Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Joining the Tour

YunoJuno is a very bicycle-friendly company. All three co-founders cycle to work, we've done London-Brighton and Oxford-Henley-via-the-Chilterns, and we're avid followers of Le Tour.

So much so, in fact, that this time last year Shib (our CEO) announced that in 2014 he was going to head to Paris for the final stage. Fast forward twelve months, and we've moved the office over to Paris for the week in order to make this happen. Airbnb sorted us out with a great apartment in the 7th, complete with discordant jazz clarinet coming from the neighbouring flat.

On the morning before the final we took to the VĂ©lib' (the original city bike share) and cycled much of the final lap - including the full length of the Champs Elysee (up and down) and a circuit around the Arc de Triomphe.

Since we had to do a fair bit of research to work out where to watch, I thought I'd share our experience...

First thing is when to arrive. The timetable for the stage (available online) is pretty accurate, and the first 'event' is the arrival of the 'caravan' - basically a bunch of honking, hooting, carnival floats that precede the peloton by a couple of hours. We figured we should get to our spot at about the same time they did (so anticipating a two hour wait for the action). This is about right - we found a spot on the river, within the lap (so we got to see the peloton eight times), and the crowds were pretty thin at this time.

Barely-there crowds a hour before the action
Shib wanted to be close to the action, so he took the river side of the road, whilst I stayed on top in the Tuileries gardens, with a view down on to the road.

And then we waited. And I fell asleep. And then it all kicked off.

We had a fantastic view - I've posted some of my pics on Flickr, and Shib has some spectacular roadside action shots - we had about £4k worth of camera equipment between us, and of course the best shots came from an iPhone.

The Yellow Jersey on his way to victory
And then it all ended. Being a little way from the end we weren't entirely sure it had happened - you lose count of the laps, and then suddenly you realise they're not coming round again. The medal ceremony is short and snappy, and an hour later the whole thing's disappeared. And throughout it all the crowds really never became a problem - someone came and stood by me and had a perfect view and he only turned up halfway through the race.

Altogether it's a great experience - definitely to be repeated.

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