tour(ing) de france

03

Who are you?
We’re two friends who meet each other during our studies and the interest for cycling is something we’ve developed together.

Tell us more about this journey of yours!
Everything started when we – without knowing what we had gotten ourselves into – signed up for l’Etape du Tour 2014. Quite rapidly, it struck us that we needed to actually travel there. Why not combine it with another challenge? We thought.

We decided to tour through France. From Paris to the places around Pau in the Pyrenees. The challenge would lie in touring with as light and small packing as possible and do it on the same bikes we would finally ride l’Etape du Tour on.

Were there any mental preparations?
We started a couple months before the trip by – over a few beers – set up a “training programme” containing some basic strength combined with running and riding. The plan died fast and at the end we weren’t prepared at all.

How did your material work? What worked bad/good? If you were to do this journey again, would you do anything differently?
We didn’t have any major mishaps. A couple of punctures is expected, but tires a tad wider than 22mm is something to recommend. Petter’s one pedal broke down, and we learned to not bring your lightest gear but to for things that survives the purpose.

One thing that we really missed – which might be compulsory for everyone but us – was a bell.

We bought a handlbar-mounted bag on the way and it was a definite upgrade to faster reach food, tools, cremes, foods and cameras.

How was the riding? How did the exhaustion make its presence noticed?
We rode pretty easy, and the real exhaustion didn’t show itself before the terrain became challenging by the end of our trip when the days were really hot.

The touring was fantastic. I remember using an elevator one time, a couple of days into the riding, realizing it was the first time I was getting somewhere without doing the job myself.

Most memorable meeting?
After riding a whole day through rain we arrived at a fantastic place that we booked through AirBNB. The family who lived there took care of us like we were their sons and invited us for family dinner. We watched the World Championships in football and enjoyed great breakfast the morning after.

Any unexpected obstacles?
One unexpected problem was our Garmin 800 GPS’s sometimes didn’t want to load route guidances for locations further than 100 km away. Instead it lead us to tricky sandroads and similar. A good physical map would have been a good addition but google maps in our phones kept us going.

Toughest vs most beautiful climb?
I thought ascent of Tourmalet was the most beautiful but the descent was the toughest considering all cold rain.

Best restaurant?
It’s hard to remember, but I’d say the lunches alongside the road consisting of eggs, bread, local cheese and cold beer was by far the most memorable.

How did it feel to finish?
Since the finish was on top of Hautacam and we already had a cold descent from Tourmalet in rain and just above freezing it was a delight mingled with terror. We knew that we had to get down again, but when the heaven cleared and the sun came out the way down was nothing less of fantastic.

Stages:

Etapp 1 Paris – Orléans 135,7km

Etapp 2 Orléans – Tours 141,6km

Etapp 3 Tours – La Possonniére 157km

Etapp 4 La Possonniére – Nantes 93.5km

Etapp 5 Nantes – Longeville-Sur-Mer 125.5km

Etapp 6 Longeville-Sur-Mer – Rochefort 116.9km

Etapp 7 Rochefort – Chaillevette 93.8km

Etapp 8 Chaillevette – Saint-Seurin-De-Cadourne 79.6km

Etapp 9 Saint-Seurin-De-Cadourne – Arès 95.8km

Etapp 10 Arès – Léon 174.1km

Etapp 11 Léon – Lucq-de-Béarn 119.6km

L’Etape du Tour – Pau to Hautacam 148,3km

Petter Brandt

Olle Kirchmeier

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