After I gave a talk and slide show at the Seattle Bike Expo (thanks everyone who bought a book!), a woman told me how excited she was about making her first trip to the Tour de France in 2012.
She wanted to know if I had any tips for seeing the Tour, specifically the stages in the Alps.
I told her that unless she wants to spend her holiday locked in a traffic jam, she should ride her bike to the Alpine stages, and plan on getting there very early (on the big climbs, aim for four hours before the riders are scheduled to pass–keeping in mind that many of the people camping on the side of the road have been there for a week already). Because road options are relatively limited in the Alps, the routes that do exist get gridlocked hours before and after each stage. Ride a bike and you sail past all those people suffering in their steel cages. For stages too far to ride to, I recommended taking a train to a closer location, and then riding to the course. Also, if you arrive on a bike four or five hours before the stage is scheduled to pass through, you can usually ride on the course, something you can’t do in a car.
I also told her to get a copy of Graham Watson’s Tour de France Travel Guide. It distills the legendary cycling photographer’s decades of experience covering the Tour into a portable, and beautifully illustrated, guide designed specifically for Tour de France visitors. It also has terrific tips on how to get good photos at the Tour, even if you aren’t a credentialed photographer.
Go inside the pro peloton with Argyle Armada, available from your local bookstore or bike shop or from these retailers:
- Order an autographed copy from Mark Johnson’s website Ironstring.com.
- Argyle Armada at Amazon.com
- Argyle Armada at BarnesandNoble.com
- Argyle Armada at VeloGear.com
- Argyle Armada from Slipstream Sports and Team Garmin-Barracuda
- Argyle Armada at Chapters/Indigo
- Argyle Armada from your local independent bookseller