At 5am, I am usually hitting the decline of my best Rapid Eye Movement sleep or dreaming that I forgot to wear underwear to work—again.
Not these humans. They run on caffeine, the taste of early morning pastries and bicycles—Tour de France bicycles, to be precise. They are not like us, perhaps a different race of humans (or humans that love races).
But I digress. This year, again, the Mount Bakery has decided to air live viewings of the Tour de France from their downtown location. The coffee’s on by race time, which starts at 5am on this side of the Atlantic, and devoted fans can expect to get their fill of Joe, as well as the opportunity to watch their beloved Tour each morning, with the exception of “rest days,” until the final airing July 22.
I decided it was time to get my Nancy Drew on and investigate the kind of sports enthusiasts willing to dedicate themselves to this early-morning feat. Of course, what this meant is that I, too, had to brave dawn for this extraordinary show of Tour de Frenzy. I was eager to study these devotees—and perhaps indulge in a Crêpes a la Confiture (or two).
First, I would like to speak the obvious, in that most people liken watching sizable sporting events to a few cases of beer, Frito Lays, overly spray-tanned cheerleaders and touchdowns, goals, baskets, etc.
More often than not, these presentations are conveniently aired during the typical, non-work hours. “Monday Night Football” ring a bell? Like anything in life, there are, of course, exceptions to this rule, including awkward World Cup Soccer game times or Wimbledon, but the Tour de France takes place over a span of three weeks and 2,000 miles. The race is a world-beater, which might explain the sport’s extreme devotees. And what complements bike shorts better than a piping hot croissant?
Now on their 10th year, Mount Bakery’s owner Vince Lalonde explains how well received the event has become within the Bellingham community. “There are three guys I call the ‘Board of Directors,’” Lalonde says. “They get here the earliest and help set up the chairs and TVs.”
According to Lalonde, it is not just his loyal customers who patronize the festivities. He says new faces show up each race day curious to understand the goings-on inside his establishment this time of year. (I’m sure the smell of baked goods has something to do with it, as well.)
In addition, inquiring minds are now able to make their way to the Pickford Film Center and catch the Tour when the store is filled to capacity.
“It’s great, because more people are coming every day,” Lalonde says. “The most people we’ve had was 50. The televisions are better, the picture quality is better, and almost every hour that the Tour is on, we would already be open.”
Though weekend riders are the most common attendees, another draw for interested folks are the variety of drawings and prizes Lalonde hands out each day. Everything from T-shirts to complimentary breakfasts are doled out to customers who can predict the winning rider for certain stages of the race. Donations have also come in handy, as customers offer change and paper to assist with better cable and television rentals.
The exciting atmosphere of the event also seems to work up many appetites among viewers. Breakfast begins around 7am, and I highly suggest indulging in the decadent and delicious menu the Mount Bakery has to offer.
“Last week our most popular Crepe of the Day was the ‘Crepes au Rancheros,’” Lalonde says. “I tell people who are worried about calories that it’s all about input and output.” In other words, if the idea of eating buttery croissants seems a contradiction to the health benefits of bicycling, just ride harder, faster and stronger—and pass the syrup.
Full capacity reaches its max around 7:30am, and devoted customers have already picked out their seats by then. Locally roasted coffees and treats make their way from kitchen to table as early as 5am, followed by Mount Bakery’s full breakfast lineup. Spandex is optional, and no prior knowledge of the Tour is required.
“It’s great for everyone,” Lalonde says, “especially for those who are only familiar with the Tour because of Lance Armstrong.”
Finally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge your sweet tooth, discuss the different rider’s fashion statements, calculate body fat percentages and experience everything else that comes with the Mount Bakery’s Tour de France presentation.
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