It all started with the WeeFee. And Ended with Washing Laundry in the Shower.

One can never, ever underestimate the erratic, confounding, and elusive Euro WiFi. ©BrakeThrough Media

The Tour de France is a perfect microcosm for life itself. Everything that happens here can be applied knowledge to our daily existence. Take today as an example. Wed July 4th, Stage 4, Normandie France. To begin we must go backwards. This morning I tweeted “Bonjour Rue, the cornflakes are stale and milk is off – prelude to un jour journèe – let’s hope not! #tdf12 @BrakeThrough @OnevFoto” And so our day commenced!

The most important lesson learned occurs at the first light of day – start with the basics. Coffee, petit dejeuner, shower. Once you mess with this holy grail, all bets are off. This morning we had already suffered a level of mediocrity unacceptáble (mandatory french accent when reading aloud) at the hands of the breakfast gods. We were one day behind in our client deliverables due to poor interwebs a.k.a. French wifi the night before. We were also already in a poor state of nutrition and culinary experience when we arrived at the Hotel de la Gare in Rue – refer to aforementioned post about the reality of dinner past 10pm – and were easily appeased with a tray of cold beer and bread & buerre. Jim stated that this alimentation gave new meaning to the term “B&B.”I couldn’t agree more.

A welcome sight might be considered a pathetic dinner unless you have arrived at your hotel in the middle of nowhere, in France, without having eaten since the beginning of the day! ©BrakeThrough Media

Sufficed to say, the infamous Euro weefee was impassable – literally, we could not make our way through it, around it, or within it. We gave up. Plan B. So, we decided to skip the start of the stage and find the nearest hotspot for uploading our daily galleries. Easier said then done, even for the experienced traveler. Life Lesson #2. Know when to compromise. As many media types having worked in Europe can vouch, some of the most stable and reliable wifi connectons are to be found and, well, celebrated at MickeyD’s. McDonald’s. I know, don’t judge me! I call myself a foodie? Fear not, this is not your typical American fastfood hotspot. The place looks like an Ikea showroom and they even have Macarons!

So we do the digital upload (ok 90% of it, but who’s counting?!) and get the gear back to the car, load up, take off, and roll on. Things are looking good. Life Lesson #3. Don’t count your French hens before they hatch.

Barreling down the Hors Course at 110k to meet up with the race route, enjoying the plushy white clouds against a cerulean blue backdrop and golden fields of flaxen wheat… we almost crash into a camouflaged bit of road furniture. I jam on the brakes hoping not to crash our rental car and all our gear in the back seat goes flying – 4 fully rigged Canon cameras, 2 flashes, a quantum, camera bag, gear belt, and rain gear on top of it all. Jim nearly loses what little breakfast we had and I try to get my heartbeat back down to a level acceptáble (mandatory french accent when reading aloud).

Ok, fast forward 6 min. Gear cross-checked. No major damage. Minor bickering ensues (off the record). Heart rate semi-normal. We get back on course, literally. Now that we got the mandatory near-crash out of the way, we get on a roll. Arrive at the feedzone, find our subjects, get client-statisfaction imagery, still great poofy clouds, blue skies, fast riders, energetic fans. Bien, Life Lesson #4, all things turn around.

Fans embrace the feeling of the feedzone with official tour de France gear. (C)BrakeThrough Media

This is good, we are back in a groove! The day has turned around! Make our way to the finish via winding side roads and then get stuck in a major-cluster-road-closure-fuck for 55min while within 3.5k of the finale. We finally pass the security check points after 4 U-turns, 14 backtracks, and our GPS girl has resigned. Life Lesson #5. Never underestimate travel time.

We’re in the home stretch! Race will arrive in 30 min. Just enough time to get to the finishing straight, check in with colleagues on any reports; crashes, breakaway status, etc, and figure out our shot-plan.

To be continued…