In 1903, the Tour de France was born out of a desire to promote paper sales of a magazine called L’Auto whose competitor at the time was a similar magazine called Le Velo that was selling nearly eighty thousand prints a day. Long distance bike rides were popular at the time; however none of them were the length of the original Tour de France that originally took place between 31st of May to the 5th of July.
Starting in Paris and stopping in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nantes before returning to Paris. The costs were considered too great and the daunting distance only attracted fifteen entrants. Soon after, the timespan was adjusted to the 1st through the 19th of July. The entry fee was reduced from twenty francs to ten, allowing more people to participate.
A reward of three thousand francs was awarded to the winner of each day and a grand prize of twelve thousand francs was offered to the overall winner. This meant that people could, over nineteen days, earn more than a factory job paid within a year. After redesigning the rules and rewards, between sixty and eighty participants took part. The magazine later changed names but is still in circulation today. More importantly though, so does the Tour de France.
The Bike Tours
It is considered one of the ‘big three’ bike rides. The others being the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. Each comprise of three weeks cycling although the Tour de France is considered the most prestigious. Since its inception, thousands of people have ridden the huge distance over a twenty three day course, completed in stages over twenty one days. From professional enthusiasts to the adventurous minded, its world famous reputation is well deserved. Professional sports companies can sponsor skilled riders to take part and cover any necessary costs but the competition is not exclusive to athletes. Enthusiasts, families and many more people can take part in smaller chunks of the tour over a two or five day period.
Cyclists looking to compete in the tour professionally have to undergo very strict training in order to be able to have the endurance needed to cycle such a large distance so consistently. The tour usually covers mountain ranges that can wear down hardy people with ease. The person however, is just as important as their bike. Road bikes are the standard as their thinner tires give less friction whilst riding. The frames are typically very lightweight and are designed to support the rider with consideration for aerodynamics by positioning their bodies in such a way that they encounter minimal drag whilst speeding downhill. Most other ‘standard’ bikes do not have these frame adjustments in order to reduce costs. Triathlon bikes are typically built to incorporate such improvements.
Whilst signing up to take part in the full twenty one day tour can be as expensive as £3000, you can sign up for a minimum of two stages at £375. However, a charity event takes a different approach that is much more affordable. Raise some money for a charity of your choice and you can join hundreds of people that ride from London to Paris, ending with you viewing the final stages of the Tour de France. Though it may sound daunting, the trip is spread over four days and covers two hundred and ninety nine miles. Thankfully, to cross the channel to France, you get a ferry! If reading the previous paragraphs made you recoil, remember you aren’t obligated to take part in such a feat. However, you can potentially kill two birds with one stone. Getting great exercise and then raising money for a charitable cause helps make such a challenge easier to deal with.
If you choose to try this long ride, here are some things you’ll need to consider.
-Do I have the right equipment?
Yes, a bike is helpful. But so are things like waterproof clothing, water bottles or Platypus drinks containers. First aid kits, puncture repair kits, tyre pimps and a decent crash helmet. All of these will only make your journey better.
-Am I physically able to do the ride?
Those of you who haven’t ridden a bike in a while will find its worth putting some time into some cycling to help increase your endurance. Even if you find a comfortable pace, you’ll still have to cover a lot of distance over four days and you wouldn’t want to miss your ferry.
-What about my passport?
Simply make sure it’s up to date and that you can take it with you for when you disembark from your ferry.
-What about the sponsorship?
There are different packages available from Global Adventure Challenges that offer several options to suit you. Contact them directly to learn what would suit you best.