Have you been watching the Giro d’Italia and wondering what it’s like to experience a Grand Tour in person? Then don’t miss your chance to see the action up close and personal with a once-in-a-lifetime cycling experience, through our partnership with premiere bicycling tour operator, Europeds!
We’re proud to offer exclusive access to the 2011 Europeds Tour Trip, a dream trip for any cyclist. The 7 day/6 night trip includes five nights on the summit of the fabled Alpe d’Huez, the chance to watch three action-packed Tour stages in person, along with the opportunity to go on some of the most breathtaking bike rides you’ll ever experience.
To give you more insight into the trip, we’ve put together a little Q&A with the head of Europeds, David Martin, a man who knows his cycling and his French cuisine!
How long have you worked for/run Europeds?
I’ve worked at Europeds since 1996. I started as a guide, working primarily in France. In 2000, I bought the company and transitioned to more managing than guiding.
How many times have you been to the Tour?
I’ve been to the Tour de France around 14 times. This year (2011) will be my 12th year of guiding trips to the Tour.
What’s your favorite part of leading trips to the Tour?
To be honest, the best part about leading trips to the Tour is being able to be at the Tour. It’s just the greatest and craziest sporting event ever. The atmosphere, the mix of cultures and the drama that always unfolds makes it an event like no other.
I take pride though in being able to offer people a unique glimpse into this great event. Throughout the years I’ve learned how to best design and operate a Tour trip. The most important aspect starts with the hotels. Once you’ve secured the accommodations in a great spot, the rest is pretty easy. For this year’s Tour trip for Performance, we’ve got the best hotel location possible – literally at the top of the Alpe d’Huez. We’ll be there for 5 nights and we’ll ride every beautiful road within reach. That’s the best part about leading a Tour trip!
What’s it like riding in the Alps? Have you got a favorite ride from the Tour trip?
Riding in the Alps is the best thing in the world if you’re a cyclist. The beauty and magnitude of the climbs make it just breathtaking. On the upcoming Tour trip for Performance Bikes I’ve put together an amazing itinerary that focuses not only on some of the classic and well-known climbs, but also some lesser known yet equally as beautiful roads. We’ll get the chance to ride up the Galibier early in the morning of July 21st, the Galibier stage.
At the Alpe d’Huez, you are surrounded by all of the classic Tour de France climbs such as Galibier, Lauteret, Glandon, and the Izoard. My favorite rides, however, are probably some of the lesser known climbs. Although some would argue that the Pyrenees are prettier, the Alps are more intense and the climbs are steeper.
One of the more beautiful roads in the area, and one that many people don’t know about is the road that goes out the back of the Alpe d’Huez. It is called Col de Sarenne. It is the most breathtaking road you will ever ride. Seriously. It is not to be ridden if you are scared of heights.
Besides the Col de Sarenne, there are a couple of other rides that are my favorite in the area, and we’ll ride them both on the Performance Tour trip. I think my favorite ride is probably this great out and back ride up to a very small village called La Berarde. It’s very cool to start the morning off with a 20 minute downhill ride off of the Alpe d’Huez. Once in the village of Bourg d’Oisans below, it’s a classic, gradual climb up to La Berarde where you can get a great meal in a small café on the side of the road. The cruise back down to the bottom of the Alpe d’Huez climb is world class, then the pain begins. The total distance for the day is about 55 miles.
What’s it like being on top of Alpe d’Huez on race day?
It’s really hard to explain what it is like at the Alpe d’Huez on race day. Think mayhem. It is one of the more exciting days you will ever experience. The energy is palpable. This year, we will most likely see between ½ million and 1 million people on the switchbacks and on the route. Being at the top, as you wait for the riders to arrive is like being at the center of the universe. This year, on July 22nd, we’ll wake up and take the day off of riding as we’ll let the pros do the riding today. Most people will probably choose to walk down the switchbacks and find a place on the hill while others will simply walk the short distance to the finish line and stake out a place among the crowds.
Have you got any favorite local food or wine specialties?
When you’re in the Alps, you have to eat Fondue. There are tons of choices for delicious, hearty Alpine cuisine. Another local favorite is a dish called “Tartiflette” – which is a gratin filled with potatoes, onions, bacon and cheese of course. Great riding food.
In terms of wine, the Alps aren’t really known for their wine, but my favorite red wine comes from the Cotes du Rhone, which is nearby. Many of the cyclists on the Tour trip tend to like beer too, but there is never a shortage of quality red wine.
Who’s your pick to win this year’s Tour?
Tough question. Much probably depends on whether or not Contador will be present, but even if he is, I suspect we could see a dark horse emerge. I’d like to say Chris Horner as he’s one of my favorite riders, but Andy Schleck is probably a good pick too. OK – truth be told, I have no idea. You’ll have to come and see for yourself.
Don’t miss your chance for the trip of a lifetime. Book your spot on the 2011 Europeds Tour Trip today!