Reporters on the Job
• On the Tour de Lance : To report today's story about the people who flock to the Pyrenees to watch the Tour de France (see story), staff writer Peter Ford spent the night camped on the side of the road. "Last year, I set out to watch on the morning of the race and had to talk my way past the police barricades. This year I arrived the day before. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, I found the last available spot on the edge of the road near a steep hairpin [on the Col D'Azet at about 1,580 meters (5,183 feet) above sea level]," he says.
"I don't like to be at the summit. I prefer to be where the riders make their moves, attacking the leaders. Here, they'll have to slow down and you get to look right in their eyes," he says.
Peter thought he'd come relatively well-prepared. He brought a sleeping bag and some food. "I'm astonished by how well prepared others were. One family arrived and pulled out their hedge clippers, trimmed the brambles back, set up a tent, a table, cooler, and sun shade. Others have their camper vans with satellite TVs."
Peter's parking spot is on the edge of a ravine. "I have a magnificent view of the Louron Valley and a lake. Above me are snow capped peaks. I'll get my first glimpse of the riders as they come across the valley."
And, he's been adopted by a family that insisted that he share their blood sausage and watermelon. "This is not what I'd call a hardship assignment," he says wryly.
David Clark Scott