Thursday, July 6, 2023

Tour de France - go see it.

So, a few years ago in France - 2018 to be precise - we're in Tain l'Hermitage. I lean my bike against the wall of the bike store across the street from our apartment and wander in to borrow a pump. Coming out I see a wiry old (probably my age!) guy looking at my bike, he's seen the "I support Lance Armstrong" sticker and says he kinda liked him too. I tell him I'm thinking of riding Alpe d'Huez and Croix de Fer for a 3,000m day. He said that would be hard but the toughest climb he'd ever had was the Col de la Bonnette in the Tour. "In the Tour?", I say. He tells me he rode in the TDF twice in the 1970's which was before teams had luxury buses and only the stars stayed in hotels while the rest showered and slept on cots in school gyms. I enjoy our chat, return the pump and the store owner tells me the guy still rides and like me they enjoy his stories. I haven't seen him since, wish I could remember his name, I'd like to hear more and maybe he'd ride with me.

Well the Tour is on TV right now if you want to see the race. But there's so much more that you won't see.


It is one of the biggest parts of the Tour. Before every stage the caravan of sponsors floats will drive the course from start to finish. On a long stage it'll stretch more than 10 kilometers and by the end of the Tour they'll have thrown over 15 million items to the roadside fans - hats, t-shirts, musettes, key chains, cakes, water, candy, you name it. I still wear my Festina hat from 2015 while riding.


This'll happen after the caravan has passed. The start town center is closed off. There's tent studios set up for the media, journalists with their cameras and vans, a band thumping out music, souvenir stands, food trucks and thousands of fans but no riders. Then close to a mile of 22 team buses each followed by 6 cars covered with bicycles will arrive. Amazingly the buses are parked so the public can see the riders sign in and prepare for the days racing. Many riders will stop for selfies with fans on their way to the start area - so cool.

Jocelyne and I were fortunate enough to see the Tour in 2015 and it was fantastic. We went with Pyrenees Multisport. Ian and Julie Wright, two Brits, will transport you to and from Toulouse airport and you'll stay in their large house where they'll serve you cyclist sized meals for breakfast and supper every day. You'll have seven days of great cycling in the Pyrenees and experience the Tour de France. It'll cost you about $1600 including a carbon bike - just take your clothes and Garmin.

IF YOU DON'T GO YOU WON'T STAND ON A MOUNTAIN eating hamburgers and hotdogs and know that the riders are coming because you can hear and see the helicopters below you!

Of course there are other tours you can take. I'm not paid to promote Pyrenees Multisport and they have had no input or knowledge of this article. It's just one reasonably priced option which we thoroughly enjoyed.

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