Tour de France Update from Jon

Jon posted his observations on the TdF’s opening weekend in England on his and Kristen’s “Americans Amuck” life in London blog. You’d think Jon would have secured a ringside seat. Not so. In case you don’t recognize his pen name, well, he’s No. 1.

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

By Smitty Werbenmanjensen

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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