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Jul. 5, 2013
Tour de France Journal - Waves
Blame an attractive high school French teacher and early exposure to the films of Francois Truffaut for Matt Walsh's francophile tendencies. Then later came bike racing and watching the grandest race of all, the Tour de France. So as a freelance writer, there’s pretty much no place he’d rather be than in France on the race routes of Le Tour. It’s always an adventure that goes full-gas.

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Waves, which would be inaccurate. The precision is waves of waves.

If you have the good fortune of driving the 150 to 200 kilometers through France each day as you chase the Tour, you’ll notice something that happens every ten seconds. People wave.

day 7 2

They see your car with the Tour de France logo on the big windshield decal banner and they think you’re the opening act, the promise of the fast approaching promotional caravan (a kid favorite) and not long after, the arrival of the greatest endurance athletes in the world, the bike racers of the Tour de France. In a sense, you’re the appetizer and they’re thrilled to see you show up.

Everybody waves. Not just the impressionable and wildly enthusiastic kids but the parents, the teens, the old couples seated at their roadside tables. There’s no demographic that doesn’t wave. I have never been nor will ever be, as popular as I am right now, in France, at Le Tour. I've got charisma to burn, folks.

At first, it’s almost disconcerting, this our-pouring of genuine affection and you feel like perhaps you don’t merit the embrace. But that’s the reaction that every driver gets on that closed road before the riders arrive and the fireworks begin. It’s a contact high.

day 7 1

Most driver honk back and wave. I’ve done the tour once before and besides insisting on a diesel for mileage savings, I also realize what I need is a car with a good sounding horn that I can trigger with ease. I honk the horn several hundred times a day. My palm starts to tire from constantly hitting the center of the steering wheel. I have chronic Tour Spectator Honk Back Syndrome. I feel guilty if I don't’ respond to each and every wave and shout of gleeful excitment. After all, I don't want any bad Tour karma. Everybody loves the tour and good emotions run high.

They wave, I honk and together we celebrate.
Posted by:
Chris Morell
Team Clif Bar, Tour

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