16.6.10

Tarbes

I always like to watch the Tour de France, which starts again in a few weeks time. If possible you can find me alongside the course at some point to see the cyclists. It's not only them why I like to see that race. It's also the anticipation of the people around me standing on the street about what's gonna happen. Sometimes you'll wait for several hours just to see the cyclists pass by in less than a minute.
I remember back in 1996 it was a very hot and sunny day in the south of France when the Tour de France took place. I was on a cycling holiday and only my cycling mate and me had plans to watch the Tour. The other participants of that trip choose to cycle that day on their own and climb some mountains (Hautacam, Aubisque, Soulor). Just for fun.
Anyway, my mate and I took our bikes and drove to Tarbes, a little town in the neighbourhood of Lourdes. We arrived at about 10.00 AM and the Tour would pass around 2.00 PM. So plenty of time to look for a good spot. We thought that standing on a corner would be nice and after a long search where the Tour would actually pass (nobody we asked could give us a solid clue), we posted ourselves on the corner of Avenue Francois Mitterand and rue Eduoard Dallas.
After about an hour our waterbottles were empty, due to the tropical temperatures, so we had to score some water. A gas station with the name "Station St. Christophe" seemed to be the right place for us travellers to fulfill our waterly needs. Alas, due to the passing of the Tour de France the station was closed...
A guy across the street noticed us walking with our empty waterbottles and waved to us, asking if we want something to drink. He offered us wine, being a Frenchmen off course, but we refused kindly by saying it was a bit too early for us to drink wine. We'd rather had some water. After filling our waterbottles he asked where we came from ("Holland", we answered) and then he asked if we would like to drink some beer with him. A cold beer is always welcome, so we followed him to his fridge. It turned out he only had two bottles of beer and being with the three of us made it a bit uncomfortable for him. His looked a bit disappointed, probably because he realised that being the host he had to give his beer away to two strangers from Holland. We saw him being in some sort of indecisiveness and suggested him to fill out the two bottles in three glasses. After this enlightend idea and some poor jokes about Dutch treats we almost missed the passing of the Tour.

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