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How good can you stand it?  That’s as good as you’ll get!         Sonia Choquette

It began on Tuesday, that ground-shaking quiver I feel when I know I’m about to do something out of my box, something that seems impulsive and a little crazy.  Our son, Chris and his girlfriend, Diana were visiting from Salt Lake City where they both are in graduate school, and, this particular morning, we were watching the Tour de France.  I had tried to avoid it this year — over the Fourth of July weekend, purposely keeping away from the lure of the TV and that race.

Although we’re not a family who watches many sports on TV, it was Lance who drew us in years ago and then it was the race itself, that three week spectacle of day to day grueling pelaton effort on a course traversing the towns and countryside and mountains of glorious France that captivated us and made us addicts. We love it all – we love Phil and Paul, the British announcers, love watching the racers fly by the sunflower and lavender fields, through the medieval towns, by castles and cathedrals, up into the snow-capped mountains and on into Paris. We love it so much that, last summer, Cam and I rented a motorhome – we had never driven one before – and followed that race, Lance’s last, right up into that final week, up into those Pyrenees and the epic climbs on Le Tourmelet.

But this summer, we had made no such plans.  This summer we were staying closer to home, saving money, being responsible.  Until Tuesday, when I was pulled into the sound of our British announcers, pulled into the pack of colorful racers, pulled into our new HD TV’s wide-angled views of Normandy and the crowds of spectators, pulled into my addiction for the thrill and the chase and the adventure.  I was right there, back in France with my man and our love for fun.  At the Tour, last year, this man and I were in our youth.  We were the ones who hiked twenty kilometers up the famous Tourmelet, to cheer our guys on, then twenty kilometers back down again to our semi-broken motorhome.  We were the ones who squeezed our way through crowds of journalists after a stage in the sunflower town of Revel to claim a moment with Cam’s hero, British announcer, Phil.  We were the ones who laughed so hard we cried with joy when we ran along side Lance on one stage when it seemed like he had a chance of pulling it together one last time for a stage win.  We loved it all, the brutal days of hiking, our broken motorhome, a week with no showers. It was exhilarating.  And it was not in the cards this year.

Until Tuesday, when I started quivering, when that inner voice started saying, “Oh come on.  What do you really want to do?!?  Follow your heart.”  I tried to ignore it, this quivering excitement, but it was too strong.  And when I told Cam about my intuitive tug, he, too, began to quiver.  “But, I’d have to re-arrange a whole week’s schedule,” he said.  “But, I don’t think we can afford it,” he said.  “My head feels like it’s going to explode, “ he said.  Once again, I tried to dismiss it.  “You’re right,” I said.  “But wouldn’t it be fun!” we both said.  And then I checked airline tickets.  There it was — bargain tickets to Barcelona, and a motorhome, one that is smaller, easier to drive, maybe one where the fridge and the toilet worked this year.

And here we are, on Sunday, the other side of my shaky feeling, the other side of Cam’s bursting head conflict.  Here we are in the second week of the Tour.  As I write, Cam is downstairs, watching Stage Nine, wearing a Skoda hat he caught in a pre-stage parade in a sunflower town.  He’s surrounded by maps of France and the official tour guidebook and descriptions of those final stages in the French Alps. The French Alps!!!  We did it – moved though those jitters and right into a new adventure, this year in lavender country, then up onto the windy country roads of the highest mountains in France.  In one week, we’ll once again be strapped into the seats of our motorhome, chasing that Tour through its final days of racing, once again we’ll be chasing our dream, and going for fun.  How good can you stand it?  That’s as good as you’re going to get!

Helen & Cam enjoying a stage finish at Tour de France 2010

Helen & Cam in Revel, France 2010

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