Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Tour de France - the things I do for this crazy race!
It's 5:00 in the morning in Colorado, and I've been up since 2:30! The hour before my alarm went off I barely slept anyway, anticipating the wake up long before it arrived. I tried to go to bed early, but that just doesn't work at times, especially if you're excited about something.
Why on earth would I interrupt my sleep like that? Well, today the Tour de France official route was announced in Paris at 11:00 Paris time. I seem to remember it happening a little later in the past as I don't remember ever having gotten up this early, but this is about the 6th time I've set this early morning aside! I even got a sub for my Spin class which starts in one hour....I guess I could have taught it, but I'm going back to bed as soon as I finish this post.
It's more than just my passion for the Tour that gets me up...I need to know where to find hotels for my tours! The route was leaked in bits and pieces for the past month, so tour operators like me had an inkling where it would be, but you just never know. I must compete for hotel rooms with other tour operators from all over the world, who also got up at the same time. The available hotel rooms first go to the Tour de France organizers, teams and support staff and the media before the public has access to them. So the pool of available good quality rooms is limited.
And then it's a mad dash among the rest of us in the world. Many tour operators have booked lots of rooms over a lot of days in areas where they assume the Tour will go, so I have to get on the waiting list for some hotels, hoping they have cancellations. Other issues are that some hotels want non-refundable deposits NOW, or you don't get your rooms.
Nothing is quite yet set for my tours, as I'm waiting for email confirmations, but you can be assured that I have at least one, if not two great tours planned, one to the Alpes and perhaps one to the Pyrenées. In the Alpes we'll ride the incredible Col de la Colombiere (which I did with my 2007 group) and go see the time trial around Lac Annecy (that's going to be cool! It's such a beautiful lake). Then we'll shuttle down to Provence to ride the penultimate stage up Le Mont Ventoux, probably the most exciting stage of next year's Tour. We'll watch the finish on TV after having ridden that day through the vineyards and medieval villages of the Lubéron, one of the most scenic parts of France. No crazy dash to Paris for the finish - yeah it's fun, but I can tell you, it's also anti-climactic and requires standing for 6-8 hours waiting for the teams to arrive - it's more fun to ride in Provence and watch it on TV.
And I'm also working on a tour in the Pyrenées, to include the stage into St. Girons and some of the beautiful climbs there (that I did with a group on the 2005 Tour) plus a spectacular climb over the Col de Tourmalet. Not sure if we'll go into Andorra or not - depends on hotel confirmations and logistics.
So, that's the news. If you EVER had any inkling of going to the Tour, next year will be the year to do it, with the return of not only Lance Armstrong, but several other of his rivals from years past (all supposedly repented after their indiscretions). But not only because of that...but also because if you come with me, you're sure to have an even greater time, and I'm sure I'll have a lot of other Spinning instructors and enthusiasts from all over. Stay in touch with me for more info or send me an email to make sure you're on my mailing list.
FYI, I'm excited to announce that I'll have a Spinning instructor from England, Robert Baldi (who is also passionate cyclist and has ridden La Marmotte and many other big cols in france) who will be helping me as a guide on these tours (he helped me this morning make calls to hotels - but for him in the UK it was a civilized hour). In fact, he's been a guest instructor on this very blog, so you'll get a lot of Spinning bang for your Tour de France buck! Hey, and the euro has been falling, so it could be a LOT more reasonable next year than this year.
Vive le Tour! Allez! Allez!