Today, we got up and cycled into the Champagne region of France. Steve ended up with a group that got lost in a vineyard and ended up riding 56 miles. Today’s terrain was hilly and much more daunting than the previous flat stages. To ride day after day like this certainly give us an appreciation of what the Tour riders go through. We’ve been doing our 30 and 40 milers before today’s longer 56 while the pros ride more than twice of that and at a much higher speed.
We ended our ride in Reims, the Champagne capital of the world. We went with some of our new friends to a nice café, had lunch, shared an excellent bottle of champagne and an excellent Bordeaux red wine. Steve also ate steak tartare, and it grossed Marnie out. It looked a lot like raw ground beef with some seasoning and a little pickle relish. It may have been more than that, but Steve ate it all and said it was great. Maybe he rode so much anything would have been good.
We ended up watching the end of the Tour on a television at a bar about 1000 meters from the finish line. Today’s stage was very uneventful compared to the excitement of the last couple of days. We’re getting to the point of being tour vets, so the TV provides all of the minute details. But the excitement and bustle of the cities is still incredible, making each day another new adventure. The race was won by Petacchi, who also won an earlier stage. The big news was that Mark Cavendish, one of the greatest sprinters in the world seemed to run out of gas in the last few hundred meters to fall from first or second all the way to position 12. As for Lance, he seemed to cross the finish line unscathed, and we saw him chatting and laughing during the middle of the stage. Once again, those guys are amazing.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Epernay. More later. Our trip is coming to an end. As always, it gets a bit bitter/sweet. We’re ready to get home, ready to not live out of a suitcase in a different hotel every couple of nights, but on the other hand, it’s the Tour, it’s France, and we’re on vacation. Plus, you can’t beat a little Champagne.