Somewhere back in late October or early November, out of the blue, I suddenly announced to a few friends gathered around the kitchen table my intention to photograph the 2017 Tour de France.
It was as much a surprise to me as it was to them. They reacted with enthusiasm and excitement while I just sat and wondered where the hell did that came from? It made perfect sense, of course, a passion for cycling, a love of photography etc. But, even so, the pronouncement of intent took me by surprise.
In one way or another preparations have been going on ever since. December was all about strategy, routes, and maps. January was taken up with practicalities around transportation and route planning. February was financing, while March and April revolved around logistics and freeing up the time and resources needed just to reach the starting line. Into May, and getting down to the details, batteries, spare batteries, battery chargers, memory cards, tyres, spares, the weather, will it be hot? Cold? Both? Hotels, campsites? Costs, mileages, distances, tolls, insurance for this and insurance for that, you name it.
It started simply enough. Fly out to a cheap destination somewhere in Southern France. Hire a car, check out the route, and shoot. That'll work, that's what I should have done, start small, this year a week, next year two. Learn as I go. Only, the whole enterprise seems to have developed a life of its own. I'm now just a passenger on this road, locked into the process as much as any rider looking to ride the Tour.
All the time in the background is running the questions. What to shoot, where to shoot, how to shoot when to shoot. The logistics of how to get where exactly? On the right day at the right time, and out again. I really do need to get fit, quickly. Some places will only be accessible by bike, like 3/4 of the way up the Col du Galibier. That's 17km of climbing. Then together with a few hundred thousand other fans needing to get back down the mountain. Where did I leave the car?
I did apply for one of the Tour motorcycles but they haven't got back to me yet. They must be very busy. Oh yes, and did I mention I'm also moving house? The week before the departure date for France. Well, really? What could possibly go wrong?
I will keep you posted...
Continued - Part Two