Meeting Amazing People at Le Tour

I am so weary from riding in the Yorkshire Dales today. Do not underestimate the difficulty of Stage 1 and 2 in the 2014 Tour De France. I rode until my legs went from screaming at me to just laughing, as in “you’ve got to be kidding”.  The hills are steep (some 18% grades today!) and come super fast after a descent, so the winner tomorrow will be really good at shifting gears.

 I brought a California state flag and a sharpie to ask cyclists to sign. I had a short list in my head of who I really want to sign the flag. The top three were Greg Lemond, Jens Voigt and Fabian Cancellera. Leaving the Leeds Arena I saw Greg Lemond astride his bike outside! My Trek Travel teammate Sandy and I asked for autographs and and her husband Brian snapped photos. The first US Tour champion, and three time winner was super gracious. It was a thrill to share with him that he is the reason I am a cycling fan.

Last night Bob Roll signed my flag (that is Sandy and Brian posing for a photo with him). Then today I met the entire Trek Racing Team. They signed including Jens and Fabian. My top 3 and the Tour has not yet started! Plus Sandy spotted Alberto Contador in the hotel and he signed. I am elated. Thanks Trek Travel.  Now I am expanding my list: Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Andrew Talansky.

Planning My Tour de France 2014 Adventure

Not sure if it is the caffeine (and sugar) I consumed at lunch or the sheer thrill of booking two legs of my Tour de France Adventure earlier today. I am stoked. I put a $100 deposit with Thomson Bike Tours so they would send me an announcement about their spectator tours as soon as they came available.

Route Map of Tour de France 2014
Route Map of Tour de France 2014

I received the email this morning and already booked two tours! I previously determined that mountain stages are easier to view with help from a tour company. I learned on October 23 that le Tour 2014 has 3 mountain ranges! I looked at the tour operators sanctioned by the Tour de France and zeroed in on Trek Tours and Thomson Bike Tours as they are English speaking.

Thomson especially offers more for spectators in the mountains. This morning I spent some time looking at the itineraries of the Alps trip and the Pyrenees and Paris trip. The Alps trip offers better access to 3 mountain stages, but substitutes site-seeing instead of Stage 12. They organize it so we will stay every night in Albertville and then transport us to the various stages. I can spend my travel energy on le Tour, not shifting hotels.  I weighed not viewing the start or finish of Stage 12 with the upside of a tour operator worrying about the details for me and pressed “Book this Trip”.

The second trip is longer and tackles more challenging logistics. It offers 5 nights in St Lary and 2 nights in Paris. There is another trade-off: travelling to Paris instead of viewing the 20th stage, the time trial. By this time I will have been travelling for a month and I anticipate appreciating anyone who is willing to sort out my details.

I have not gone on organized tours very often. It can be challenging moving about with a group of people (any number greater than 4). Yet there is also built in camaraderie and professional guides offer greater knowledge and access.

I also plan to start le Tour with Trek Tours. This is a trip for cyclists, not spectators. For this trip (not yet published), I am improving my cycling ability and endurance. I am purposefully planning it for the start of my adventure when my energy level will be at the highest level (and before the mountains). I am so excited about riding from Cambridge to London that I want to jump up and down.

One of the great benefits of planning your own travel is that it increases your overall enthusiasm and anticipation for the adventure.  I will be traveling on my own until I get to Yorkshire, and then again when I leave Trek Tours (probably in Reims).  I have to sort out hotels, and transportation between towns (I am not worried about food in France!) until the first rest day on July 15, about 2 weeks into my trip.

The good news is that my friends the Watson-Lovells will be coming from their Germany adventure to join me for one or two days during that period. Brian is very good at travel planning, so it is good to have someone to consult for part of that on-my-own section.

I also have a couple of other gaps that I will need to sort out lodging and/or transportation. Then I will stop planning the details because I want to leave room for the spontaneous delights of the unexpected.