During a busy July when not doing weddings and meeting with prospective clients, I spend time watching the Tour de France on television. I have always been a fan of this three week long spectacle, but it has had an even more special meaning since my visit to the tour eight years ago.
In 2003 I traveled to France with four of my closest friends and our bikes. We were initially centered in Alps at the base of the famed L’ Alpe d’ Huez, one of the legendary climbs of the tour with its 21 switchbacks. We arrived two days before the tour and immediately unpacked our bikes and started up the mountain in the 95 degree heat of that extraordinarily hot summer.
The climb 13.3km long with 21 turns and an average 8.6 percent grade, with the 10th kilometer the steepest at 11.5 percent and there is no way that the steepness of the climb can be conveyed on television. As you ride onto the mountain, the first section looms in front like a steep wall, but the switchbacks are relatively flat and you can get off to rest if necessary. I made it to the top and two days later enjoyed watching the tour riders as they attacked the mountain.
We rode up L”Alpe twice and did other climbs in the area following the tour for a few days before traveling to Provence. It was the trip of a lifetime, and the memories are precious, especially since I lost one of my dear friends with whom I traveled last December.
This year’s tour rides L’Alpe d”Huez on Friday, July 22. Catch it on Versus. I’ll be watching for sure.
Next time – back to weddings.