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The Guinness of Oz: Arnie, gnomes and Cluseau on the hunt

The biggest letdown of the Tour de France so far was today’s first public sighting of the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at Narbonne before the start of stage 11. If you’re thinking about backing big Arnie for the governorship of California, here’s some advice I’ll offer for free: Don’t base your vote on what you see on film. Hey, don’t say you wouldn’t think of voting for him. After all, Ronald Reagan didn’t do too badly in public office for all the B-grade acting in his career, did he? First myth to blow about big Arnie though is that he isn’t. Big, that is. Certainly not as big as

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By Andrew Hood

The biggest letdown of the Tour de France so far was today’s first public sighting of the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, at Narbonne before the start of stage 11.

If you’re thinking about backing big Arnie for the governorship of California, here’s some advice I’ll offer for free: Don’t base your vote on what you see on film.

Hey, don’t say you wouldn’t think of voting for him. After all, Ronald Reagan didn’t do too badly in public office for all the B-grade acting in his career, did he?

First myth to blow about big Arnie though is that he isn’t. Big, that is. Certainly not as big as the wave of cameramen that was staggering backward as they filmed him taking a supposed casual stroll.

It was only when we saw the phalanx of film crews following him in the crowded confines of the start Village that we realized who was at the center of it. Even then, it still took a double take to realize who it was. Dressed in a white flannel shirt, khaki, and a seemingly forced but chiseled smile, there was no aura of a Hollywood star.

Forget the towering and all-conquering Terminator. Forget the fear and the intimidation. All we saw was a relatively portly and shorter than imagined man with dyed rat-brown hair.

If promoting his next film, Terminator III — due for release in France on August 6 — was cause for Arnie’s presence, then let’s say it was good for him that we saw little of him.

The Terminator III float in the Tour caravan is doing a much better job — especially the bust of Arnie in full black Terminator regalia and with deep lacerations to his face.

Speaking of the caravan, good news for the day was the welcomed and crowd-pleasing return of the Gifi gnome, rebuilt after being decapitated in an accident in the Alps.

The gnome’s beaming smile breathed life back to the Gifi toy store floats that, since the July 5 start, has also proudly placed on display Quack the rubber ducky and Pinky the piglet.

We swear that crickets were signing louder than ever as the gnome led the Tour through the Aude and Tarn regions before entering the Haute Garonne of southwestern France.

It must have been our joy of seeing the Gifi gnome that saw the VeloNews car once again fall foul of the Tour police: this time with VN Euro man Andy Hood behind the wheel.

After weaving between the Gifi floats we were pulled over. And low and behold, behind the speed gun was the same Garde Republicaine officer who nabbed John Wilcockson last week.

This time the gun read 96 kph. And for the record, “Detective Cluseau” didn’t take it further. Instead he let us off with a warning — mildly surprised, we reckon, that John was in the passenger seat after walking up to our black-tinted window saying: “This is the second time.”

Who will be next? One thing is sure, it won’t be me. I don’t even drive. Never have. Never will.