Tour de France 2013

30 Jul
I’m typing this on the flight back home on my phone so I hope I get most of it right. This post is going to include a slew of ineligible rambling and way too many pictures.
Wednesday Night (07/10/2013) flight to Heathrow, England
We headed out to PHL airport Wednesday night to catch a flight to Heathrow England. Unfortunately our flight was delayed by a few hours so we grabbed food and hung out at the British Airways lounge.
Cat inspectors:

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Thursday (07/11/2013) Get into the UK and ride 70miles straight to Goodwood then RV pickup

Strava: Heathrow  Airport to Goodwood

We got into Heathrow Thursday morning and met up with Jamie’s dad, Bruce who was going to grab our bags and bring them to his house. We set the bikes up and got ready to ride south to the Goodwood Festival of Speed car show. Unfortunately I had a few too many scotch/beers at the lounge the night before and had a solid hangover paired with jet-lag for the rest of the ride/day.
We eventually made it south to Goodwood but with the flight delay we missed the festival. We got to lurk some sweet cars in the parking lot before setting out on the rest of our journey.
We then rode to pick up the RV that we’d be living in for the rest of the trip. We headed back to Brice’s to get things together. At some point Ben and I grabbed a proper pint at the local pub with Bruce before heading out for food/supplies or the rest of the trip at 2am.

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Saw a couple wild car factories along the way.

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RV pickup!

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Shopping trip late night edition.

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Friday (07/12/2013) take Ferry to France and drive through the night towards Mount Ventoux

The next morning the four of us set out to follow the 100th year of the Tour de France by heading south to the Ferry to drive into France. There were a slew of others driving over to watch the tour as well so we got to pick up a couple of helpful hints. We then started to map out the rest of the drive as it was going to be a long day.

Once in France we stopped at the nearest Carrefour super market/mall and got SIM cards and a portable Wifi magic machine.

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On the Ferry

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Liter of Cola, check.

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The tolls were brutal as the RV was counted as a class 3 vehicle…

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Saturday (07/13/2013) Arrive at Mount Ventoux, kit up and ride!
We then drove 13 or so hours through the night into the next day to get a spot on Mt. Ventoux. We luckily hit the grape fields surround the base of the mountain while it was light to take in the sights. The crowd was already intense a full day before the stage but we got a great spot on the mountain due to Jamie’s driving skills. After setting the RV up I was too amped up to ride and never got to bed from the night before. Little did I know there would be little to no sleep for the entire trip 🙂

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We kitted up and flew down the mountain. Holy hell… I’ve never been on a HC climb before and descending for 20+ minutes screaming down a mountain is no joke. I’m far from a good descender but had a shitty grin the whole time.
We posted up at a cafe in the town of Bedoin at the bottom of Mount Ventoux to watch a bit of the days Stage 14 Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule / Lyon with a pint of Grolsch & fries. We tooled around the town a bit to check out the sights then got to work on climbing Mount Ventoux.

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Exploring the town a bit

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Then time to start climbing back up the front side

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Pit stop halfway up to grab a cold one and watch the end of the stage with strangers.

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The crowd was great with cheers and I was able to get tons of beer hand ups. I guess people there don’t drink while riding but it was blazing hot and I needed something cold! People always seemed to cheer/laugh when id ride past while pounding a brewski. The climb was long… 20.8km long to be exact and a summit at 1912meters (5000+ ft of climbing).

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That night we made a proper pasta dinner, met the neighbors, and painted the road… Game time!!

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Sunday (07/14/2013) Ride the front side, watch Stage 15 Givors / Mont Ventoux, then ride the back side.


Mount Ventoux Front side before Stage 15

Mount Ventoux Back side after Stage 15

Sunday was Stage 15 Givors / Mont Ventoux, so I woke up early and rode back down the front side of the mountain to the bottom of Mount Ventoux in search of a little food and Wifi as our Wifi magic box didn’t work on the mountain side. I grabbed a melon sorbet and hung out a bit then grabbed some souvenirs & baguette for the jersey pocket and faced Mount Venoux for the second day in a row. That climb was amazingly tough the second time around with sore legs, wicked heat, and slews of people walking/riding/driving up the mountain side. I barely got any handups this go around and had to walk at points as the swarm of cops forced people off the road trying to get things ready for the race.
I changed into my Tour costume and got ready for the mania!! It was amazing seeing the best of the best crush the same mountain you were grinding up in your 34×28 granny gear. So humbling.
After watching stage 15 we made some food and decided to ride over the top of the mountain and descend the back side of Mount Ventoux. Oohhhie!! It was borderline amazing. Passing cars doing 50+mph down a mountain is something else.
We made it to the bottom around dusk where Dustin decided to crush back up it on his own. The rest of us ventured into the town as it was Bastille Day to take some culture. We hung out in the cafe for more of the same, beer & Wifi. After hanging out a bit we went to climb the backside of Mount Ventoux in the dark. It was a slow grind but we jammed out to Lady Gaga in order to keep the spirits high. We got in around 1:30am, grabbed some food and hit the sack.
On the way down that morning this lady was climbing out from behind the guard rail. no bueno.

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Handups are not a crime!

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Time to watch the stage with a lil ‘merica in hand! First Lager on mount Ventoux??! Maybe so.

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part of the Tour caravan… definitely not weird.

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Ben getting interviewed

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Tv shots!

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Back side of Mount Ventoux descent.

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Cafe at the bottom = Duvel time

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Time to climb the backside…

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Monday (07/15/2013) Rest day/ride with the pros, then beach, then drive right back up north close to Alpe d’Huez.

Strava: Vaison La Romaine, France – Rest day Pro ride

The next morning we headed off the mountain to Vaison La Romaine as it was a rest day for the pro riding in le Tour and Jamie had the inside scoop of where they were staying with hopes to ride with the RadioShack Leopard Trek team. After they talked with the mechanics a bit, we got things together and cruised out of town with the RadioShack team. There were probably 15 others who were cruising around with us. I remember the pace started high and it felt like a sketchy crit as the team car would randomly brake check us. Eventually the pace cracked most of the people minus us and another guy.
At some point Ben got a little too close to the #pros and had a stern talking to from the team car driver who basically told us to piss-off stay back and let them do their thing.
Two seconds later when we hit the first real climb a few of us went off the back and we all re-grouped at the top. We did about 10miles at that point and retraced our steps back to town. On the way we ran into the Katusha team and rode with them back into town. It was amazing to see how fast the guys from RadioShack ride on their rest day. Amazing…
Once back to the RV we got things together and made a quick stop at the grocery/cafe for beer and more Wifi. We then headed straight south on the A50 to Cassis to go ‘down the shore’ to the Mediterranean!?
The beach was amazing for a few reasons but number one was this was the first shower/bath we had have since getting to France… We lived it up splashing around and explored the glass littered cliffside. By then the sun was about to go down and we made some dinner at the RV.
Game plan was to drive back up north to find a spot 3 days early on the infamous Alpe d’Huez. We made it probably 10km when our zest to hit the beach came back as bit is as we had just ran out of diesel (gasole) in the RV. Aww shit!!!!! We were in the middle of no where, with the closest town with gas roughly 10+miles away. Jamie and Ben kitted up with a small canister and headed out into the darkness. Dustin as myself stayed by the RV to make a syphoning device and tried to flag down drivers to see if we could make anything happen. A few people stopped but weren’t able to make anything happen.
After a wild adventure of finding the town and not being able I use their credit cards, those two made it back with a liter or two of diesel. The bad news was once a diesel engine is run dry, it’s hard to get started again. After running the battery down cranking we helped Jamie do a 3pt push turn to face down the hill in order to bump start it in 2nd… ie our last option. Luckily it worked and we all jumped in through the side door while rolling down said hill, pulled a mean U-turn, and hoped to God we could make it to the 24hour gas station were we could actually fill up.
It was quite a white knuckle type of ride with coasting in neutral down every decline. Somehow we rolled into the gas station running on fumes, filled up, and our stress level went from 11 to 2 in no time.
By then it was well after midnight and we still had a solid 3 hours of driving. We ended up parking outside of a hotel around 3am close to the bottom of Alpe d’Huez and passed out.

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Fresh pro

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RS4 goodness

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Wait for it 🙂

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Tuesday (07/16/2013) – drive up to camp on Alpe d’Huez

The next morning we woke up early and took in the sights and sounds on the small backroads on our way over the mountains to Alpe d’Huez. At some point we decided the RV’s waste products needed to get dumped. Unfortunately we were amateurs but we found a campsite and Ben got to work. I’m glad he did because I’m not sure who else was going to get into the mix. After that we saran wrapped the toilet and didn’t touch it again.
After some more driving we got to the base of Alpe d’Huez. After siting in traffic for a while with the smell of clutch in our nose, Jamie made some legit moves and we found a spot for the RV in corner 3! She had a bit of a lean but we parked her on ramps/rocks and tried not to all be inside the RV at once. We grabbed tents and set up camp a few hundred feet up from the RV before it got too busy. We walked up to town to catch the end of the days stage then back to the RV to make friendly with the neighbors. Next up was painting random hashtags and nonsense on the road.
There was a were a couple groups of Dutch guys camping by us, some Belgiums, and a rowdy group of French kids who had a entire DJ setup that never stopped. Seriously I think some of the kids there were 13 years old. Anyways after staying out too late living it up, I got to bed in the early morning hours.

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So aero it hurts

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Wednesday(07/17/2013) – Ride the finishing Stage 18 Alpe d’Huez loop

Strava: Alpe d’Huez Stage 18 loop TDF

Sleeping in the tents was great but temperatures would dip into the 40Fs every night and be blazing hot by 9am, ie a great wake up call.  That morning we rode up to the town and into the Rapha shop for a water bottle and espressos. The goal was to do the loop that the pros were planning on doing the next day. We got a bit lost trying to get over the top, but found a couple amazing lakes 2000meters up!
Once we got back on track we ran into Jeff who now lives in Belgium but knows the Bikesport crew and use to live in PA. Seriously amazing to run into people so far away from home.
We soon realized that it was no easy task to get to over the backside of Huez to the Col de Sarenne decent (ie the backside of Alpe d’Huez). The road here is closed to cars as its much too narrow and of poor quality to allow proper traffic.
When we finally got to the crest of the mountain and started decent. The road was so poor that the day before (seriously the day before) the French repaved a couple of the bad corners. The decent was a blast minus the rough surface and we headed back to the start of the front side of Alpe d’Huez.
The start of the climb hurts! Someone told me the first four corners were were the toughest and they definitely were. It kicked hard and fast but the crowds were crazy which kept us in a good mood. It started sprinkling on the way up which was a nice break from the heat. We re-grouped at the town by the top and drank a few pints of Meteor. We cruised back down just before the heavy rain started.
After dinner we partied with the Dutch guys who took over the Frenchies DJ setup. After the police made us wind it down around 2am we made a fire and I kept Ben up late into the wee hours of the morning talking about cult movies and other nonsense.

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#WWTD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Topher is seriously everywhere

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Party time with the Frenchies

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Thursday (07/18/2013) – Watch Stage 18 Gap – Alpe d’Huez!!

The next morning was stage 18 where they were going to ride up Alpe d’Huez once then do the same 50k loop we did the day before with everyone finishing on the top of Huez on their second time up! It was going to be a wild day.
Luckily the predicted heavy rain never hit as there was talk of not letting the riders descend the back side if the weather was too severe. We all got dolled up in our costumes and got ready to put in some work. After getting out ugly selves on TV, we watched the crowds roll off the mountain the rest of the night.
Later that night we made it out to the bar at the top of the mountain and devoured some delicious Belgium goblets of some La/Mc Chouffe. Around 12:30am the Ddiscotheque across the street opened and we got our Euroclub on. I was hoping for some better Euro house music but we still had a good time and kept the gaycation in full effect. I think we may have scared a couple people seriously. After a late night we passed out hard for a few hours.

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TJ was soo close!

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Stage winner: Christophe Riblon

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Turn-bar wheelie!

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Everyone leaving the mountain/

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Friday (07/19/2013) – Ride Col du Galibier and drive off the mountain to Annecy

Strava: d’Huez -> Col de Lautaret -> Col du Galibier -> d’Huez

The next day Jamie was able to wake up early enough to catch part of the stage, Ben took the day off, and Dustin and myself went to tackle Col de Galibier The game plan was to descend the front side of Alpe d’Huez for the first time, climb Col de Galibier, then climb Col de Sarenne (backside of Huez). On the map the distance didn’t look far but 30k from the summit of Galibier was a climb that went up, up, up!!!
The scenery was, how do you say… epic. At some point we hit the cloud cover and it started sprinkling/dewing on us while climbing and we started freezing even with arm warmers on. Once we finished the climb before Galibier known as Col du Lautaret Dustin needed a quick pep-talk to get back in the game and we set off the next 8km up Col de Galibier.
It was amazingly scenic with batches of snow still up there in July…! At some point a group of Argos-Shimano development squad ripped past us like we were standing still. Amazing! We eventually made it to the top and saw a few groups with their travel vehicles having a break/feed zone. I was a bit jealous seeing people with Cokes, danishes, and sandwiches.
After putting on the arm/knee warmers an wind vest we went right back down the decent, grabbed a baguette at the town at the bottom of Galibier and want back to descending. In the town of La Grave the rain started in hot and heavy so we dipped into a cafe for a hot tea, pizza, and to watch the end of the days stage.
After making some friends and filling our bellies, it was 58F and sprinkling, ie not too bad. From there it was a quick decent to the bottom of Col de Sarenne climb. We hit the first village and topped off bottles in one the many spouts/fountains that were around the mountain. While filling up a nice women told us the weather was coming. Ahh shit I thought we already hit the shitty weather?!?!
In about 2 minutes of climbing the rain started in and the temps dropped. It was constant rain and 50F… Aka your gonna have a bad time! Never good when your climbing an HC climb and your cold. Dustin and myself stayed together the whole climb to keep each other going. We eventually made it to summit and geared up for what was going to be a wicked descent.
Of course through the whoops at the top of the mountain the wind picked up and we were hard on the brakes trying not to shake any more uncontrollably than we were already. There was a struggle between hands trying to pull the brakes as they were so cold and fatigued and just going fast even though it was soo soo cold to get the #Rapha type of epic ride done already. We eventually made it, cried a bit on the inside, then pounded some food.
We then took down the tents and left Alpe d’Huez for Annecy F1 hotel which we got into around 3am. The hotel parking lot had a slew of cars from le Tour so it took a bit to park. This was our first hotel of the trip and my first shower in France…

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Backed up traffic coming off the mountain as far as the eye could see.

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Rain delay.

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Pizza & dogs!!!

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+ le Tour

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Ran into a couple more Americans.

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Then the rain hit.

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1st shower in France

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Saturday (07/20/2013) Watch stage 20 in Annecy, then drive straight to Paris

Strava: Annecy Stage 20

After a couple hours rest we woke up and left for downtown Annecy to watch the days stage.
The town was beautiful. Definitely worth going to on a vacation in its own right. We grabbed some food at a cafe and some road baguettes then headed up part of the D41 Semnoz climb to watch the end of the race. The climb itself was brutal and we only did a bit of it. After the race we descended and took a couple minutes relaxing in the lake!!
We got back to the RV around 8pm and got ready to drive into Paris which was 7 or so hours away for the last stage of le Tour.  Jamie drove us out of the town for the technical stuff, then I stayed up with Ben and Dustin. When it was my turn at it I was a bit tired an had to pound 2 Cokes and candy which put me in a weird place as I don’t drink soda/eat much candy. Flash forward an hour or so and I found myself trying to get real close to the gas station pump and reversed hard into a metal pole cracking the taillight. Ahhh shiiiit! Luckily we already had some super glue for some other quick fixes needed. After another hour or so we got close to the city loop. After getting lost a bit we got to the hotel around 3:30am.
The bad news, there was no where for us to park the giant RV that they promise to have room for. After going back and forth with the security guards in the parking garage, we scratched that idea around 5:30am and luckily found 2 parallel parking spots on the street and crashed there for the night.

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Such wild foot position…

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Sunday  (07/21/2013) Sight see in Paris then watch Stage 21

We woke back up at 9:00am to talk with the manager and luckily someone was just about to leave so we got a spot for the next night at the hotel. After showers and a bit of relaxing we got the bikes out and got our tourism on with the help of Jamie aka our tour guide.
We got the big ones done: The Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. We rode back to the Arc de Triomphe and jumped in on a Tour de France group ride they were doing on the finishing loop course. We rode back to the hotel,changed and headed out for the final stage of le Tour.
The crowd there was nuts with 3 people deep everywhere!! We all kinda split up and watched from random points. After seeing them rip around amaingly fast, Dustin and Myself went to sight see ad grab some falafel at Maoz. After tons of food we roamed around the city and eventually made it back to the RV/hotel a bit after 2am.

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Notre Dame

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So fast they were just a blur.

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Monday (07/22/2013): Ferry back to UK & return the RV

The next morning Dustin was flying back to the states early, so we woke up at 5:30, got shit together and went to the airport. After realizing we weren’t going to catch our ferry back to the UK, Jamie, Ben, and I dicked around a bit and set off to return a couple items at Carrefour.
After a heavy fee for missing the ferry, we were back on our way to England more tired than ever. We made a side trip to Brighton on the coast to check out the scene and grab a bite.
Next up we stopped at the junk yard to pick up some items for Orchid Euro. After grabbing some RHD markIII conversion bits, we drove straight to Jamie’s dads and got to work cleaning the RV. We dropped off the RV later that night and got to bed a bit after midnight.

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Brighton, UK

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Tuesday (07/23/2013): Fly home?!

The next morning we woke up early to pack out bikes/bags and head to the airport. One of my bags was a bit over weight so it was Gueze time… sorry who ever I was going to give that to :D. On the way we stopped at a wild bike shop. I was tempted to buy a couple things but all my bags were packed solid.
We got to the airport and realized they oversold the flight. They offered us $800 cash, a hotel for the night, and some food vouchers in return of leaving the next afternoon. Um hell yeah!!  Jamie and I took the deal as Ben had to get to work. It was great to offset the cost of the trip quite a bit.

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We may have stolen a sign or two.

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Bruce’s lotus

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Wednesday (07/24/2013) Leaving Europe for real this time

The next day we jumped on the plane and headed for the USA. Everything was smooth until we found out they didn’t have our bike bags as they were coming on the next flight. Ruh-roh! I eventually got my bag the next day when a random man called and dropped it off at my apartment.
Overall the trip was nuts… Plenty of ups and downs. A couple close calls. Way too many late nights & lack of sleep but it was such an epic adventure and something ill never forget. Vive le Tour!!!!

Ben put together a video, I havnt got to watch it yet but Ive heard good things.  Enjoy:


3 Responses to “Tour de France 2013”

  1. Kelly Minx Riordan July 30, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    This whole post gives me great happiness–I saw your #YOLO on Ventoux and on d’Huez.

    • Eric July 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Haha badass!!

  2. jordanpattern July 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    This is so insanely amazing. I don’t think I’d ever seriously considered trying to get over to Europe for any of the big races until reading this. WELL DONE.

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