Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stage 9 - Morning climbing the Col de La Joux Plane - Talking cycling, Livestrong, and the global battle against cancer

Link to Belgian TV Piece - Cycling, Lifestrong, and the battle against cancer.

While in Morzine, we were very fortunate to meet up with Katleen and Thierry who were filming and producing daily segments about the Tour de France for a Belgian TV station. Thanks to Gaby Zwaan, the two had seen our blog, and were interested in what Liam and I were doing in France. (Thanks Gaby!) On Sunday, Katleen made a call to her producers in Belgium, and it was decided that, if we agreed, Tuesday they would do a segment on Liam and me. Wow, it would be a really great opportunity to talk about Livestrong, our motivation, and, of course, do some great riding in the mountains!

We arranged to meet at our hotel at 8:30 in the morning in Morzine. This would give us three hours to ride, do an interview, and get back to see the start of the stage. It seemed that the whole town was awake and stirring. You could feel the energy as the Tour de France was getting ready to roll out of town after its first rest day.

The day was Tuesday the 13th of July. Normally, I am not superstitious, but we did have a little bad luck this day. The first thing that came up was that the police would not let the film crew through town to get on the mountain. Luckily, there was an alternative route they could take. While Katleen and Thierry drove around the several mile detour, Liam and I had planned to get a start up the mountain. As we pulled out of town, Liam said from behind, "daddy I think there is something wrong with my wheel." This usually only means one thing -- flat tire. I was afraid that we would miss Thierry and Katleen so we had to run with the bikes for about a mile to get down to the road to where they would pass. We made it just in time as Katleen and Thierry were coming out of town. I quickly changed the tire. (BTW - I'm getting better at this!) We then headed up the Col. This part of the ride was fantastic. The Col de la Joux Plane starts off with a 10 percent plus grade. We jammed up the mountain with cameras rolling! We picked a spot about halfway down the mountain to sit down with the camera and talk about cycling, Livestrong, the global battle against cancer. It was really cool!

We started to descend again with camera rolling to make it back into town for the start of the day's stage. Towards the end of the descent, I looked back and the Belgian film crew were nowhere to be seen. Had we gone that fast? I think I did remember hearing something unusual. The pop, I had in fact heard, was the car's clutch belt blowing. When they finally made it to the bottom of the mountain, we had to push the car into a local hotel parking lot. Katleen and Thierry remained calm and collected throughout the whole ordeal. After they had calmed the owner of the hotel down and called the TV station in Belgium, we headed off to the start of the stage on foot.

Max and his dad - Photo by Liam Flanagan

Liam and I now have a system. He gets on my shoulders by the team buses with the camera so that he can get a view and we can get some good shots for our blog. It works well, and my shoulders are getting a lot stronger! This day we saw Team Radio Shack roll out. Max Armstrong was there with his mom to wish dad well for the start of the stage it was really cool and Liam got a great photo. He is turning into quite the photographer as well! As we were headed from the buses to the start I looked back and couldn't see the film crew. This time it was a dead camera battery. Jerry had to run all the way back to the car to get another. Good thing he is in really good shape.

I later found out that during the afternoon there was a problem with the internet connection in Morzine. The crew had a really hard time uploading the piece for the evening. They made the deadline, however, which is a credit to just how professional they are! It turned out great. It was something that not even the bad luck of Tueday the 13th could stop.

Morzine says goodbye to the Tour

So -- there it is -- the story behind the story of our segement on Belgian TV. Thank you so much Thierry and Katleen!

I hope that, through the piece, Liam and I were able to represent Livestrong and Cyclists Combating Cancer well!

Live Strong, Train Safe, and Live Well!!!

This is Bill and Liam signing out.


  1. Congrats on a fantastic interview! Go Liam & Bill!

  2. Great interview. Very cool. Brandon and I are leaving tomorrow (Friday) for Revel. We plan to be at the finish on Saturday and the start on Sunday before heading back home. Maybe we'll see you guys!?! We are bringing our bikes to ride the course on Saturday morning. No Col's, but it should be fun.

  3. I'm a friend of Matthew Busche's who lives in NM. It sounds like you are having a great trip. This is your second year in a row, correct. Have a safe trip and best of luck.