EXODUS ON THE TOUR DE FRANCE
Here come the wacky racers! No not Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, the peloton isn’t due for another two hours or so. This is something almost as exciting in its own right, the Tour de France ‘promotional caravan’. And what remarkable vehicles they are! Many of these would put the cars of Dick Dastardly, Muttley and Penelope Pitstop to shame. There goes a four wheeled chicken, closely followed by huge box of washing powder, a giant rolling tyre and a pack of galloping horses on the roof of a car.
As if this isn’t exciting enough, every vehicle is manned by students tossing out free products and gifts to the huge crowds that line this mountain road. It is impossible to pinpoint exactly what makes a cheap plastic pen or a sample sachet of fruit syrup quite such a ‘must have’ item? I still haven’t managed to answer this question as I find myself almost leaping under one of the moving vehicles to wrestle one of the aforementioned products from the grasp of a young child! In an unusually weak moment of guilt, I find myself offering him a rather nice ‘table cloth print’ sunhat as recompense.
Welcome to the Tour de France. This unique sporting event signals an annual three week festival across France as an estimated two thirds of all residents watch the race live from the roadside. We are almost at the summit at the climb of the Col de Peyresourde; a 14km stretch of uphill road at the end of a mammoth 200km mountain stage in the Pyrenees featuring four major climbs. The atmosphere is quite incredible and we enjoy some fantastic support and encouragement as we drag ourselves up the climb just a few hours ahead of the race itself.
This is the great thing about road cycling; you really can challenge yourself on the same roads as your professional heroes. This forms the recipe of the ‘Tour de France Special’ week that Exodus runs each July. We take you to the key points during a couple of race days to soak up the action (and of course claim your free promotional gifts), as well as giving you the opportunity to ride some of the route yourself. This is certainly an excellent way of understanding the fitness level of these incredible athletes and seeing the speed of the pros can be quite a humbling, as well as motivating, experience.
If you’d like to find out for yourself then 2013 will be a great year to join us as it will be the 100th Tour de France and is sure to be a big celebration. The route will be announced in October and we will advertise our own itinerary shortly afterwards, but the trip is likely to be sometime during the last two weeks of July. Watch this space for more details.
By Andrew Ross, Cycling Product Manager, who led this special Tour de France departure.