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Hey all,

I'm arrived home alive and in one piece from my 2 week trip to Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels. I had a great time and thought some of you might like to see a few of my pictures from this year's Tour. You will may have to cut and paste the URLs into your browser to view the photos, but hopefully you can just click on them.

The first thing you must know about attending one of the grand tours is that proper attire is required at all times near the course.
That stunning young buck is yours truly, WBuffettJr, standing on the Champs-Elysees about 4 hours before the Tour comes through – complete with the Texas Flag as a cape (which was a big hit), a Livestrong shirt (an even bigger hit), a yellow Tour umbrella (my umbrello jaune) and a tasty French baguette in mouth. I ended up trading my flag (which had flown over the Texas capitol) for an English flag (not the UK flag) and made someone's day. I met an English woman and her husband who despite being as English as could be were apparently huge Lance (and America) fans. The husband was wearing a US postal jersey, and they had an American flag hanging on either side of their English flag on the guard rails. The wife just couldn't believe I wanted to trade her -- I think I made her year. She took my address and insisted she send me a box of items that would make the trade “more fair” for me. She couldn't stop hugging me! My Livestrong shirt was also very popular, and several people wanted to trade for that as well. I directed them to And yes, I am looking a little portly there as a result of my 6 month, 40 pound bulking regimen. I plant to drop another 15 pounds by the Roses in October.

We showed up on the Champs-Elysees a few hours before the tour was to come through. We actually got a great spot that was just 1 row of people back from the railing. 500,000 people were estimated to have shown up. On the 6th of the 8 laps the riders make, a very generous man offered to switch spots with me so I could try and get a few shots of Lance, as he noted that I am “probably the bigger fan.” This was truly an awesome experience. I meant to buy him a beer afterward, but after the race ended I never saw him again.

The parade started about an hour and a half before the riders came through. It was a lot of fun and there were some great floats; The beer trucks were pretty funny, and it helped pass the time waiting for the riders.
You could quite literally feel the anticipation building in everyone as the riders got within 5 km of the Champs-Elysees. I speak a little French, but the two announcers began talking so fast with excitement that I could no longer even cherry pick words I knew from their streams of consciousness. As the riders got closer, someone who could understand the announcers began translating how far out the pack was. “2 minutes!” “1 kilometer!” “30 seconds now!”

I couldn't believe how fast they flew by that first time, especially considering they had already ridden over 100 km that day and over 2,000 km over the past month (including up the mountains). Unfortunately our view was mostly blocked by signs and poles on either side of us, so it was tough for me to catch specific riders as they flew by. Many pictures came out blurry.
This one is blurry and is from the other side of the street, but I really like it because I caught Lance, and you can see how he is being protected by his team. There are two lieutenants in front of him, one on his right flank, and another on his left (in the white “young rider's” jersey). Fortunately, Lance was riding in the Mellow Johnny so it was easier to pick him out of the fast moving crowd.
Here, I caught him on my side of the street just as he was flying by. Again, you can see that a couple of Discovery riders are never far behind.
A great shot of Lance coming head on! I think that is big Hincapie leading the way.
Here, I managed to get a pretty good close up of Lance on his final ride before he retires. I was standing right along the gate at this point. The combination of not being able to see the riders coming and a delay in when my digital camera actually records a picture made it essentially like playing the lottery when trying to catch a specific rider, so I was really happy with this picture.

After the race, I made a mad rush to the finish line to try and see the award presentations. The finish line was too crowded for anyone to watch the race there (as Yogi Berra says, “nobody goes there anymore…it's too crowded”), so I had gone a long way up the street to try and get a good view. Unfortunately on the way back down, I ran into police barricades. The police had set up a HUGE perimeter blocking the lower part of the street from the upper. They weren't banning people from going to the finishing area, they were just trying to make it as difficult as possible. I knew at this point I was going to miss everything that was going on at the finish and I got extremely upset. I very nearly yelled a sarcastic remark about how I mistakenly thought authoritarian dictatorships had been removed from France, but I realized my view would be decidedly worse from a jail cell, and so I busted out the map and quickly made a 1 mile dash (carrying backpacks, food, books, water, umbrellas, and a cape to the finish. I got there just in time to see Team T-Mobile on the podium: By then, there was a huge crowd of people, and I had to stand on my toes to see anything. My 5'4” wife was out of luck (many women were sitting on the shoulders of giants).

After all of the trouble, I ended up being able to catch a glimpse of Lance standing on the podium with his son after our national anthem had played; That was essentially all I got to see of Lance on the podium (about 4 seconds worth) but it was worth it.

Watching the Tour from the Champs-Elysees was great. Rather than see a huge peleton go by once for about 5 seconds, we got to watch all of the riders go by no less than 16 times (8 laps, and you see them coming and going)! After the ceremony, a lot of people had already cleared out, which made it easier to see the victory laps by the teams.

Here is Team Rabobank with Michael Rassmussen riding by: I was really impressed with him this year, and I thought it was too bad that he had such a disastrous time trial.

Here is team CSC going by. They got a nice round of applause as well. Zabriskie is in the middle, riding out of uniform.

This shot is from farther away, but this is T-mobile coming down the road near the end of their lap.

And of course, the last to make their lap was Team Discovery.
Right after I got this shot of Lance, a huge crowd of photographers and Tour officials surrounded him and somehow managed to run the entire loop up and down the road with all of their gear – an impressive feat in itself.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the day, with all the American flags and people of other nationalities cheering as Discovery rides by. It was a great day.

Here's one more of Discovery:
This one is of Lance as he approaches the end of his very last victory lap. He is in the lower left, being congratulated by the director as he stands out of the sunroof. This picture will look great when I crop it and blow it up some (the full sized version of these pictures are high rez).
Here is one as they went by me…I still don't know how those photographers ran that whole way (although the herd had thinned out by then).

And that's it. Here is one last picture as everyone heads down the street.

It is the end of an era, and I am very thankful I got to witness it. I will still enjoy watching Team Discovery in the future, along with Zabriskie, Rassmussen, Jan, and all the rest, but it just won't be the same. I think Lance did great things for US Cycling and cyclists were fortunate to have him to push the sport out there into the mainstream American's home.

If you are interested in seeing some of my other non-cycling related pictures from my trip, you may view them here;


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