Inside Le Tour de France: Riding Stage 6

Riding the last 50 miles of Stage 6 in this year’s Tour “Pro-Am” was simply, surreal. That’s the only way I can explain it. Everything, from the yellow, and oh-so-pro “Springer” label on my sweet, borrowed bike, to the matching, oh-so-French le Coq Sportiv kit, to the two police motorcycle escorts and the two official cars shepherding our little peloton down into the finishing town of  Montabaun was as amazing as you’d think it’d be.

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We took a bus from our hotel the cathedral town of Rodez to the start town of Arpajon-Sur-Cere, grabbed our bikes and then pulled out-of-town. Then there was lots of spinning through farm fields. And selfie taking, and a nice little pace line that we 40-or-so lucky Pro-Am riders fell into. And since I wasn’t too sure how I stacked up to the mostly French (and lots of shaved legs) competition, my plan was to stay up near the front as much as possible.

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And to take in as much as possible. I’m mean, yes, it was just like riding a bike…In The Tour de France!

I’m pleased to report I was able to hang with the shaved leg set for most of the day. That is until a wee little category 3 climb shot me right out the back. But that’s cool. I had no delusions about my “training” (that literally consisted of scrubbing the rust of my abandoned bike and riding a few flat Massachusetts miles) before this ride. And as you can see by this little clip shot by my new buddy Aaron Davis, I was able to recover somewhat on this sweet downhill. I even had some aero mojo going on.

And then it was just hammer time for the last 20 miles of the ride. The shaved leg set at the front started to pump out a 24-25 MPH pace, and I just barely had the gas to stay in their slipstream. That is until the whole group took a wrong turn. And since I and a couple other guys saw the mistake, we decided to stop and let the others catch up. And that might have been a good idea but then myself and my french buddy here we beckoned by fans on the side of the road.

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As you can see, the tour brings out the best in every town it passes through. These folks were well into party mode in spite of the fact that the peloton wasn’t going to race past them at over 30 miles an hour for many hours yet. And they welcomed me and my pal with open arms. The lead cheerleader even took this photo for me with my phone. And this was only one of the many, many parties of smiling people we saw on the road.

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And that’s maybe was best part of the ride. The smiling, smoking, wine-drinking, cheese eating, motor-home dwelling, beach-chair sitting fans that lined the route all cheered. Every one. Cheered. Allez, Allez, Allez! Go. Go. Go. Can it really get any better than that? Actually, yes.

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This is the view (from the oh-so-VIP-area) I had of the Stage 6 sprint…

cavendish_stage6…that was won by none other than Mark Cavendish wearing Richard Mille’s watch!

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And this is the oh-so-VIP area. Needless to say, I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to experience Le Tour this way. And I have a pretty good feeling I’ll be cycling back in France soon. For you see, I’ve just signed on to ride about 1,000 miles from London to Monaco in September to help raise awareness and money for the Blue Marine Foundation that’s dedicated to protecting our oceans and establishing marine reserves.

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Watch this space!

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