While enjoying a melanzane that was almost going to be my 3rd pizza in as many nights, I received a message from Xavier - I was going to be on the moto again for Stage 14. After a day in the sun and not enough sleep covering the ITT, I was apprehensive to say the least. But in the end, how could I refuse? Being a photo-moto in the middle of the Tour de France feels hella rad.
Today’s start was supposed to be a fair bit later than yesterday’s ITT, so there was time for me to head to the temple of outdoor goods, Decathlon, for a bit of retail therapy. Of course, this detour was destined to blow up in my face - otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it. As it happened, we got caught in heavy traffic on the way to the start. It was at this point that I saw an email from media-man-extraordinaire Fabrice informing us that the race would be starting earlier today as they were expecting high winds and therefore a later finishing time. Egad. With only minutes to spare, we pulled into a car park. I threw on the same cursed jeans from Stage 11 while Speedy got my cameras ready. I sprinted and made it to the moto just as the peloton was clipping in.
With a new stage came a new driver, Laurent, who seemed to get the photography aspect more than Moto Mark. He was keen to zoom past the peloton so that I could get the shots I wanted. It felt like I was part of the peloton, allowing me to get some more intimate and spontaneous photos. While I was within earshot of the riders, I’m pretty sure I heard them talking about me - but I couldn’t work out if what was being said was good or bad. It may have been more obvious if my leg hair regrowth was showing. Still, I was pretty excited to be so close to the superstars of the cycling world.
While I was setting up for a shot at the side of the road (we had sped ahead so we could pull over and stop), Laurent came over to me with a sandwich and a bottle of water. I don’t know what his coffee making, photography or story writing skills are like, but Speedy now has some competition!
As it happens, the riders weren’t the only ones to recognise me. Joe from California spotted me in the slow convoy of media cars escaping the finish and said hi as we crawled out of town. Not long after, in the corridors of the Formula 1 hotel, a lovely Belgian couple grabbed a selfie or two with me.
If you see me lurking around Le Tour, please come up and say hi since I have some stickers in my musette and I love meeting fans. Also, if you manage to get a photo of me in some wild or dangerous location, please tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #WheresBeardy - there’s already a bit of a collection going.