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Tour de France moto blog: week one nearly done

Blog by Moto 514, Luke Evans, the driver of CW photographer Graham Watson’s motorbike at the 2014 Tour de France

Friday July 11

Nearly one week into the Tour de France and people are still talking about the opening weekend in Yorkshire and London.

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Riding a motorbike in the TdF is the closest you can get to being a rider. As one of the 16 photographer bikes with green stickers we can access all areas of the race.

We even ride inside the bunch when we are passing, albeit as far in the gutter as is possible but almost rubbing elbows with the riders.

It was quite emotional to ride through that many people waving and smiling at us for mile after mile. Tiring too, as you had to concentrate even harder when riding through so many roadside fans.

Why did Yorkshire embrace the TsF so enthusiastically? Well they’ve got a lot to be proud about and I don’t doubt there this proud region jumped at the chance to prove that les rosbifs could put on a party to match anything over the water.

Maybe we got the essential silliness of standing around for hours on end waiting for a glimpse of 200 skinny blokes zooming past in a few seconds.

The Tour messes with your mind. You are constantly counting down the days, trying to put a positive spin on how much you have done and what’s left.

But the stage numbers and days completed don’t always match up. We are up to stage seven, that’s good, one third of the stages done.

Hang on, we haven’t got to the second weekend yet and I’m already knackered. Damn!

Everyone is tired. The English stages were stressful and then we got caught up in the Eurotunnel delays which added time on ferries. Rain this week and the cobbled stages are making this a tough week one.

Moto drivers are good at hanging around waiting for our photographers and I was doing just that at the stage finish yesterday when Garmin DS Charly Wegelius wound down his window and said my Suzuki was getting on a bit.

I’ve had it from new and it’s done 45k miles all on bike races. It’s on its third chain and third clutch and I spent a few hundred on a full service before the race.

So far this week I’ve had to fix the fan which wasn’t plugged back in and caused the bike to overheat in Yorkshire, Graham bent the pillion foot peg getting up into the saddle for an over the crowd shot in Cambridge, and it blew a fuse in Ypres and wouldn’t start minutes before the roll out. I still think of it as a new bike but I guess Charly’s got a point.