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.

THIS is why I’m excited about getting up early tomorrow morning!

kuurne_brussel_kuurne
OK, you tell me. Is this the coolest winner’s trophy or what? Can you come up with anything that better captures the spirit of the “Classics” part of the bike racing season?
At some point today I realized… tomorrow morning, the professional cycling season really gets underway. Two early classics, back-to-back, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (how’s that for an odd name?) taking place tomorrow morning, and the race for the trophy above the very next day.

These are really tough races. Wind, rain, snow… the weather in Belgium this time of year is likely why the locals drink so much. The year’s weather is actually pretty nice; mid-40s, no rain. What will make these races interesting then? Junk climbs. Tons of them. These courses are peppered with short, steep climbs that require 110% effort to get over with the leaders. These are not races that can be won by sucking wheels.

Add in the fact that this is the first real Euro race of the season, with everyone wanting to show what they’re made of, and of course we, the fans, want to see what shape guys like Sagan and Gilbert might be in. The guys who aren’t stars are going to be trying to ride their way into a spot on their team’s Paris Roubaix squad, while the older vets will be looking to not get dropped when things get tough.

Finally, it’s been a long time since the Tour de France, but with racing starting up again, it seems not so far away. So tonight, for the first time in a long while, I’m excited about getting up and watching a bike race!

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Hydrocarbon loading and missing France

smoked_outJust a couple weeks ago I couldn’t imagine a scene like you see above; partly because you don’t see large trucks like the White Ram 350, license plate# 819 1689, in France. And partly because, if you did, they’d likely be friendlier towards cyclists! Fortunately he wasn’t driving erratically so we were never fearful he was going to do something stupid and reckless.

Nice morning, as usual, and without the fog up on Skyline that we had on Tuesday’s ride. No leg warmers needed! Both Kevins showed up, along with Karen, Eric, Karl and, for the Kings segment, there was somebody waiting at the base of Huddart whom I didn’t see again, and mistakenly thought it was Marcus (because it would often be the case that I’d see Marcus only briefly at the start of a climb, and never again, as there’s no way I can come close to his speed on a climb). The climb up Kings was steady but unspectacular, punctuated by a stop to see if we could fix Eric’s loose crank arm (we couldn’t because we hadn’t yet transferred the multi tools from our travel bikes to our regular bikes).

I do miss France. It would be really nice if France were in the Southern Hemisphere, so during our slower (and colder) winter months, I could spend a bit more time there, without feeling like I’m abandoning the business. But that’s not the case; the reality is that the weather in France, in the areas I enjoy riding, closely mirrors our weather here (with the exception that the higher altitudes would be getting snow).

If I was a person of means, no question I’d have a place in southern France, likely in the Pyrenees. I’d want to spend about half the summer there, riding the familiar and exploring the unfamiliar. An interesting thing to think about, because such dreams have a definitive timeframe in which they could evolve into something real; at what age would I no longer be able to climb the big mountains I enjoy so much? So far, I can still ride pretty much wherever I want without thinking my body will break in half. How much longer? My plan is to just keep moving, let momentum keep me going, for as long as I can. Perhaps the most-tangible aspect of approaching a time where I can’t ride like I’d like to is found in my continuing annual trips to France. Who knows how much longer I’ll be strong enough, and thus incentive to keep going while I can. –Mike–

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