Category Archives: Tdf trip planning

Information on seeing the Tour de France in person, including the process I go through myself each year- figuring out the TdF route, finding places to stay, rental cars, trains & more.

What is it about me and France?

First things first; my wife’s operation to rumove a tumor from her lung last Friday was successful, although she had to spend two nights there instead of one, because the lung operated on didn’t reinflate as quickly as hoped. But Sunday I got to take her home and she’s doing pretty well. A bit sore on that side, but in her own view, better than expected. We’ll be meeting with her Oncologist a month from now after another PET scan to see what the future looks like.

Now the France thing. How can you not like a place where one of the best places in town to eat is all about PAIN? You’ll sometimes see a Maison du Pain, which a half-translation comes out to House of Pain. The truth is that pain, in French, means bread, so when you see “pain” you can generally think of awesome pastries and sandwiches at reasonable prices.

The place in the photo is in Lourdes, in the Pyrenees foothills. You can view it in Google Maps here. I travel with my son Kevin pretty much every single July to see the Tour de France and ride up the toughest mountains on offer. For fun. Wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if not for the great food though.

We have two places we normally stay, one in Lourdes (adjacent to the train station) and the other in Grenoble (again, close to a train station). Why close to train stations? Because we get around either by bike or bike & train, using local trains to extend our reach. I try very hard to avoid having to rent a car and deal with all the hassles that entails. This past July was unusual in choosing Annecy as our base. We’ve visited Annecy previously but never stayed. It worked out surprisingly well this year. Next year could be tough though; the route will actually be announced today, with rumors that there really won’t be any central point you can see many stages from. Lots and lots of travel between each stage, which might require using a car.

More shortly; getting pretty late (12:46am). –Mike–

Does it ever get old? Well, yeah…

Back from France for just a few days and life is back to normal. Kevin’s version of normal anyway. The entire time we were in France, 10 days, Kevin had a total of 2 seizures, one of which was pretty inconsequential. The other was a bit of fun for me; it was the last stage we saw, shortly after the finish, very crowded, and that’s when Kevin decides to have a seizure. I mean sure, better than on a bike, but I’m having to explain to multiple gendarmes and passers-by that Kevin is going to be fine, this is normal for him, nothing to see here, move along.

10 days, a lot of riding in high heat, an occasional post-ride beer (Kevin doesn’t otherwise drink; pretty much same with me), less sleep than normal, all sorts of things that you might think could trigger a seizure because they’re different, not expected, not in line with the programming of the “extra” brain he has, sitting on top of his semi-normal brain. But that’s not what happened. And there was a lot of extra brain stimulation too; you don’t normally get “kidnapped” and force-fed oysters and chase it with a chugged glass of wine. 🙂

But get Kevin back on home turf and it’s seizure time again. Multiple seizures per day sometimes. I really shouldn’t be over-thinking this; clearly I should try and get Kaiser to pay for extended trips to France for Kevin. And of course, someone should be there to make sure everything’s going ok, just in case, and who’s more qualified at traveling through France on a bike than me?

But we have to deal with the hand we’re dealt, and presently that hand has us back home again, with Kevin flying up the hills ahead of me, and I have to wonder, coming around the next corner, if I’m going to find Kevin on the ground. Well, as can be seen in the photo above, that’s what greeted me, just below the archery range. This had been a pretty long one too, about 7 minutes before he was back up on his feet, er, pedals. Fortunately, he’s following protocol when on his bike, and at the first sign of something going on (he has a warning, called an “aura”, prior the seizure taking control) he gets off the bike and lies on the ground. It must look interesting to someone seeing it happen; this guy is flying up the hill on a bike, then suddenly pulls over to the side of the road and lies on the ground.

Up until that point Kevin had a near-record time for Kings, maybe just 15 seconds off. That was Tuesday. Thursday? No seizure, at least not on his bike (think he had a couple at the shop later on) but came within just 6 seconds of his best-ever time up Kings through the park. Me? I was doing not-so-badly on Tuesday, looking at a pretty decent time until I had to stop for Kevin. Thursday? Way, way slower. Probably not helped by having to try and repair a dishwasher hose the night before.

Hard to believe a week ago was our travel day from Annecy to Colmar, followed by one of our best rides the next day, Stage 20, the last mountain stage of the ‘Tour. By Wednesday I’d recovered from most of my jet-lag, so right now I feel pretty much at home. Being at home is nice; I missed my wife, and she missed me. But it’s nice, for 8 or 9 days a year, to be focused on riding a bike and eating french pastry and drinking a ton of Orangina.