It’s funny, the result of a passing conversation with a chap about the Tour De France, in a totally different country, led to yet another, but possibly the second best change to my plans.
I have been travelling to see the tour for 6 years now. Usually in the south in places like Pau, Castelnaudry, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Carcassonne, regulars I have visited. I learned of an alternative way to get up Alpe D’Huez. Was of the top two I would personally say, of the top 5 climbs of Le Tour. The others being Ventoux, Galibier, Tourmalet and Col D’Aubisue.
You can travel from Grenoble on a bus to Bourg D’Oisians, which is where everyone uses as their base for the climb. But, get a bus back to Allemont and a free bus, zig zagging up to Oz en Osians, quite a nifty ski resort place. The handy bit, is you can take two ski lifts from there, over to the town of Huez, where the race finishes for £20. No hassle, beat the crowds there and back and I’m no lugging ma bag, full of drink and food, chair and the likes a long distance.
I got a gaff booked, a doozy hostel place called the Moontain Hostel. A bit pricey for what you would consider for a hostel and although it was 12 to the room, it was super big, space, you had your privacy, showers were Ace and the host Marko was a hoot – very kind, funny and helpful, a real family place, open really just to serve those going to Le Tour.
I met a chap called Thomas on the bus on the way up, but more about him when I write about Rochetaillee. Today is about Alpe D’Huez and after too long a lie in, I get a cable car to masel just after 11am to scoot over. The top of the town is buzzing, big crowds already, all the people involved in the race, sponsors, logistics, teams etc. are ferreting about for some lunch, to I stop for a nifty burger and beer lunch, I’m ready to find ma spot.
The crowds are forming by the barriers already and it’s a scorching hot day, I walk down round the corner to the 1km mark looking for a spot, but there is nowhere to catch the coverage of the race. I head back up to the 75-150m marks and find a wee spot on a grassy knoll. What I will say at this point is, I have had my fill of fighting at barriers, near finish lines and starts, with rude locals, who like those in some parts of Asia, will quite happily put their hands on you to get by or a space. I just want a typical, chilled, watch the race, get boozy, eat cheese and catch the finish type day and that’s exactly what I got.
I’m not sure if I’m into the whole bucket list sketch. What I do know is I have never been to a mountain top finish, as I don’t drive and they are not normally easily accessible. This was a first for me and I was gonna enjoy it baby! As you can see from the sunburn – I did, despite having my factor 30 Bronze on. I think what is really good however, is there is always a very strong police presence. In full gear, visible, with handgun, pepper spray and a big baton to ram up yer erse if you get out of line. They have undercover boys there as well in the crowds, listening, watching and checking dodgy looking back packs. Well done the Gendarmerie!
I got some good photo’s of the Alps, and the caravan of sponsors as they went by. Even tho you’re looking out for the riders, they came round the corner that quick I never really got then. What’s interesting is there are many friends I have subsequently found out have skied up that area. Anyway, have down the road for freshly made Ravioli at the gaff, beautiful. Oh and some beers and to bed, tomorrow is another day on the Tour.