Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Tour Of London, Kent, And, Oh Yeah, France

Those of you who pay attention to sport know that the Tour de France came through London and southeast England this weekend. Mrs. Werbenmanjensen and I went down to look around at some of the festivities surrounding the prologue stage on Saturday and then staked out a spot alongside the road on Sunday in Woolwich, an unfamous part of Greenwich that is undergoing some restoration around its old arsenal and artillery barracks. This is where some friends live, who decided to host a Gallic lunch following the tour's passage.

Some comments:

1. London is probably the biggest town the Tour has ever been in. So the prologue was mobbed on Sunday by a greater-than-usual density of hardcore cycling fans, casual fans, tourists and locals who just wanted to see what was up. After crossing some poorly planned pedestrian routes from St. James Park to Hyde Park and battling crowds along the way, Mrs. W and I more or less gave up. It was better to watch it on TV. This is my basic theme when it comes to cycling fandom: It's better to watch it on TV.

2. This event proves to me that London cannot handle mass events. The foot traffic was poorly managed and inadequate information was given to spectators. When I mentioned this to our Sunday host, a London native, he pointed out that the London authorities were trying to also manage Wimbledon and Live Earth along with the Tour prologue, and that's a fair response. But imagine how many such events will be going on during the 2012 Olympiad. Fair warning to all who plan on coming for that.

3. This weekend may have been the longest extended dry and warm period we've experienced since April. You'd think I'd be happy about that. However, I'm not. Why? The week before Sunday's Stage 1, I cycled essentially the same London-to-Canterbury route in an organized ride with thousands of others. Except the difference was it rained much of the day. I paid £50 to ride in the rain. The professional cyclists get paid thousands, sometimes millions of Euros to do it. It's their job. They should have to do it in the rain, too.

4. The publicity caravan is kind of fun. My favorite bit of swag: A refrigerator magnet from La Vache Qui Rit.

4. Bicycling is much better to watch on TV.

We have a few photos. Maybe we can all talk Mrs. W into posting them.

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Blogger zeditor said...

Oh, good. I was hoping for some commentary from the Smit-meister, since he's no longer in the office to engage in "Tour Day France" gab with. Thanks for the on-the-scenes reporting.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

No story about your black eye?

3:18 PM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

So, Smitty, who do you favor to win?

1:08 AM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

No clue. Pereiro, Sastre, Vinokourov (if he makes it to the starting line today), Leipheimer, Valverde, Evans, Rogers, maybe even Moreau.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

Rasmussen!!! This is finally a rest day so I can go online to find out what's happening in the rest of the world. Of course, I sorely miss Phil and Paul today.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

If he can stay on his bike. :)

8:22 AM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

Well, yeah, that's a problem. But if he can get, like, a 20 minute lead before the time trial, he's got it made!

4:48 PM  

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