Painting the road – Tour de France
As the title says we painted the road at the Tour de France in 2011. But before we get the paintingpart I need to fill you in on the background first.
We had left Morocco and had driven through Spain and into Portugal where at a campsite near Viana da Castella we met Guy and Fran, fulltime motorhomers and good fun people. After spending some time together we decided that if possible we would try and meet at the Tour de France. Our last night together was spent in there motorhome sharing some drinks, stories and having a good laugh. We were having such a good time that the security officer at the campground came around and told us to be quiet. We parted ways heading and we headed of to explore some more of Portugal then Spain and into France. At a little campsite in the Loire Valley we received a phone call from Guy, they had found a place on the side of the road for the second stage of the tour which was a time trial stage and they were saving a place for us. Our plans were then changed as we had initially planned to see the first stage and then on to the second. The trip to Les Essarts was over 300 kilometres through some scenic French countryside and apon arrival Guy met us in the town escorting us to the parking area on his scooter.
The place was already full of motorhomers with a variety of different countries represented four English couples, Germans, French, Italians and Australians , we were not the only aussies there as a couple on their honeymoon joined us at the site in a hired motorhome.Everyone was getting on well and relaxing as the event was not due for a couple of days.
Call me crazy but during the Tour de France I wear a Koala outfit. To read more about the Koala visit our Koala Page. When Guy found out about this he decided that a trip into the town was on the cards. I put the suit on and armed with an Australian flag I hoped on the back of the scooter with Guy in the driver’s seat. Horn blazing we drove to the centre of the town much to the amusement and bewilderment of the spectators who we passed by. I still haven’t got the road painting bit, just a bit more background and the paint will flow.
One of the English couples Rusty [Hugh] and Kay are mad keen Sky supporters. Very keen and a little bit mad. Around their motorhome were large banners of the Sky team. They not only follow some of the Tour de France each year but they also go to other tours and cycling events around Europe. They approached all the people who spoke English and asked whether we would assist them in painting some signs on the road. They want to paint SKY on the road three times with a green stripe going between them. We all agreed and told us all to return at 8.00pm. to start.
Now comes the part where we paint the road. We all assembled with our hi-vis vest on as the road was still being used and had not been blocked off. Rusty sent two people up the road to divert traffic and two down the road. He might have been a bit crazy but at least he was safety conscious. He then produced three large stencils which he had made and strapped to the back of his motorhome bringing then all the way from England. Then came the paint, brushes and rollers which he spent 130€ on, see what I mean a real fanatic. The first of the letter stencils came out the letter S
And an outline was drawn using paint brushes, my job was to use the paint roller and fill in between the outlines. With the first of the S’s done we then painted the next and then the last, all the while traffic was being diverted to the other side of the road. You may ask, is this illegal?, did anyone protest about having to slow down and move to the side of the road ?, didn’t the Police stop your activities ?. Well to answer the questions only one person did complain and he told us that he would call the police. When a police car did come past [not as a result from our irate friend] they also move to the side of the road when directed and didn’t seem to mind a bit.
With the S’s complete we moved to the K’s in the middle of the road and finally to the Y’s completing the 3 Sky’s. A green stipe was added and our mission was completed at around 10pm, this is when Rusty and Kay invited all the workers to come back to their motorhome where laid out on the table was beer, wine, soft drink, pims, lemonchello and an assortment of nibbles to go with the drinks. We all partied on until 12.30 all a bit tipsy and proud of our evenings work.
The next day was the day of the event and a good time was had by all. Late in the afternoon the motorhomes drifted off in all different directions many going to the next stage of the tour. If you are driving towards the town of Les Essarts and you see the words SKY SKY SKY on the road you will know it was Rusty and his band of workers. We did such a good job I’m sure it will be there for years to come.