The past couple of years have been different for me with regards to the Tour de France. I am watching this exciting race from the comforts of my own home. I can pause it, rewind, slow down the spectacular crashes, and fast forward to the bunch sprint at the end. It is undeniable awesome! Not to mention I have endless coffee and can multitask and get some work done during the 200km plus stages. Really, can it get much better?
Well…I think so. See I have been a guide for Trek Travel for the past 6ish years and recently became our full time marketing manager, so I don’t get out guiding much anymore. I have guided the Tour 3 times over the years and loved it every time. But it’s insane, from a guide perspective.
Let me explain a little about the 3 weeks at the Tour from a guide perspective. Bump the hours worked any given day to about 15 or so. Make sure you have your headlamp to work on bikes each night after all the guests have gone to sleep after our Michelin starred meal and exquisite wine tasting. And just hope it hasn’t rained that day because then your doing a hefty amount of cleaning as well;) Now right about midnight or so when you are about to wash your hands of the grease, your logistics team calls your cell and says the road you were planning on riding with the group the next morning at 10am, is now closing at 7 am. Time to wake up every guest with a phone call and explain we have to catch our shuttle to the ride start at 6am and breakfast will be at 5am. Then call the shuttle company, the breakfast staff, and check out that night. Perfect, now go to bed at 1am, and wake up at 4am so you can get the bikes loaded up. You get the idea. That’s a pretty normal experience at the Tour. Probably have at least one of these days each week of the race.
The funny thing about all the stress a guide faces is it’s addicting. We get to ride epic mountain stages in some of the most stunning mountains in the world. We get to have dinner with our guests and have Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen stop and say hi. We get to drive our vans up Galiber while the Etape du Tour is cycling on all around us. We get to visit incredibly old Chateaux’s that I now watch helicopters fly by on TV. And of course we get to experience the indescribable feeling of watching 200 professional cyclists pedal past at over 30 miles per hour, with thousands of hungry cycling fans from all over the world. It’s something I just can’t replicate from the confines of my home. It gives me a little pang of sadness when I see the craziness now from my screen. But it also gives me motivation to get back there, to feel the stress that we might not get our guests to the top of a mountain pass, even though I’m sure we will figure it out in the end. I can’t wait to share the streets with my fellow cycling crazed fans.
So enjoy the Tour on TV this year. But if you can, find a way to go there in person and see it for your own eyes. You won’t regret it.