July 18, 2005
REPORT FROM THE TOUR DE FRANCE
I am back in the States as of last
night. I wanted to provide you with some insight to the trip I had the
last 10 days to France. I have a group of friends that I have ridden
bikes with for many years. We have gone together on 7 or 8 “Ride the
Rockies” trips which stretch through the mountains of Colorado averaging
60-80 miles per day. We are Team Merkin. We have not been on a bike tour
for a number of years so this trip to France was kind of a reunion tour.
You know, like an old rock and roll band that doesn’t yet know it is all
but washed up. Actually, the boys trained hard and, for the most part,
we are very strong riders.
The trip was organized by Trek
Travel, who is associated with Trek bicycles. This is, of course, the
bike Lance Armstrong rides. Consequently, Trek had some pretty good
inroads as far as positions to watch the Tour, etc.
Our first 3 days were more or less
warm ups for bigger things to come. We rode 60+ mile trips through the
wine country out of Beaune. Then, we rode to Lake Annecy, and climbed
the Col de Folclaz, which is a category 1 climb. The Tour did not climb
this Col this year but it was featured on last year’s tour route.
Incredibly steep for the last 3 or 4 Kilometers but not a particularly
long climb. The downhill was absolutely kick ass with some stretches
that let us exceed 45 miles per hour. The Alps are just fantastic. I
kept expecting the Von Trapps to come around a corner and sing to the
tune of all the cowbells. We cooled down with a swim in Lake Annecy.
Finally on our fourth day we rode
over 2 categorized climbs and ended up in Beauford where the Tour riders
were coming through. We climbed the hill out of town for 7 kilometers to
find a good viewing spot. The crowds were on fire. This is like a moving
Superbowl. I did not realize that there is a caravan that precedes the
Tour riders by about an hour. This is a Parade of custom cars and trucks
with dancing girls, stereos, etc. They throw out souvenirs and all
matter of trash and trinkets. After the riders passed, we biked to
Albertville to view the Tour’s finish on TV at a bar.
Day 5 we climbed the Col de la
Madeline which is an “out of category” climb that was 25 kilometers
long. At the mountains top we watched the racers scream by as we yelled
Day 6 the Tour passed through
Digne-lesBains and then circled up in the hills around town and finished
back in town. This gave us an opportunity for 2 good views. It just
doesn’t get much better.
A couple of fells stayed in Paris
for a few days for R&R after our ride. I would tell you about it but
then I would have to….well you get it.