Who's heading to France for the Tour this year?

Apr 28, 2009
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I'll be making the trip for the last week of the tour this year. I'll be bringing the bike and plan on doing a lot of both spectating AND riding.

Just wanted to start a thread for those of us who will be there to toss around travel tips, ride ideas etc.

Let's hear it...
 
Apr 22, 2009
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I'll be there! :D Planning on heading up the Ventoux to catch the stage finish, along with however many thousands of others - hoping it will be a bit different from watching the prologue.

If anyone has any awesome costume suggestions, share away - the best I've got right now is a legion of Kraftwerk TdF jerseys (as modelled in the kit thread).

Now I just have to try and get my sorry **** in better shape so I can think about hauling self+bike up big French hills, who knows, maybe even the Ventoux? :eek:
 
Apr 12, 2009
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can't go to france this year gotta work, plus I have my newborn son gotta stay home go to work and play with my son
 
Not going this year but went last year, seen the stages won by Ricco (was on the Aspin) & Piepoli(Hautacam). I was at the Giro also where I seen the stages won by Sella, nice sequence there methinks!!!

Also cycled Alpe d'Huez, Col du Montegenevre, Iozard, Soulor/Aubisque, Tourmalet. I had zero fitness so it wasnt easy, Alpe d'Huez(1hr 20) was tough but Tourmalet(2hrs) was sheer hell, maybe it was the heat. The cafe at the top is a total rip off. Drove up Ventoux, very, very scary looking.

Drove around France in my car and camped, reccomend renting a car to get around. You can ride most of the climbs the day of the stage but do it early before they stop guys an hour before the pros arrive, I got stopped halfway up Hautacan last year but luckily there was a huge TV screen nearby so was very cool. Also try to have a TV or radio or something to keep track of what is going on.

Sounds silly but try to wear a jersey from your own country, especially if you are on your own, halfway up the Aspin I passed a guy and he started talking to me cause I was wearing an Irish shirt, he was South African. Same on Hautacam, an American started to talk to me cause I had a Postal top, even though I am not a Lance fan. Helps with meeting people.

Oh yeah, I found the French to be very nice people, very helpful even though my French was very limited and there didnt seem to be any anti-english speaking agenda. You even get a few 'allez's as you go up the climbs. Great.

If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to provide more info, advice etc.
 
Apr 10, 2009
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I wish I was going this year. I went in 2004. I climbed L' Aubisque, the Solour, Col d' Aspin, the Tourmalet (skipped Hautacam). Then did the Ventoux, climbed out of Grenoble to Villar d Lans and climbed Alpe d' Huez the day after the TT. You'd better bring fitness or gearing one or the other.

I forgot to add the descents are amazing!!
 
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Anonymous

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we will be in paris again, think its my fifth time now..

sadly with the wife teaching and not breaking up till a few days before the end of the tour other stages are not viable.. :/ so we shall be sat in a bar watching the stages on friday and saturday and then out in our usual spot on the champs elysees on the sunday.. its our wedding anniversary on the 29th so as soon as she breaks up we head off to paris and have a week there.

If there is anyone in paris on the saturday, we have a little bar we head to with very cheap beer (2e50 a pint), who put the cylcing on the big screen tv for us so we shall be watching ventoux from the comfort of an armchair, so anyone in paris that satuday get in touch.. weve got a couple of guys we meet up with each year.. wouldnt hurt to have more.. :D
 
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Anonymous

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pmcg76 said:
Sounds silly but try to wear a jersey from your own country, especially if you are on your own, halfway up the Aspin I passed a guy and he started talking to me cause I was wearing an Irish shirt, he was South African. Same on Hautacam, an American started to talk to me cause I had a Postal top, even though I am not a Lance fan. Helps with meeting people.

not silly at all.. we generally wear my "vintage" kas, and pdm shirts.. which strangely results in lots of dutch people coming up to us shouting "sean kelly" and pointing and waving..
 
Mar 11, 2009
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dimspace said:
not silly at all.. we generally wear my "vintage" kas, and pdm shirts.. which strangely results in lots of dutch people coming up to us shouting "sean kelly" and pointing and waving..


omg

that might have been me :(
 
Apr 1, 2009
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I'll be in France and not sure which stage to go and see. Of course the penultimate stage would be the best but I'm thinking most people have the same Idea.

I was thinking of mountain stages 16 or 17. Of course I still want to see Mont Ventoux. How early do you need to head up? some one told me two or three days if you want find a parking spot/camp spot? I wouldn't mind riding up but I have my wife in tow so that is not really an options, any suggestions would be great.
 
dimspace said:
not silly at all.. we generally wear my "vintage" kas, and pdm shirts.. which strangely results in lots of dutch people coming up to us shouting "sean kelly" and pointing and waving..

Or wear jerseys from events you've done.

I met other people who had done the Vail Ultra 100, or the Death Ride due to the fact of wearing the event jersey.
 
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Anonymous

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Animal said:
Or wear jerseys from events you've done.

I met other people who had done the Vail Ultra 100, or the Death Ride due to the fact of wearing the event jersey.

yeh.. can cause confusion wearing shirts though... rather muddled situation year before last when on the way back to our hotel passed the csc one.. several riders said hello and stopped for a while and chatted, but due to some distinct language barriers "my husband had these shirts from when he started riding in the 80's" translated as "my husband road for kas and pdm in the eighties.."
 
St. Elia said:
I was thinking of mountain stages 16 or 17. Of course I still want to see Mont Ventoux. How early do you need to head up? some one told me two or three days if you want find a parking spot/camp spot? I wouldn't mind riding up but I have my wife in tow so that is not really an options, any suggestions would be great.

Ditch the wife!!! Only joking.

Last year I camped at the base of Hautacam in a campsite and cycled up but most people just walked up, it was Bastille day so there were a lot of people, you need to start walking early(morning) if you want to get up there near the top for the race.

If you are planning on going to Ventoux, I would advise getting there a few days in advance if planning to stay on the mountain or definitely book a campsite at the base. Bring plenty of refreshments.

Stages 16/17 are not summit finishes so it should not be as busy on the climbs. Still, try to get there early to get a spot.

Sorry, thats all I can offer other than getting the wife out on her bike, she still has over 2 months to get ready.
 
Apr 16, 2009
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pmessal said:
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I'll be making the trip for the last week of the tour this year. I'll be bringing the bike and plan on doing a lot of both spectating AND riding.

Just wanted to start a thread for those of us who will be there to toss around travel tips, ride ideas etc.

Let's hear it...

I'm in France for almost a month over July cycling with my wife (taking our bikes). We'll be following the last two weeks of the TDF. Doing a self-guided trip through Provence and also climbing Alpe d'Huez.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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In France but nowhere near the route - will watch what I can where I can and of course get my daily Equipe fix
 
Mar 10, 2009
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This year is lucky #7 for me. I arrive Milan on the 6th and leave the 29th. Driving straight to the Alps (La Salle des Alpes). Will make that my home base, and do day trips to Alpine stages with overnights to Ventoux and others. Fired up!

And I always wear my own team kit, as there is typically a contingent of DC-based riders who head over and the kit makes for good connections.
 
May 6, 2009
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fergnago said:
last 2 weeks for me! im a tour virgin. sooo looking forward to it.:)

You'll love it. I did it in 2007 and it was worth every penny I paid for it. I did Pyrennes to Paris with a mate from the same cycling club I'm in and had a great time (we were on a tour group).

I did the Plateau-de-Beille (the one Contador won his stage) and I spent the time with Levi Leiphemier's family (nice people, even though his old man is a GWB fan) and the bloke you see at the GT's and ToC wearing the helmet with giant antler's on top and running alongside the peloton. Next day was the Port de Balès (Vino "won") and had support given to me in both French and Basque. Did the Tourmalet and rode to the start in Pau and had a chat with David Millar.

If your riding, bring a jacket when you get to the top of a mountain, trust me you will need it as it is quite cold up the top of the mountain's you have ridden over. The Gendarmerie's are friendly if you say hello or need to ask for directions, but if they say something, they mean it and it would not be wise to argue. But aside from that, it is a great experience and I wish I was going this year.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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fergnago said:
last 2 weeks for me! im a tour virgin. sooo looking forward to it.:)
Really, think about that.

You leave home/your hotel at dawn.

You reach the place only not to find a parking place in miles.

You climb with your bicycle and are ridiculed by the other people camped at the roadside.

All the best spots are already taken.

You finally find a spot and camp there, in fear of someone taking it. At the same time you will have to keep an eye on your bicycle and belongings all the time.

You spend hours under a hot, skin burning sun. Or alternatively, under a cold rain. You get hungry and there is no bathroom. Hopefully you didn't take your significant other with you, or it would mean bad for your relationship.

The stage is living interesting moments, but... you know nothing about what is happening. And no, your mobile phone finds no network.

Then you have to endure that boring and loud long procession of advertising cars.

Then plenty of motorcycles, with officers wildly gesturing to you and intimating you to get even farther on the roadside, at the cost of falling down the slope. Now you see even less.

Then five seconds and they are gone. The cyclists that is. And obviously you were either messing with your camera or trying to associate a name to that racer's jersey number by reading the start list you printed in too small a font - so actually you didn't see anything.

And then two hours of chaos trying first to descend back to the parked car amidst people on foot or on bikes, cars, caravans, trucks, buses - including some of the same racers who think they are still in the race and are in a hurry and go down at 90 km/h, regardless of the so full road. And other two hours of traffic jam later. In the evening you desperately try to get from the brief sports news on TV who won and what happened.

Why would anyone do anything like that? ;)

Read my answer on my blog next week.
 
You old misery guts!

Both times I went (2000, and 2003) it was fantastic.

Full day rides with like-minded riders, plus spectating the race.

And every bar you stop at for a snack has the Tour on TV.

The utter chaos is only on moutaintop finishes, so avoid them - you don't get to see much.

I was at the top of Luz Ardiden in 2003, and got bashed out of the way by a huge gendarmerie moto which was escorting Armstrong. And the crowds were so insane that you could not get a view.

But on the bright side, we got about 80 miles riding in that day including the Tourmalet, and Luz Ardiden.
 
May 6, 2009
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We were standing on top of the Tourmalet and wondering whether or not to do Luz Ardiden, decided against it. It was on the rest day and we saw Barloworld out on a training ride around Lourdes. We ended up the highway and I have to say we must of averaged about 45km/h the whole time out of fear for our lives.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I was kind of tongue in cheek. :)

Animal said:
The utter chaos is only on moutaintop finishes, so avoid them - you don't get to see much.
On the other hand the decisive action is often only there, so they are worth some extra "suffering". You need not be at the last couple of kilometers.
As time = distance / speed, for most rider viewing time try to find a steep spot (less speed) at the end of a "long" (up to 100 meters/yards or more) straight (more distance). If you are at the end of a straight, that is on a turn, you need not be able to see up, as a) riders that have already passed show their backs at you and it's nothing particularly interesting, and b) you'll turn to watch down anyway, as there soon will be other riders coming.

Obviously you need to find a spot where you actually see something (that is, not behind five ranks of spectators), but better if there are plenty of others too! (not that there is any risk of spectators missing in the climbs of Tour...). Having the place full of screaming people from everywhere around the world definitely adds to the excitement and experience.

***

The first time I watched a GT live there were two aspects that struck me most - and they still do, and make it worthwhile!

1) the expectation. It starts with the "caravan", and motorcycles, and cars, and so on. You are there and wait and wait and tension is mounting. At some time you see a helicopter very high in the sky - a sign that they are slowly approaching! Then come other motorcycles, then comes the race director's car. You are already excited and you hear the roar of people "downhill" yelling. The most spectacular moment is when another helicopter rises from behind the trees down the slope - it reminds of the appearance of the helicopters in Apocalypse Now, and suddenly there he is, the hero of the day, which leads to...

2) the riders. You see them on TV, and you see how each one is different. There is the fat one (Commesso), the lean one (Rasmussen), and the muscle one (sprinters). Many have their own, often ugly, riding style. On closeups you see them suffer, you see them lose time on the best. But the live experience is completely different. They all - even those struggling for the time cut, even the one who fell, even the one who is losing the GT - they all are like perfectly designed machines, like a carnivore is a perfect product of millions of years of evolution. Silently they go, a determined look in their eyes watching straight ahead, a perfect symbiosis of man and machine. No one of them is fat, and they all, both lean climbers and powerful sprinters, have perfect bodies that (seemingly!) effortlessly advance towards their goal.

I am lucky enough to being able to witness other sports events live at world class level, from football (soccer) to motorcycling, but I never experienced anything of the sort in these other sports.
 
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Anonymous

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due to the joys of work (the wife is a teacher) the stages are generally out for us (we also dont drive), so its usually the last stage in paris...

not the most exciting stage to watch, but an amazing experience.. grabbing a spot by the barriers at 7am, standing for 7 hours+ waiting for the race, watching them whizz by so quick you cant see them.. :D

each year weve been lucky enough to be at the top at the turn though, so when the team photos are there you get to see all the guys, usually grab a few words with some.. its just great to be able to congratulate every single one of them that has managed to finish.. from first, down to last the response every single one of them gets (apart strangely from cadel evans) is amazing..