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.

Le Tour is just 6 weeks away…

Tough to know if I’m ready for France. Actually, not so tough at all. I’m ready. Whether that means I’ll be as strong as I’d like to be is almost irrelevant. I’m ready now. It’s been a tough past 4 or 5 months, but I’m beginning to ride a bit stronger, the weather is getting a bit better week by week, and the coverage of the Giro is getting me into the mood of, well, being someplace else.

I could, perhaps should, feel bad about leaving the shop during July, when things are pretty busy, but I’ve got a great staff in place, led by BeckyJ and MikeF. I’d just like things to settle down just a little bit and seem normal for a few days at a time, instead of what seems to be a constant feast or famine. And of course it would be nice if the various health issues in my family would stabilize too, like Kevin’s final epilepsy surgery (now scheduled for June 6th, a fair amount later than I’d expected) and Karen’s chemo for her thankfully-not-metastasized breast cancer.

Right, the ride this morning. Karen, Karl, JR, Marcus, George & Eric. First ride with temps getting to 60+ by the end; I actually felt slightly overdressed in base layer and leg warmers! Nothing too fast today, which didn’t bother me.

Now back to the Tour de France. I got thinking about some of the past years, and the theme music that, I don’t think, has been equaled since. Like what’s below.

I know what follows is Phil Ligget and his, to many, tiresomely-repeated phrases and perhaps excessive rooting for the home-town riders (for broadcasts in the US, that would be riders from… the US). I never thought that was so bad, to tell you the truth.

I am so ready for France. For the long flights, for the transfers from CDG to Montparnasse train station, the long train ride to Lourdes, several days in the Pyrenees followed by a train to Avignon, seeing the Ventoux stage on Bastille day… it’s like a comfortable old shoe. It’s nearly as much routine as my Tuesday/Thursday ride up Kings. Time to play the “good” theme music once again! And to get ready for what, to me, has become the “sound” of France; that set of tones unmistakably associated with French trains…

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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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