Hear from a first time finisher of L’Etape du Tour about how tackling the legendary climbs and descents of this famous stage was made better with the support of Trek Travel.
1. Prep Week
L’Etape du Tour is a one day event. But when you join Trek Travel, that’s only part of the experience. The opportunity to spend four days in the Alps prior to the race was vital to my success on game day. Not only did it give me time to acclimate to my surroundings, including the altitude and time zone, but the daily rides were perfectly designed to prepare me for the L’Etape course. As a result, when I faced the mighty Col d’Izoard 150km into the ride, I was mentally and physically prepared for the challenge. I could relate it to other categorized climbs we had already conquered that week (such as Alpe d’Huez and Col du Galibier), as opposed to being daunted by its stature that just can’t be compared to the meager hills back home.
2. Private Rest Stops
The overwhelming support from our Trek Travel guides was the key differentiator that set my experience at L’Etape du Tour head and shoulders above that of the other riders. The ASO does an excellent job organizing the event, but with 12,000 exhausted riders in desperate need of replenishment, rest stop chaos is inevitable. Riding with Trek Travel enabled us to avoid this mess entirely. With strategically located private rest stops, we could simply ride past the traffic jam at official feed zones and instead receive a warm welcome from our Trek Travel guide just down the road. There are no lines, just coolers fully stocked with ice cold beverages, snack tables overflowing with real food, and tents providing relief from the elements. Taking it one step further, we packed bags with extra layers that were available to us in case the weather turned. From sunscreen to caffeine, no detail was forgotten and no element left to chance.
3. Ride Buddies
Trek Travel has a great completion rate among their riders at L’Etape du Tour. If you ask them why, they’ll tell you it’s because their riders aren’t alone. While many registered for the trip solo, we all found riding partners of a similar speed throughout the week. It’s incredible how quickly we got to know each other’s riding styles and preferences, so by the time we reached the start line we were a world tour team. L’Etape is long no matter what – it wouldn’t have the same allure if it weren’t – but it’s even longer if you’re out there alone. On a grueling day in the alps when the weather can be as unforgiving as the grades, having a ride buddy to lean on is the key to success. We quite literally pulled each other through the race. And while some provided words of encouragement and others preferred to suffer in silence, it made all the difference to know we were not alone.
4. The Best Bikes
One of the things that surprised me most during L’Etape was the quality of bikes that other riders were on. From vintage road bikes in need of a little lube to beat up hybrids better left in the basement, you could hear them long before they appeared next to you. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I’m going to tackle a ride of this magnitude I want my bike to be in prime condition for the task at hand. I don’t want anything to make the day more difficult than the elevation profile already ensures. With Trek Travel, I got to ride the same bike used by riders in the professional peloton. And just like the pros, I too had a team of expert mechanics who delivered my bike to the start in perfect condition and were there throughout the day if any problems arose.
5. Finish Party
The energy around the Tour de France is infectious, and L’Etape is no exception. Nobody captures the spirit of the race better than Trek Travel! After nine hours in the saddle, it was incredible just to have a fresh change of clothes waiting at the finish. The plentiful picnic and frosty beverages were simply icing on the cake. But even better than comfortable shorts and an ice-cold IPA was having new friends there to congratulate one another and celebrate the accomplishment we had all achieved.
Take on L’Etape