You never know how you’re going to feel after a rest day. Sometimes you feel refreshed - other times you’re not quite sure why you’re still going. I’m sure the riders feel the same way, which would probably explain why a few pulled out of the Tour today, ahead of Stage 10.
After a few unpleasant experiences over the past 10 days, we started putting what we had learned into practice. Firstly - don’t stuff around. Just get to where you want to shoot and avoid the delicious lure of the Tour village at the start of the stage. Secondly, make your enemy your friend. In our case, use the Tour caravan to our advantage and score some goodies.
With these two ‘knowledge nuggets’ in hand, we left our apartment well before the Tour caravan, got to our first spot and had a nap. We soon awoke to the sound of top-40 tracks blasting from the floats in the valley and we got out of the car.
Earlier in the trip, I had speculated to Speedy that I believed the Tour caravan staff make up games to pass the time and stave off boredom. Games such as how many kids they can hit in the head (bonus points if they make them cry), how difficult can they make the merchandise to get at, or how accurately they can land loot onto challenging targets.
By the time the Tour caravan had passed, my beliefs had been confirmed. Most of the goodies ended up under cars or in the creek next to them, there were a couple of kids howling, and some of the more skilled staff had managed to flick stuff straight into our boot. We had quite the haul, but not enough detergent or Haribo made it into our McCain bags or Skoda hats.
It wasn’t until after the Tour caravan had passed that we realised we now had an hour to wait - in the shade and wind at the highest point of the Tour - for the riders. But at least we weren’t stressed.
Instead of shooting the finish, we went for the last climb of the day, a relatively tame Cat 3. Once the riders disappeared, we made a move to get out of there before the roads clogged up. I had spotted a dirt road that ran next to a lake and joined up with the road we wanted to make our escape on. It soon turned out that, while there was some temporary parking allowed there, the road was actually a walking path and we very sheepishly headed back towards the main course and, eventually, our hotel.