Monday July 21 second rest day
Washed the bike and filled the tank. I was going to take the tank off and have a poke around but we haven’t blown a fuse in two days so I am keeping fingers crossed for the rest of the week.
I remember one of Graham’s drivers telling me that problems with the bike are what get you down the most on a long race. For the photographer the motorbike is the most expensive bit of his Tour costs. You feel that pressure.
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Had lunch with Graham, the only Brits sitting outside as drizzly rain blew in every 10 minutes. Take a stroll around Carcassonne and wander around the museum of fine arts. Some fine paintings, a few Dutch ones I like with peasants eating soup with the lights turned out.
Had a run along the Canal du Midi and watched the boats going through a lock. Lovely canal with a gravel path, great for cycling.
Stage 16 Carcassonne to Bagneres de Luchon, Tuesday July 22
More vineyards, I think this where they produce the cheaper stuff we drink during the week. Drive off road through a vineyard to get a shot of the bunch but the vines are too high and the riders heads disappear just where Graham wants to take the shot.
Descent of Col de Portet d’Aspet is fast and winding, with no hairpin bends to check the speed. Road surface gritty and bumpy in places. A dangerous descent where Fabio Casartelli lost his life. It’s short too, the longer descents give a you a chance to find a rhythm and a feel for the rhythm of the road.
Passing the bunch and it’s a tight one as the bunch is still big and many are anxious to stay in position for the coming climbs. Lars Boom makes a hand gesture which I take as a stay back but then he moves a fraction to the left and I move into the gap ahead of him. He shouts and comes pedalling by thumping me on the shoulder. Happens sometimes.
Stage 17 Saint Gaudens to Saint Lary Pla d’Adet, Wednesday July 13
We pop into and out of Spain, the Spanish cops drive in the centre of the road with their sirens going and they have two flags flying either side of their white BMWs. Through towns the tourist shops spill colourfully onto the pavement with racks selling postcards, flip flops and souvenirs.
Roadside: woman near the finish brandishing a gnawed dinosaur bone.
Blog by Moto 514, Luke Evans, the driver of CW photographer Graham Watson’s motorbike at the 2014 Tour de France
More insight into the inner workings of the Tour de France from moto pilot Luke Evans