Tagged: Mike Tomalaris

My 2014 Tour de France

Hooray! The Tour de France starts today and for years I’ve dreamt about going to France in July in order to follow this major sporting event throughout the French countryside and soaking up the atmosphere and tasting the local produce as the world stops and focuses on France. I’ve been lucky to visit France on two separate occasions however not in the month of July when the country hosts the Tour de France. So like thousands of others I spend three weeks of July watching the tour from the comfort of my lounge room in the middle of the night. Fortunately July just happens to be school holidays for the middle of the year so lazy sleep ins help with bleary eyes and usually there is only one week to have to manage the disrupted sleep patterns. I haven’t given up on the dream to get back to France one day but in reality, thanks to SBS I have to say staying home and watching the live telecast is much easier, more convenient and cheaper than a month’s self drive holiday following the Tour throughout France. I actually couldn’t think of anything worse than living in a campervan for one day let alone 21 days!

There are so many positives that come along with a cancer diagnosis, for me one good thing from my forced early retirement from my teaching means I am free to watch as much late night TV as there is on offer on both free to air and pay TV. So given I don’t have the worry of dealing with the impact of late nights and having to stand in front of 25 eager youngsters in a classroom whilst suffering with lack of sleep and bleary eyes I am able to stay up quite late to watch each stage of the Tour de France. Last year was my first time watching without the pressure of work the following day and I started to do a little commentary using my Facebook page. This year I have decided to continue to use social media and will use new skills of tweeting to enhance the whole experience. I must admit at the start of the 3 weeks I do clearly express to my Facebook followers that if they don’t like what I write they can easily change my settings so they don’t have to follow along. Every one has choice. I won’t be offended as I know there are so many people who post info about their lives that I’m not interested in and I’m guilty of switching quite a few off when I’m over what they share! There is an old saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, and luckily we are all different because the world would be boring if we were all the same!

Thanks to a bit of luck and my new Twitter hobby, I’m proud to say that this year a tiny piece of me did get to go to the Tour de France and I didn’t need my passport, to pack a suitcase or to even leave home!

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After seeing a Twitter request for knitted bunting to help decorate the town of Ilkley for the Grand Depart of this year’s Tour de France in Yorkshire, United Kingdom I got knitting.

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I had great fun knitting these triangles and even more fun with my dear friend Kath who helped take my photo in Williamstown one busy Friday afternoon before popping my 5 yellow creations into the post box along with a cuddly koala and a Melbourne postcard.

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Luke and I traveled to the north of England in 2011 prior to watching Brianna dance in Dublin in the World Irish Dancing Championships. We visited Yorkshire and particularly enjoyed our drive through the dales along the narrow roads with the dry stone walls keeping the grazing sheep safe. I remember quite clearly the town of Bradford as we headed back from an overnight stay at Goathland, home of the famous pub filmed in the UK TV series Heartbeat on our way to stay at Haworth, home of the Bronte family. We may very well have driven along some of the same route that the Tour would take on its Grand Depart. Who knows? Ilkley is one of the first towns the TdF cyclists will pass through on Stage 1 and I would love to be there as the Tour de France cycles through such a beautiful part of the world.

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I had hoped my bunting would be somewhere along the roadside for the cyclists to enjoy with other knitted bunting that so many people had generously knitted but my parcel of knitting all the way from Australia was such a surprise that it was decided to display it inside the Visitor Information Centre in Ilkley.

IMG_2175I’m more than happy to have heard from Peter that the staff have pointed out my contribution to many Aussie visitors! Here are Peter and Margaret inside the Ilkley Visitor Information Centre.

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After the excitement of the Tour there will be a group of women who are going to join all the triangles to make blankets for people in need. How lucky will those recipients be to know they have a blanket made with love from local UK knitters along with others like me from around the world?

In the lead up to the Grand Depart I continued to Tweet about the excitement of the Tour de France and included quite a few Yorkshire hashtags in my tweets. I enjoyed learning more about this form social media and continue to be surprised when someone from the other side of the world favorites one of my tweets! I didn’t know who was behind the @visitBradford or @IlkleyChat but am grateful for their reply tweets which I enjoyed reading.  I hope that I helped make just a little bit of difference with my knitting and tweeting!

I have decided to take a photo each day of the stage map and include some information that might be of interest.

First up is the map of Stage 1 of Tour de France from Leeds to Harrowgate (190.5km). Nothing too interesting about Jaffa lollies apart from the fact they are usually irresistible! I was so excited knowing the Tour was actually starting and I had Luke and both Brianna and Branwell sitting in the lounge room watching with me. I know they all probably thought I was crazy, or should I say they know I am crazy but I hope they were proud of me and my contribution. Not that Vincenzo Nibali would have noticed as he cycled past but it all certainly helped with the atmosphere, which Yorkshire certainly had heaps! People lined the side of the roads from Leeds all the way down to London for the 3 days the Tour was in the UK.

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Cheers! Brown Brothers Moscato and my Tour De France official guidebook are much more interesting!

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Stage 2 York to Sheffield (201km). My highlight will be the riding through Haworth home of the Bronte family. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are among some of English literature’s classics. Branwell the brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne was a poet and is who our son is named after!

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The peloton making their way down the Blubberhouses dale in Yorkshire just a small mountain to get the cyclists in the mood for what is to come once they cross over the English Channel onto French soil. I included this photo with my tweets and was amazed to get responses from people living in the UK.

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Like the previous night by time the Tour arrived in Haworth I was so excited and I had everyone gathered around again. This next photo shows the riders cycling up the cobblestone road in historic Haworth. I wondered what the Bronte’s would think of the huge crowds and colourful cyclists riding through their hometown?

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Stage 3 Cambridge to London (155km) is a short stage today. I’m sure the Queen will enjoy front row seats as the race finishes outside Buckingham Palace! There won’t be much time for dilly dallying and tourist stops in London as later on the cyclists will need to travel down to Dover with their entourages to catch the ferry across the Channel in order to arrive onto French soil for tomorrow’s stage.

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Off to the French inspired Cinnamon Patisserie in Williamstown for some inspiration as the Tour de France has left the UK and is now on French soil! Won’t have as many visual prompts but will do my best to keep you updated. Of course you know the drill if you don’t care for cycling just switch me off for the next 3 weeks!

I’ve never been to watch the Tour de France, however thanks to SBS and my Official Guide I’ve got the best view from my comfy lounge chair especially while wearing a red scarf and my beret, a purchase from one of my trips to Paris.

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Stage 4 travels from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage close to the coast across to Lille near the Belgium border (163.5km). It will be interesting to see if the French crowds will be able to come close to the hundreds of thousands who lined the road for the first three days in the UK. Lille is famous for filled waffles according to Gabriel Gate, SBS’s compare of Le Taste of Le Tour for the past 10 years and whom shares local French recipes each night prior to the race starting.

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Stage 5 starts in historical Ypres in Belgium and will provide us with a most exciting day’s cycling as it travels back down into France to Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut (155.5km). There are seven sections of cobbles for the riders to battle through. The race organizers have just closed two sections which are too wet and dangerous for the riders’ safety. Anyone who has walked along the cobblestones of old European cities will know how hard it will be for the riders to stay on their two wheels. Let’s just hope for a safe stage without any crashes and any serious injuries. The Camembert Rouzaire is one of France’s most famous cheeses made in the Seine-et-Marne department which has Disneyland and Fontainbleau tourist attractions.

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Stage 6 begins in Arras and sees the peloton head south east to Reims (194km). This area of France is home of some horrific battles from the First World War which this year commemorates 100 years. Yesterday’s stage was an amazing day of cycling, such brilliant TV entertainment for us at home but a showcase of the remarkable determination and talent these men have on their bikes. Horrible wet conditions over the cobblestones made it such a hard day at the office. Sadly Chris Froome fell twice on the wet roads and had to pull out of the race injured. NibaliI retains the yellow jersey. Arras is very close to the front line where many battles were fought including Vimy Ridge where now there is a memorial for the Canadian lives lost in battle. Reims is home to many of the world’s finest Champagne houses including G.H. Mumm and Veuve Clicquot.

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Tonight’s stage 7 goes from Epernay to Nancy (234.5km). No time to enjoy any of the bubbly liquid that this region is famous for as it is the longest stage so far and the riders will be feeling the pain by now having raced for 6 days in a row. Lots of aches and pains, sore bones, blisters and grazes along with a sore bum from the constant sitting on the saddle will start to take their toll on the riders. Maybe there should be some champagne in those water bottles to help sooth the pain! Today’s featured Fromager des Clarines cheese comes from the Comte region where the race will be cycling through on stage 11. This rich buttery soft cheese comes in a wooden box to help it continue to ripen. Enough of cheese and back to the cycling make sure you look out for the two big hills towards the end of the stage which should provide us with an interesting end to the race.

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Stage 8 sees the Tour de France head into the Vosges Mountains. Starting in Tomblaine and heading south to Getardmer La Mauselaine (161km). Hoping that the cyclists will be able to stay on their bikes after such a high number of crashes and falls in the past few days. Today’s photo  with thanks to Blue Illusion, Williamstown highlights one of the most famous French women in history Coco Chanel known for success in fashion and the iconic Chanel look. The Lorraine area is famous for its quiche, I learnt how to cook quiche Lorraine in my year 7 French lessons at Kilbride.

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Stage 9 Gerardmer to Mulhouse (170km). Day 2 in the Vosges Mountains will keep the riders concentrating today as they face 6 climbs. Today’s photo includes a yummy pain du chocolate! Tomorrow is Bastille Day, the French National Day of celebration. Hope you find something French to enjoy! But then again you might prefer something German or Argentinian depending on who wins or loses the World Cup!

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Stage 10 sees the peloton racing for the third day through the Vosges Mountains. Mulhouse to La Planches des Belles Filles (161.5km). This is where the men from the boys will show through and the lead of the race may change hands again! Hopefully a Frenchman will get through to the end on Bastille Day. Tomorrow is a rest day. I know I need an early night so the riders will also be ready for their first rest day since starting back on 5th July!

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Stage 11 Besancon down to Oyonnax (187.5km). Today’s stage just might give some time for the peloton to settle down after the rest day and the upset of the previous stage of losing Tour favourite Alberto Contador.

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Stage 12 Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint Etienne (185.5km). Today sees the Tour de France travel through picturesque south east France. The riders should be happy the climbs are nothing like those of the past few days in the Vosges or what is ahead.

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Stage 13 Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse (197.5km). Two huge mountain climbs in the last 50 km will again sort the men from the boys, it is going to be another tough day in the saddle! It is so sad to see more riders having to abandon the Tour de France as a result of a bad fall or illness. Gorgeous French chateaux and the countryside of the Alps will continue to keep the viewers interested throughout today’s stage although I’m not sure how much the cyclists will take in as they pedal along! Sorry about the pate in today’s photo as it isn’t a very attractive sight and was hard to make it look interesting!

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Where possible I like to integrate my interests so today’s #fmsphotoaday theme CURLY met the Tour as the road the cyclists will be riding through the French Alps on the Tour de France is definitely curly today. Glad it is them and not me!

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Stage 14 Grenoble to Risoul (177km). Today’s cycling sees the riders at the highest point of the tour at 2360m on Col d’Izoard. We are now two thirds through the Tour and each day cyclists continue to abandon the race. The spectacular scenery of the French Alps can’t be beaten by much else. A hearty beef casserole and a glass of my new favourite red wine from Bordeaux complete today’s photo.

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I am a day late so hope I don’t cause any confusion! Stage 15 from Tallard to Nimes (222km) was rather lengthy and a good opportunity for the sprinters. The wind didn’t play havoc by splitting the peloton, it was just rain which soaked the riders and crowds who gathered along the roads. Hard to believe the Tour has been going for two weeks. Rest day tonight before the final trek into the Pyrenees and the ride along the Champs Élysées into Paris on Sunday! A croissant with some luscious raspberry Bonne Maman jam completes today’s photo.

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Today I learnt who was behind the Bradford tweets when I got a parcel in post from Lisa in Yorkshire thanking me for my knitting! Lisa and Sarah had been tweeting me and sent a collection of memorabilia from the Grand Depart of Tour de France. I opened the Yorkshire Vision newspaper that was included to find a picture of me and my knitted bunting! So excited that I was included in the story of how the Bradford district was preparing for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

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Stage 16 Carcassonne to Bagneres-De-Luchon (237.5km). Today is the longest day of cycling and the end will be exciting as the final descent of just over 20km will test the skill of each of the remaining riders! Will Nibali be able to hold on to the yellow jersey? Will an Australian get to the finish line first? Today’s stage map in the photo is surrounded by special items from Yorkshire which have arrived in the post as a thank you for my knitted bunting. I was so surprised to get all of this TdF memorabilia! Including my photo on Pg 42 of the Yorkshire Vision!

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Stage 17 Saint-Gaudens to Pla D’Adet (124.5km). Today is the shortest stage of the tour but not necessarily the easiest as the cyclists continue their journey through the Pyrenees. The cake featured in my photo today is a scrumptious chocolate mousse cake from one of Melbourne’s newest French eateries Becasse, at the new Emporium Melbourne. Well worth a visit if you get the chance to spend some time in our beautiful city!

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Just in case you aren’t impressed with the round brown cake, here is a close up of the inside yummy chocolate mousse! Yummy in my tummy!

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Stage 18 Pau to Hautacam (145.5km). Another day in the mountains for the climbers as we continue our time in the Pyrenees. First the climb up the Col du Tourmalet will test the strength of those still in the race and then the final climb up to Hautacam will keep those of us at home watching in the dark wide awake! Today’s photo highlights two books written by Lance Armstrong after his battle with cancer. He won 7 consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, but sadly his wins were stripped from him after he was found guilty of doping offences. No matter what people say about Armstrong he is still a champion in my eyes. Unfortunately he had denied the illegal drug use throughout his career but finally admitted to doping in a TV interview with Oprah early in 2013.

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Each night I have watched the Tour from the comfort of my reclining lounge chair thanks to SBS. I have also been part of a larger community on Twitter made up of other #tourfreaks as we might be described who enjoy the #sbstdf coverage hosted by Mike Tomalaris who impresses us with his pronunciation of the international cyclist’s names along with the places the Tour rides by. We can always get a good idea of the weather with just a quick look at Mike’s hair. I was quite impressed when Mike favourited a few of my tweets, retweeted some and one night he even took the time and replied personally to one of my questions. At this high point of the Tour I continue to be amazed at the wonders of technology and how Mike, Matt, Phil and Paul along with their amazing @CyclingCentral crew are able to bring us so close to the riders and France. Surprisingly I think there was only one day where the weather interrupted the SBS coverage. We are lucky to have the talented and knowledgeable Matthew Keenan as commentator for the early part of each stage before legendary Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen take over close to the 100km mark. Phil and Paul are like an old married couple as they talk their way through each of the 21 stages. This year the expert pre and post discussions were shared around to give viewers some variety.

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Each night around the 50km mark to go we look forward to when @norbs calls for us to take part in #toursnacks. People describe the food which will get them through the final 50km of the race. Just as the cyclists need to be careful to keep fuelled, so too do the viewers taking part in the fun back home here in Australia. The taking of food photographs is encouraged and helps spur on the menus on offer. Given that everyone else is sound asleep I do my best to quietly tippy toe around the kitchen as I hunt for my special treats. Its funny how it might be 1.45am in the morning and yet cheese and biscuits along with a glass of Milo and milk are so appealing!

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Stage 19 Maubourguet to Bergerac (208.5km). Three days to go now. I think I can, I think I can! Today’s cycling will be advantageous for the sprinters. Vincenzo Nibali just needs to stay on his bike to take this years win. Peter Sagan has the green jersey and will hope he might get the stage win. The roads will be flat. Today I have included a yummy Nutella filled crepe from the local crepery. I know Clemence our French visitor would love one of these!

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Tour de France finish tonight was another cracker ending with huge crash just before finish line upsetting Sagan’s chance for a stage win. Tired but got my second wind in time for some bagpipes at Glasgow2014! Oh and the Australian National Anthem too as we celebrate our Aussie track cyclists – Gold for Jack Bobridge and Silver for Alex Edmondson in 4000m individual pursuit and Silver for Annette Edmondson and Bronze for Amy Cure in 2000m individual pursuit! The musical contributions by #trolldj certainly adds to the atmosphere at home. A little bit of ACDC along with the bagpipes playing over a visual montage of the cycling, while ‘It’s a long way to the Top’ sounds out can just keep one that little bit awake at 1.20am in the morning as the eyes start to drift off to sleep. One of my favourite songs is Edith Piaf’s classic ‘No Regrets’ as the Tour cycles through the fields of France while The Muppet’s ‘Moving Right Along’ provide a complete contrast, but it is late at night so all taste has pretty much gone out the darkened window!

Stage 20 the penultimate stage Bergerac to Petigueux (54km) is the only time trial of this year’s Tour de France. First place of the Tour is decided as long as Vincenzo Nibali continues to ride safely. The final 2nd to 5th spots of the Tour will come down to the success of a few individuals who are very keen to take a podium finish. There hasn’t been a French man stand on the podium since 1997. Today’s photo includes some yellow food to celebrate – m&ms, bananas, tick tock biscuits and yellow iced vanilla cup cakes I made! My twitter #toursnacks group of cycling friends are all enjoying yellow treats tonight. I have enjoyed tweeting each night with like minded cycling fans! I’m rather pleased that over the past 20 stages I have increased my Twitter followers from 17 up to 33! The Tour makes its way into Paris tomorrow and their will be a women’s race in the Parisienne streets before the men of the tour arrive on the Champs Élysées.

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My personal Tour de France challenge was to knit 21 different #chemohats over 21 stages from Yorkshire to Paris. 19 are finished so only 2 to go before the final of 3660.5km is cycled along the Champs Élysées!

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Stage 21 Evry to Paris Champs-Élysées (137.5km). Well the final day of racing is here and the cyclists have covered 3660.5km from Yorkshire in United Kingdom across the English Channel to the north of France, across the flat fields, through quaint French villages and up and down 3 different mountain ranges in France. The cyclists have experienced all sorts of weather over the 3 weeks and so many falls and crashes have altered the outcome of the race. Italian Vincenzo Nibali will wear the yellow jersey along today’s road and just needs to stay on his bike to be this year’s winner! In my photo today some Moët champagne and a French choux pastry to celebrate! Viva Le Tour!

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Joan of Arc and the 164 male cyclists who have made it to the Champs Élysées at the final of the Tour de France!

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Vincenzo Nibali Italian winner of the 2014 Tour de France.

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It’s over! Thanks for the memories! Here is my contribution for #toursnacks on the final night.If you look carefully you should be able to read #sbstdf and @norbs. Was actually quite fiddly working with the mini size smarties. They looked good and tasted better!

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I thought I might have had a good chance at winning a competition that #SBSFRENCH sponsored but unfortunately I was pipped at the post by a Souffle au Fromage! Can you believe that? Now it was a very nice looking souffle created by @MadameFlavour an appropriate name given her success tonight. Oh well I have a whole year to think about next year’s entry!

Been a wonderful 3 weeks touring the UK and France. Have had fun posting my photos along with information of each stage so those interested could follow along with me. Can happily report all of the yummy croissants, eclairs, crème brulee, pain du chocolate, macarons, chocolate mousse, pate, Brie, Camembert, Moët champagne, Bordeaux, Beouf Bourguignon and crepes used in my photos have all been thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to my lovely family for helping me on my own personal Tour de France even if I didn’t need a passport and it was in the comfort of our lounge room on some very cold dark winter nights.

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