TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

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Babychaos
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TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Babychaos » Fri Jan 18, 2013 16:32 pm

Hi all

Been a cycling fan for a while, and after watching the Olympic Road Race on Box Hill this year, and shouting my face off at the TV day after day over summer as Wiggo took home yellow I've resolved to go and see a few stages of the tour this year.

My plan is to be en route on the last 6 stages. I'm on a motorbike, and have booked a campsite near Veynes, to act as a basecamp, with the vague plan to head out each day to a point on the route, enjoy the scenery, then scream my tits off at all the GB riders as they go past. What I don't have any idea about is the best way to get a good view, and I'm hoping some veterans of spectating on the TdF can give some pointers. I'd obviously love to be on Alp D'Huez, but from what I can understand getting up a mountain finish can be a challenge in it's own right.

Finally, I have planned an evening cruise from Annecy to Paris, where I'll meet up with the significant other (I've promised her a weekend in Paris, not sure I was specific on the details though...), and then grab a point on the Champs Elysee to watch Cavendish do his stuff. I remember seeing a Brit corner...if there is any actual organisation behind that, I'd love to get in contact!

Cheers for any advice or recommendations in advance!

Pete

atakd
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby atakd » Fri Jan 18, 2013 16:42 pm

Don't bother. Went to watch stage 18 last year, got there early with a plum parking spot at the top of Cote de Souillac then got chased by gendarmes saying no one could park there. Two hours later all the spaces where I'd been parked were taken by others, including Brits so it wasn't a "get rosbif" thing, and we ended up behind some crappy hedge on a flat section. That and the crass marketing to all the screaming "fans" who don't know the first thing about cycling and squabble viscously over Haribo on the floor, put me off the tour which I'd enjoyed on TV since Indurain's 1st victory. I won't even bother watching it on TV this year. The Vuelta's a much more exciting race.

Babychaos
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Babychaos » Fri Jan 18, 2013 16:51 pm

I'm sorry you had a bad experience... and it highlights exactly why I'm looking for some advice on how best to go about it!

laurentian
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby laurentian » Fri Jan 18, 2013 17:00 pm

Went once after planning a strategically placed family campingh holiday, and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

No experience of a mountain stage though. My advice would be to be nearer the end of the stage than the start. We were on a flat, straight piece of road about 15K from the start so the peloton went by in a flash. The tour going through your village or town in France is a big deal to the locals and they tend to have a good day regardless. We got as close as we could then parked up on a rural road and walked about a mile to the road the Tour went along. Take a picnic + copious local "refreshment" get there early and enjoy the build up as well as the race - I imagine it would be difficult to get close to the finish of any stage unless you're prepared to camp.

Probably not much advice there but my thoughts.
Wilier Izoard XP

wiwaxy
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby wiwaxy » Fri Jan 18, 2013 17:06 pm

I've been to the Tour for the last couple of years and seen a variety of stage in Brittany and the Pyrenees. If you are seeing a stage ending in a town, my advice is go into the town nice an early, soak up the atmosphere, watch some of the action on the big screens but then head out of town and choose a quiet spot with a good viewpoint. You'll see far more that way, as they all come past, than having to stand for hours near the finish line where once the first few have sprinted through, 95% of the peloton will be freewheeling over the line. In the mountains - again, choose a spot away from the hoardes with a good viewpoint overlooking a few switchbacks. You'll feel the atmosphere build and see them approach from quite a distance away. Whatever you decide, I'd be surprised if you didn't enjoy it!

GGBiker
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby GGBiker » Fri Jan 18, 2013 20:22 pm

It's interesting to see the spectacle but basically they whiz past in a few minutes and that's it.

If you actually want to enjoy the racing TV is much better. If you happen to be in a town it's passing through its worth a look though.

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Lucan2
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Lucan2 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 21:35 pm

Babychaos wrote:Hi all

... Finally, I have planned an evening cruise from Annecy to Paris, where I'll meet up with the significant other ...


That'll be some evening - it's well over 300 miles from Annecy to Paris!

Babychaos
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Babychaos » Fri Jan 18, 2013 21:57 pm

Thanks for all the replies so far.

The way I see it, worst case I have a week in Provence with my motorbike, and get to have some fleeting glimpses of a great race. I've had far worse holidays! If I can get some good vantage points, and soak up the atmosphere all the better! I'll have the individual time trial to cheer on each of the gladiators separately as well...

Wiwaxy - great idea to get a good view, I'll certainly take that advice!

Regarding the ride from Annecy to Paris... I'm lucky to have a motorbike well suited to long cruises (61 plate VFR800 for those who care about motorised 2-wheelers)... Long, but hopefully enjoyable ride, and a couple of nights in Paris after to relax...

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nunowoolmez
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby nunowoolmez » Sat Jan 19, 2013 08:25 am

This will be my first year for getting over there too. I will be in the Alps riding anyway so I will be there for stages 18 & 19. If you plan properly you can get a good vantage point, especially on the mountain stages & as the field will be well spread they won't be gone in the space of 30 seconds! I absolutely can't wait!!!

snickwell
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby snickwell » Sat Jan 19, 2013 14:14 pm

atakd wrote:Don't bother. Went to watch stage 18 last year, got there early with a plum parking spot at the top of Cote de Souillac then got chased by gendarmes saying no one could park there. Two hours later all the spaces where I'd been parked were taken by others, including Brits so it wasn't a "get rosbif" thing, and we ended up behind some crappy hedge on a flat section. That and the crass marketing to all the screaming "fans" who don't know the first thing about cycling and squabble viscously over Haribo on the floor, put me off the tour which I'd enjoyed on TV since Indurain's 1st victory. I won't even bother watching it on TV this year. The Vuelta's a much more exciting race.


That's the whole point of the Tour - to allow the locals to get involved in the world's biggest cycling race. The caravan is part of the whole spectacle, its part of the culture. You got involved in the 'proper' part of watching the Tour, with the rest of the 'unwashed' masses and you didn't like it. Me? I loved it? Standing shoulder to shoulder with adults and kids from all over Europe, squashed in to a tiny grass verge, simply amazing. A once in a lifetime experience.

nunowoolmez wrote:This will be my first year for getting over there too. I will be in the Alps riding anyway so I will be there for stages 18 & 19. If you plan properly you can get a good vantage point, especially on the mountain stages & as the field will be well spread they won't be gone in the space of 30 seconds! I absolutely can't wait!!!


You'll need to be there MANY hours beforehand - maybe even camping out for the best spots. Take for example Dutch Corner - you won't be able to stand/sit around there for the day or two before.

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nunowoolmez
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby nunowoolmez » Sat Jan 19, 2013 18:45 pm

I am wondering how long we have to climb up the Col before the peloton approaches. Is there a normal cut off point?

IanLD
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby IanLD » Sat Jan 19, 2013 18:48 pm

Have seen quite a few stages over the years since my first tour in 1980.

Get your vantage point early - helps if you can speak some French to pass the time and I've always found the French really appreciate the fact we've come down from Scotland to follow the Tour.

Scrambling around for the freebies thrown out is all part of the fun and great to see all ages participating. In more recent years my son has loved this part of the wait.

Mountain stages are obviously better from the extended period you see the riders, but harder to get to and limited caravane publicitaire. I've ridden up Col de la Joux Plane before the stage and the crowd give you a great response. Probably the closest you can get to actually taking part.

Can't emphasise enough how making an effort to speak to others in the crowd helps. We've even had access to the finish line through chatting to some of the crowd who managed to get us in.

Even seeing the bunch coming past at full tilt is an experience itself. Hearing the sound and feeling the air getting sucked away round you as they pass is yet another part of watching it, so I'd try and take in a variety of places on stages to get a fuller experience.

peteco
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby peteco » Sat Jan 19, 2013 20:00 pm

Try and get to a town where a stage starts. The build up is great as the coaches roll in, and they get ready to leave.

Pete

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thegreatdivide
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby thegreatdivide » Sat Jan 19, 2013 22:06 pm

We're staying in La Giettaz for the last week of the Tour and aim to get to stage 18 and 19. The latter is pretty much on our doorstep with the Col de la Croix Fry just up the road. We'll be there from the 14th so will have time to scope some good spots while we're out riding. Can't wait!
"Crevaison sur les paves..."

atakd
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby atakd » Sat Jan 19, 2013 22:15 pm

snickwell wrote: Me? I loved it? Standing shoulder to shoulder with adults and kids from all over Europe, squashed in to a tiny grass verge, simply amazing. A once in a lifetime experience.


Yes, I suppose it is horses for courses. The way you describe it makes it sound like your home town - but with grass.

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typekitty
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby typekitty » Mon Jan 21, 2013 23:17 pm

IanLD wrote:Even seeing the bunch coming past at full tilt is an experience itself. Hearing the sound and feeling the air getting sucked away round you as they pass is yet another part of watching it, so I'd try and take in a variety of places on stages to get a fuller experience.


This. The peloton is like a machine. I've never heard anything quite like it!

We went to Paris for the final stage last year, all very last minute. Get there early and be prepared to stand for hours. Take water! Listen out for helicopters too, that will be a sign the riders are close.

I want to go up Alpe d'Huez but everywhere is booked out, and I don't have a clue if it's even possible to camp on the roadside the night before (I'm expecting to be moved on by police). So not too sure what we'll do this year. Anyone got a chalet with some floor space? :D

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greasedscotsman
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby greasedscotsman » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:26 am

typekitty wrote:This. The peloton is like a machine. I've never heard anything quite like it!


Totally! I love the sounds in this vid, the radios, helicopter and the whoosh of the riders going past. Slightly spoilt by the kids shouting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_Dn4ox7WtA

typekitty wrote:I want to go up Alpe d'Huez but everywhere is booked out, and I don't have a clue if it's even possible to camp on the roadside the night before (I'm expecting to be moved on by police). So not too sure what we'll do this year. Anyone got a chalet with some floor space? :D


IF you can find a space to camp by the roadside, you won't get moved on by the police. There will be people camping (and campervan-ing) there for several days, maybe up to a week before the stage. It's finding a spot that could be the problem.

Richmond Racer
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Richmond Racer » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:32 am

Unless you want to spend spondoolies and fork out for a seat in one of the Tribunes, as others have said if you want to be barrierside on the Champs, you MUST get there a good few hours before.

Joining one of the 'national' corners can be fun - Brit corner will be up by the Arc, but the Norwegian corner's also very loud and mad. If you want to contact the guys who organise the Brit corner, they're on @TeamSkyFanzone

Matchstick Man
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Matchstick Man » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:43 am

I went with a few others to the prologue in Dunkirk in 2001. Parked up quite a way out and there were free buses taking spectators in to the town centre to ease congestion. Picked a spot easily and watched them all come past at full tilt - great fun!
It was very easy to wander round the start enclave as although it was fenced off, you saw a lot with riders warming-up on turbos and we saw Hennie Kuiper near the TV gantry as well. Lots of team cars to pose next to and easy to purchase some bidons and t-shirts from the official store.
Stage 17 is the final TT but crucially comes the day before Alpe D'Huez so means it will be a nervy affair. Worth taking a trip to the finish imo and having a mooch around.

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Alan A
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Re: TdF 2013 - First Time Spectator

Postby Alan A » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:41 pm

greasedscotsman wrote:
typekitty wrote:This. The peloton is like a machine. I've never heard anything quite like it!


Totally! I love the sounds in this vid, the radios, helicopter and the whoosh of the riders going past. Slightly spoilt by the kids shouting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_Dn4ox7WtA


That youtube has made my morning. Ahh the memories. Thank you.

To the OP. You have a motor bike so with a bit of planning you can probably see the peloton in two or three different places each day. With the exception of the climbs don't worry too much about where you watch them pass, but try and catch them 1 day at or after the feed zone. It's thrilling to watch.

For intermediate climbs you need to get there about 2 hours prior to the caravan. The schedule will be posted on Letour website. For Final climbs or the Alpe you need to ride up before breakfast.

If I had a motorbike i'd be tempted to fake a press accreditation pass (like the blue one shown below) and ride along the route either immediately behind the broom wagon or between the caravanne and the peloton.

Image

Enjoy your week and make new friends with as many people as possible. Lots of them will have radios or ipads with streaming for getting race info.


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