Fans from all over the world head to France during July to watch the greatest free sporting event in the world. Many Acme members have joined the millions of fans on the road side over the years on mountain stages, Time Trials and the finale on the Champs Elysees. In 2017 the focus for four Acme members was the “Queen Stage” which circled the Alpe d’Huez massif in the Department of Isere. There was no climb up Alpe d’Huez this year but there was still plenty of action to watch both at the side of the road and on the television.
An early start for Bristol Airport with cases and bike boxes and a two hour flight to Geneva marked the beginning of the trip for Chris Thomas, Jeff Matthews, Kerry Lewis and Mark Nichols. A very efficient transfer to Bourg d’Oisan and everyone was ready eat and have an early night after the long day of travelling.
The Sunday morning was spent putting the bikes back together ready for the road, Mark was acting as consultant ashe had not recovered from a fall earlier in the year and did not take his bike. The start was delayed as Kerry tried to work out why the water bottles would not fit on Jeff’s bike. After much “technical” work it was discovered that Jeff had put them on upside down. The first ride was to the village of Allemond, where the sprint would take place on the Wednesday Stage and had been chosen as the spectator spot for the day. An easy flat ride to the village led to a short climb up a barrage and after circling the dam a sharp climb into the forest to return to Allemond and then back to Bourg.
Monday’s ride was up to Deux Alpes, though the plan was to take the less arduous route via the cable car. Though it was a beautiful sunny day at the top of the mountain, there were dozens of people using the lifts to ski on the glacier high above the resort. After a quick snack it was a “easy” ride down the main road, stopping at intervals to enjoy the view and give aching hands a rest from the brakes. Though we only covered 30 miles in the day it was a very interesting ride with many photo opportunities.
The first big climb of the week came on Tuesday, it was back to Allemond and the short climb up the barrage. This time the camper vans had started to gather in the village, even though it has two campsites, the spaces along the road side where used wherever possible. After the barrage it was right turn towards the village of Villard-Reculas. This winding climb was 5 miles long and involved just under 2000 feet of climbing. It led to one of the “balcony roads” above the Romanche valley and then the high point of Pas de la Confession at 1542m (4500ft). Chris Thomas’ effort on this climb belied his seventy years as he showed great determination to get to the top. The road to Huez village was largely down and from there to Bourg d’Oisan was definitely down with a few stops to allow the wheels to cool.
The Tour had arrived, not in Bourg d’Oisan, but not too far away. Mark and Jeff drove to the agreed vantage point while Chris and Kerry were on their bikes. An early start for the car journey to ensure a parking space, and somewhere for breakfast. The lads on the bike left it a little late and had to argue with a gendarme who had closed the road to everything, even cyclists. Fortunately we were all able to meet up on the barrage and have a great day. We met people from all over the world, even had a guy from Hirwaun take our photo. To top it all Bernard Thevenet stopped by for a chat and photo. We were close enough to Bourg to get back to watch the second half of the stage on TV with a few drinks.
Thursday was the day for Alpe d’Huez, but Jeff was out of sorts and Chris felt it was one ride too many. So it was left to Kerry to carry the Acme jersey around the 21 bends. On a fine day with little wind Kerry made the ride in one go even going back at one point to have his photo re-taken.
On the last day we only had half a day on the bike as they had to be taken apart and boxed ready to for the return the next day. Chris decide to pack early and have a wander around Bourg. Kerry had his eye on another “balcony road” so Jeff joined him on the climb to the Col de Notre Dame. This four mile climb included three tunnels, one almost 400 mts long and very dark, and 2491 feet of height gain. It was a stunning ride with views up and down the valley offering endless photo opportunities.
All that was left now was to get the bikes back into the boxes, pack the cases and enjoy the last night. Unfortunately this was spoilt by a thunder storm and heavy rain which lasted from the late afternoon to late in the evening. So it was a TV meal for Chris and Mark while Jeff and Kerry covered up and made the walk to the restaurant. A great week was had by all.
More pictures from the week:- Click Here