The Diary of a Mad Band
In the middle of July, a bunch of intrepid Baroudeurs set out to meet the Tour de France (TdF) head on, and live on the infamous Alpe d’Huez for a week. This is our image and video diary of those incredible 7 days of living on the Tour.
I can’t remember exactly when we got the ball rolling, but what I can recall is the willingness for everyone involved to take on the task at hand: bookings, travel, logistics, stage-watching and the all important ‘where to ride’ duties were being snapped up left-right-and-centre. It was great, it felt like our own little mini tour within the Tour!
Our departure comes all too quickly. Thankfully, our travel expert has our bikes checked in the night before, and all we need now is our passports and a quick nip to St Pancras for the departure to sunny France. The Alps have a lot to live up to; on our first trip to the region, some 6 years ago, we were basking in sunshine and open roads, but just last year, after driving all the way there, it wasn’t just bucketing it down, it was the bucket and it’s entire family. This week, according to the local weather maps, it was set to be 30 degrees plus!
The EuroStar makes quick work of our journey, and in no time we’re in the bustling heart of the French capital. We’d love take onboard the excitement of being in a new town, but it is our transfer that lets us down in the Paris heat. Our advice, don’t take a taxi when you have the time to jump on the Metro; just be sure you know exactly where you’re going and it’s the right platform.
Our TVG arrives on time in Grenoble. We plant our feet on French soil a second time, but this time it’s with a big sigh of relief. We walk in the afternoon sun and watch families on their bikes roll by, before getting our own wheels that will take us onto Bourg d’Oisans. Two of us drop our intentions of cycling our way there, a my chain comes undone and dust closes in our ride. Instead we climb into the van and navigate a somewhat indirect route to base camp.
I always thought the roads in France were the softest of all, that is until we find a road less travelled. Bump after bump after bump. We may well be living in the modern world of SatNav and GPS, but perhaps this country wants to share more than her mountains with us. After an hour we are there. It’s late, and it’s dark, but we’re there. Another very pleasant surprise is that instead of staying some 12km from the Alpe, we discover we’re actually living up the mountain on an adjoining alp. We’re smiling now, but we wonder if our legs will be in the morning climb back.
It’s not just us on this journey of discovery, fellow Baroudeurs and their families are enroute. As well as our friend Sam Bentley. Here’s a video peek of how he starts his adventure:
*Stay tuned for ‘A Road Trip to France – Day 2’, coming soon.