I have watched the Tour de France from the time I was a 7 year old girl, fascinated with the beauty and colour of the peloton, the landscape of the country, and the competitive nature and speed of the athletes.
I have watched in awe as they suffer on the majestic mountains, sprinted for finish lines, and crashed only to rise up from the carnage and carry on.
The buzzing sound of the peloton, the helicopter shots of the teams racing through the sunflower fields and snaking through narrow European towns, the switch backs and summits of the epic climbs, the crazy fans in costumes and in nothing at all have captivated me every July for decades.
My imagination has run wild on many training rides where, in my head, I am attacking on Alp d’Huez, in a breakaway with Jens Voigt, been motivated by the cheers of the fans, and my triumphs are being narrated by Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen, “oh, it’s a beast of a climb!”.
And yet, it is even better to experience it in person. This year, as the pack rode through Ornon and Annecy I was filled with the excitement of also having ridden there, as they summited Mount Ventoux I could see the same roads that I had suffered on, when they climbed Alp d’Huez not once, but twice, I screamed “I’ve been there!”, when they summited the Semnoz I could barely hold my excitement “I’ve done that!”
There are few words that can describe the sense of accomplishment having summited a 30 km mountain and the thrill of the descent. Life changing, awe inspiring, immense pride, and giddiness may be some, but the only way to truly be captured by the beauty and grandeur of the Alps is to experience it yourself.
So who’s in for the Cycling Centre France trip next year?