Today Cambridge played host to Stage 3 of the Tour de France. The entire city was pretty much shut down other than pubs and Starbucks. It was a gloriously sunny day, so my wife and I decided to join about a million other people to cram the streets and watch the riders go by.
Our original plan was simply to attend the morning festivities, and then I would fly solo to leverage my height (and street smarts, and brute strength) to find my way to the race course to see the riders. But once we were there, we just tried to make a go of it with our 4 year old and 2 year old. They actually handled the crowds quite well. (The crowds, on the other hand, did not much appreciate our double-wide B.O.B. stroller).
We arrived for the morning festivities at Parker’s Piece, where the race officially began. There was a huge LCD that didn’t actually show anything useful and several vendors of food, etc. It was neat to see all the riding groups from around the city out in full force in their club uniforms.
The event’s main stage took life as they began announcing stuff, asking trivia questions, and generally burning time for a TV audience about 2 hrs before the start. The girls, however, got official flags of one of the sponsors, which was about the best thing they’ve ever gotten.
We made our way to the race course off Regent St and stood for a while, but once it started getting tight, we got out of there. Many thanks to the security officer who helped clear a path for the stroller!
As it approached 1 hour before the race, we realized we might get stuck in Parker’s Piece when they shut off access. So we finally found the last remaining crosswalk that was open, and we took a break at Starbucks. A cold treat was key to getting C & A to press on through the fatigue that was setting in.
We made our way to Christ’s Pieces and found a much smaller crowd. We elbowed our way to position right on St. Andrews Street, on the second row of spectators. The girls were great at hanging in there despite not really understanding what the big deal was with people riding their bikes, since they, you know, ride their bikes all the time.
Finally, at a little after 12:15, the official caravan came through followed by the big group of riders. I was able to get a pretty decent video:
You’ll notice at the end of the video that everyone comes to a complete stop. I’m guessing the turn up ahead was too sharp for the motorcade and riders, causing a logjam. They weren’t really “racing” at this point anyhow, but it was pretty funny to see.
After about 32 seconds…it was all over. Back to normal life. But it was a great experience. Though the girls will probably not remember it at all, and though the whole “taking the kids to see the Tour” thing was a little stressful, we’re glad we did it.