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Cyclist accommodation and bike rental between Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aubisque.
Coast to Coast Tour:
Is Col du Tourmalet open?
Monday 5th May 2014.
Is Cirque du Litor open?
Monday 5th May 2014.
Both should reopen in May 2014.
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Tour de France - Race Day Viewing Optionstour
It is possible to drive (if you like traffic jams) onto the intermediate climbs on race day, but not the finishing climb. To see Le Tour on Luz Ardiden or Plateau de Beille will need some planning and some effort.
Camper Vans on Col du Tourmalet, one week before the Tour gets here.
Go up in a camper van and camp there for up to a week before hand. With 2 days to go there is no space for any more campers on Luz Ardiden. You will need to pick your spot very well as the Gendarmerie will move any campers they are not happy with. That could be a disaster if there are no other spaces available.
Camping with a tent:
It is possible to do this the day before, make sure you go up early in the day as the Gendarmerie could decide to close the road at any time if they think there is already more than enough people up there. Be prepared, with food and water and for the pleasures of wild toileting (that’s not a phrase you hear every day!).
Going up on race day:
Either walking or cycling is the only option. You will not be able to cycle all the way to the top. The Gendarmerie will stop you from where the road is barred, usually 2 to 3km from the finish. Also be aware that you will not be able to ride the climb properly with the hundreds of thousands of people walking and cycling. If you want to ride the climb do it another day. On race day cycling is for transporting you to your chosen spot only.
Tour de France - Basque Fans
Leave early and make sure you are at your chosen spot by mid-day. The Gendarmerie usually stops all cycling by 12:30 or 13:00. After that there is a constant stream of traffic, official cars, team cars and coaches, thousands of journalists, etc. The Publicity Caravan will be along at about 15:30.
Tour de France - Publicity Caravan.
THE PUBLICITY CARAVAN IN FIGURES
- A 20-km long parade
- 160 colourful and decorated vehicles
- 600 caravanists
- 33 brands represented
- 16 million gifts given away
- 45-minute long procession
- 12 members of the republican guard
- 4 traffic regulator motorcyclists
- 3 medical cars
- € 200,000 to € 500,000 investment for each advertiser
Tour de France - Publicity Caravan
This will take about 1 hour to pass. Warning! This is when things get mental. The caravan is up to 160 vehicles which have paid the ASO (tour organizers) to drive in front of the race and promote their products. They give away 1,000,000's of free gifts, from shirts, hats, key-rings, armbands, sweets, biscuits, ham, pretzels, etc., etc. The competition to get this “Free Crap” is astounding; from children who are overjoyed to get a hat to grown men having a wrestling match for a bag of jelly-beans. The abandonment of dignity is a fabulous spectacle. My wife is an expert at this and usually manages to acquire 4 times the amount of “Free Crap” that I do. The most memorable moment was when she wrestled a bag of pretzels from a small Breton man on Col d’Aubisque in 2007. I was quite shocked at this behaviour, the poor man was almost in tears as he had no “Free Crap” at all and that was the closest he came.
Tour de France - Publicity Caravan
There will be 3 distinct zones on the climb. The first zone will be very busy with people who have walked up in the morning or early afternoon. There will be lots of kids and families having picnics and enjoying the craic. The second zone will be less sparsely populated with people who have walked and cycled up. If you want to see the riders or take some nice photos of them, this is the zone you want to be in. The final third of the climb will be pandemonium. Here you will find the campers, many of whom have been parting all night. There will also be cyclists who have ridden up that day. Finally, the hard core fans who have walked up that morning (some pushing wheelbarrows of beer). On Luz Ardiden this top zone will be dominated by the orange shirt supporters of Euskaltel (Basque National Team). Many will spend the day up there drinking beer and having the craic. By the time the race approaches the summit they will be 10 deep both sides of the road. If fact they will be all over the road only moving back at the last moment to allow cars, motorbikes and riders the minimum room to pass. The lead rider is like Moses parting the waves, except it is a sea of orange rather than red. The winner should be up top at approximately 17:15 and it will be about 40 minutes until the last riders finish.
After the race passes there is a mass exodus, with tens of thousands of people cycling and walking down. Cars and vans will usually be held up by the Gendarmerie until the numbers have lessened and it is safe. It will be a brief window for drivers before the road is closed again for the convoy of race and team vehicles to get off the mountain. This can take several hours so if you have driven up there don’t expect to get anywhere before 21:00. Throughout the night there will be a constant stream of cars and trucks moving the finish equipment and the campers moving on to the next climb or to the Alps for the following week. The next day the local government crews will be up there cleaning up. It is amazing how little litter is left by cycling fans, but there is a bit. By mid-day the only evidence that Le Tour was there will be the riders’ names on the road.
Tour de France - The day after the Tour the animals get their mountain back.