question on watching the tour de france

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by jabantik00, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. jabantik00

    jabantik00 New Member

    Mar 7, 2004
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    i plan on bicycle touring france/europe for several months this spring/summer and would like to follow and watch the stages of the tour, particularly in the pyrenees and the alps. i may try to also catch the end of the giro near milano if i am in that area at the end of may. i will be on my mountain bike, pulling a bob trailer, and camping and travelling on the cheap. i have some questions:

    1> can i easily hitchhike with other spectators to the next day's stage? i can speak french well enough to approach someone and ask if i can ride with them and share gas and other expenses/chores, but i don't know how many french drive vehicles that can take a loaded bike and trailer. for some reason, i doubt pickup trucks are as common as they are in america, but i have seen a lot of large campers and buses on the roadsides of the tour.

    2> if i can't hitch a ride, are there buses or trains that are reasonably close to most of the stages? i understand the sncf allows bikes on certain trains, but i don't know their policy on cargo trailers/additional baggage.

    3> will many/all of the campgrounds be full, and can i find a spot for camping sauvage? should i find a hostel nearby and ride/hitchhike/take public transportation to watch the stages?

    4> who else plans to do this or something similar? i'd go with a commercial tour but they are out of my budget. this is my low budget attempt at something similar

    replies and suggestions are greatly appreciated. thanks

  2. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

    Jan 5, 2004
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    1 You'll find that there will be a lot of people doing a similar exercise as you - there is plenty of touring cyclists running parallel
    to the route of the TDF.
    You won't be able to gain access to the actual roads where the stages take place on the day of the stage but if you are 24 hours either side of the day of stage, you will be allowed to cycle the actual TDF route.
    Invariably you'll find plenty of englisg speaking peoole doing what you're doing - the Europeans (because they know that the weather will be warm) tend not to be as numerous.
    But there is good camraderie on the road and you'll find your other cyclists helpful.
    2 Trains do run between the larger towns and cities and SNCF do allow you to bring on board your bike etc.
    But be sure the train services only run - mainly - between the larger population areas - so check your route beforehand !
    3 France is full of campsites and there is no difficulty (in my experience) gaining access to same.
    Hotel/hostels are numerous too.
    Your best bet to see a stage is to do so on bike : cars/buses, because of the number of spectators - can take forever to get down from and Alpine /Pyrenian stage.(I left a spot of Alp D'Huez at 4.00pm - did not get back to my room 18kms away until
    1.00am the following morning - and no I didn't stop off for a beer
    on the way either ! 9 hours to travel 18 kms !)
    if you cant cycle to a spot - walk !
  3. Durian

    Durian New Member

    May 11, 2004
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    I was at the TDF last year with a tour company

    We were able to cycle on all the roads on the day of each stage. Normally they kick you off the route just before the caravan comes through, which is about 2 hours before the cyclists.