will_plant: (Default)
On Saturday Georgina and I went to Hyde Park to see Le Tour in all its glory.

We got there earlier than most but not as early as some and woefully underprepared compared to a certain class of 'pro' spectator : we had, for example, neglected to bring folding chairs, cool boxes, tartan rugs, camera tripods and other necessaries.(i don't think i saw a BBQ...)

We managed to find a spot, after much annoying dithering on my part, on the south side of South Carriage Drive about 100m before the sweeping right hand bend into the park. We were on the correct side to be close to the racing line, but perhaps not the most ideal for getting photos of the actual race.

We waited baking in the sun for a goodly while, and struck up conversation with a nice couple who appeared on some expensive racing bikes and stood next to us. The chap was impressively tall, an Australian living in Canada, who reminded me more than a little of a certain Mr P Garrett (a combination of stature and accent i'm sure) and his Canadian partner. They had apparently come over from Canada and were off for a holiday in France to follow the Tour.

There were more than a few cyclists warming up before the caravane came through so i was able to get some photos. Then the caravane appeared, sponsors vehicles imaginatively modded and body-kitted playing loud and slightly odd Euro-pop. Most of them were not exactly household names, even the French girl standing next to us was laughing when the offical fabric conditioner of Le Tour - Minidou (or something like that) came through. Plastic tat was ejected from the floats that made up the procession, i think we ended up with an Orange biro, and a Cycle Kent bicycle reflector, but no Haribos... disaster!

More and more cyclists were warming up so i got even more pics, and realised that i wasn't going to be able to get too many at race speed because of the closeness of the racing line to our position.

And sure enough, when the first prologue rider came past he was probably less than a meter from the side of the barrier. Being that close really gives you the feeling of how quick those guys are pedalling. I think i should have taken the 50mm lens as well as the big one as i would have been less paranoid about peering out over the barrier with it.

We stayed for about 5 or six riders, enough to finish my second film as it was getting very busy*. George had also been doing a bit of timeshare on the space at the barrier with a Northern sounding family (a young lad with his parents) and we were able to let them into the space when we bailed out.

We then decamped to Carlucccio's for a good feed, marred slightly by an unusually low quality of service, no attention for 10 mins after being seated, our vegetarian antipasto starter went awol for 20 mins etc. i think we fell foul of shift change over / and staff arguing over whose section of the floor we were sitting in. Frustrating.

A good day out, one of those were you meet interesing people who you would never otherwise have met, the weather was good at last and even the fact that South Ken station was stuffed when we tried to go home (we walked back across the park to Queensway tube) didn't put a dampener on it.

Following Londonist's lead (www.londonist.com)there were two main issues: crossing points, and following the action.

* It got busy as race time neared and that was to be expected, but by us it was exacerbated by the queue for the bridge crossing point about 300m away which even got closed at one point. The tailback reached us at times. More crossing points next time please.

And for those not near a big screen there was no way to know whether a rider was going fast or not. I am not sure having more tannoys relaying information would have helped that much but why wasn't there a Tour radio station for the day? It wouldn't have needed much power / range and everyone would have brought their own radios. Or if there was one, where were the adverts for it? It would probably have needed to be bilingual as every French citizen on English soil appeared to be lining the route!

Pictures to follow when developed and scanned, old-fangled i know!


will_plant: (Default)

May 2009

3 4 56789


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags