Le Tour de France is even more magical in person than I imagined it would have been. And that’s coming from a guy who’s expectations were already sky-high before I stepped out on to the tarmac at the historic Le Bourget air field where Charles Lindbergh landed after completing the first Transatlantic flight (New York to Paris) in May of 1927.
But then again, arriving for the start of a stage of Le Tour de France (ahem…the first professional bike race I’ve ever attended) in a private jet, and then being whisked to the start village in a convoy of official Tour cars is pretty “magical.”
Especially for someone who’s ridden tens of thousands of miles over the years, and watched tens of thousands of hours of the fittest athletes in the world race through the most beautiful country in the world every July since I can remember.
And since it’s simply impossible to capture the whole Tour experience that’d I’ve just returned from in a single story, I’ll be reporting, reliving, and rejoicing in the magic of not only being at the Tour, but actually being embedded in the Tour in mind-bending, smile inducing, adrenline-pumping ways in a series of stories here and various other mass-media pubs too.
Most who’ve had the pleasure of flying private will tell you it’s a pretty special experience. And I’m not gonna lie. Flying aboard the Tour de France jet down to Limoges from the outskirts of Paris for the start of Stage 5 provided rush of exclusivity and possibility you get when you board a private plane, a killer breakfast, and the chance to talk with several high-ranking members of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO, the organizers of the Tour and many other high-profile events) was tres, tres special.
But the chance to experience it all with legendary French watchmaker Richard Mille—who’s creativity, vision, and sincere and contagious joie de vivre is expressed in his impossibly innovative, sophisticated, technical, beautiful, and priceless watches—pushed this trip into a wonderfully surreal space that combined joy, quality, and athletics, aesthetics, rubbing shoulders with the best in the world, and yes, even a little car sickness, like no other trip I’ve even been lucky enough to experience.
So, get ready. This story has more twists and turns than the steep, narrow, car-sickness-inducing roads of the tour. It has more characters than a Tolstoy novel. More beauty than a well-curated art gallery. And more adrenaline-pumping joy (and behind-the scenes intrigue) than any other sporting spectacle could possibly produce. Part deux hits the internet newsstand tomorrow.