Stuttering in France Part 3

Chasing the Tour wasn’t too difficult for these early stages — the peloton traveled on smaller roads near a larger highway. So right after Epernay, we made for the highway, and made as much time as we could.

We looked at the map and found a small town — Fresnes-en-Woëvre. It was sort of near the highway, and the peloton would be there shortly — there is a timetable on the Tour’s Web site. So we parked up about 200 meters away and walked over to the route.

There were a bunch of people from the small town just standing around. No cars were going through yet. As we walked around a little (to take some photos of sunflowers, etc.,) we ran into an older man. We said hello, but he realized that we didn’t speak French. And he called to some people across the road — in French, he said we don’t speak French! And did anybody speak English? No!

Ah, here was my chance! So I said to this older man (in French!) that yes, I did speak French. He was quite surprised! So, in whatever French I could muster, I explained to him that we were from America, we were here to chase the Tour, and that we worked as engineers. I also said we just arrived yesterday, and that we would be leaving tomorrow. (Yeah, I know, it’s real simple stuff. But seriously, this was a huge win for me).

Then he began talking, and it was a bit difficult to understand. But I did make out that he was retired, and he had worked with disabled children when he was working.

And that was pretty much that!

Did I think about stuttering at all while talking to the old man? Not really. I was more focused on what I wanted to say and making sure I had some sort of accent so he would understand me. If I didn’t say something, it wasn’t because I was avoiding — it’s because I flat out didn’t know how to express myself.

But just to review: Did I approach a complete stranger? Yes. Was I anxious about it? Yes. Did I stutter? Eh, maybe a little. Did the world end? No. No it didn’t. Positive reinforcement.

We had brought along a large American flag to wave around on the side of the road. Using a tour tracking app, we found out that American Matthew Busche was in the breakaway! So as they were about to go past, we busted out the big flag and screamed Matthew’s name. They went by in a blur, but it was still really exciting. A few moments later the peloton went by.

Then we hustled back to the rental car, checked the map, and pointed ourselves toward Pannes.

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