I began the day planning my route over coffee, and hanging with the lovely host dog, Indie:
Plans for the day: Shoot the start, shoot the Port d'Envalira, maybe shoot somewhere else, belly rubs and neck scratches, shoot th finish. Ok, so Indie was responsible for suggesting the rubs/scratches, but don't even act like that's not a good idea in its own right.
Other plans for the day: Stop at an Orange store to finally remedy my SIM card issue. I had originally intended to stop at the nearest boutique Orange in Foix, but Indie suggested I instead head to the one in Pamiers to hop on course and shoot somewhere near Mirepoix first. Good dog!
At the start:
Finally, it was time to roll out from the start to ascend the Category 1 Port d'Envalira: 22km of 5.5% average. But, that's a little misleading - the first half is rather shallow, but the latter half clocks in at ~6-9%, according to the course profile. Either way: it was hard.
Coming down the back side of the climb was another level of fun/scary/scary fun, as dense fog limited visibility down to a few meters at points.
After some serious rally-car driving from Ax-les-Thermes, I arrived back on the route in plenty of time ahead of the riders. I settled on the town of La Bastide-de-Bousignac to play with panning shots of the break, and casual shooting of the very casually paced peloton.
And then it was time to run to the Orange store.... If it were quick, I'd have just enough time to make it to the finish!
It was not quick. Pamiers is a small town of just under 16k people.
And all of them were cell phone shopping at 4 pm on a Tueaday. All of my buffer time burned up trying to explain in ridiculously broken French, English, and pantomime why I would need assistance with my SIM card when I already have one and it was working. Or why I would want to verify my identity to top it up now, as opposed to waiting for a mailed in verification. Oh, France.
No shots of the finish today. Which is a real bummer, because Matthews took a great win. But on the plus side, I have the luxury of composing this post from the road.
We'll try again tomorrow, as the Tour rolls along a flat transfer stage from Carcassone to Montpellier. So, sprint finish!