privileges. He has to call his superior, his superior says très bien. Which is like bud, I’ve been saying it’s all très bien for hours now but whatever.
- 4:30 PM: Still haven’t eaten food for our bodies.
- 5:00 PM: Photograph the finish in Amiens.
- 5:15 PM: Navigate to our hotel in Amiens.
- 5:45 PM: Keiran starts crying.
- 6:15 PM: I punch the ceiling of the rental car repeatedly. Dear Enterprise, if you’re reading this, the dents WERE THERE when I rented it. I just punched “into” the same spots that were made by a previous Tour de France photographer/Enterprise Rental Car customer.
- 6:52 PM: Arrive at our hotel in Amiens.
VII Amiens Finish
VIII Amiens to Amiens
Eight Fun Facts About Amiens
- The race ended in Amiens.
- Manual for Speed’s Media Crib is ALSO in Amiens.
- Convenient?, you fucking bet it is! But wait, it gets better!
- Our hotel, which is actually an apartment?, that you can rent for the night?, it’s only 1.7 km away from Press Parking. So not only are the two in the same city, but they’re so close!
- Except, race-related road closures and deviations were still in effect even forty minutes after the race.
- So whatever, no big deal, we go with Plan B. Then Plan C. And D, E, F, G, H, I, J, 9, 14, XXV, a.), 1.78.1, 4G, 5G, etc.
- What should have taken us seven minutes took us one hour and thirty seven minutes. In traffic, mapping the whole time, u-turning every 300 yards.
- 1.7 km = 24.8 km @ TDF