Events: Bastille Day Rondonee - The Mid-Season Tour
(2015) The United States has the Fourth of July, Mexico has Cinco de Mayo, and France has Bastille Day. When the Tour de France’s tenth stage moves into the mountains from the town of Tarbes to La-Pierre-Saint-Martin (a distance of 167 kilometers), it is a certainty French riders will attack for glory. Not only are the French excited to have two prospects in Bardet and Peraud both of Ag2r - La Mondiale, but to have the first mountain stage after the first rest day be Bastille Day will make for entertaining bike racing.
Strangely enough, France had a hand in each of the first two’s revolutionary celebrations. France helped the American colonies defeat the British during the Revolutionary War. The rebels were on their knees; France would prop them up through funding and naval warfare. Later in 1789, French peasants stormed the nearly four hundred-year-old Bastille fortress, designed to keep the English out (and royalty in), King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette were overthrown and executed. Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s victory celebration over France during the Franco- Mexican War from 1861 to 1867. During the colonial period, France had an uncanny knack for finding its way into revolutions.
Expect to see the French attack each other up stage ten's Col de Soudet. The flat run-up to the sides of the mountain mean a breakaway has a good chance of staying away. One way to experience the stage is to rent a camper, park it on the slopes two days early, sit and wait for stage ten, wait for the peloton to roll through, then head on to another stage or go home.
Or, one can register for the Kermesse Sport's newest and soonest event, Bastille Day Randonee. At 135 kilometers (82 miles), it will serve up a decent bang for an American dollar. Since the Bastille Day glory will be happening live in France, Kermesse Sport advertises that peasants will have the opportunity to live like a king after the ride with a viewing party that involves libations (and perhaps cake at Mme Antoinette’s behest).
Riders could book a flight to Tarbes and ride the average 7.4 percent over 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) at the end of the stage by bike, or one can stay local, start at V5 Cycles in Flemington, and imagine crazed locals shouting alongside each of the climbs totaling 1400 meters (4600 feet) on a stomach of croissants and coffee.
In the spirit of the olden days of the Tour, the ride will pass through towns where the ghostly black-and-white photos of yesteryear’s cycling greats were photographed during lunchtime stops at watering holes. There is no support, nor should there be. There is no rest station, nor should there be. Riders can pull it over in the difficult to pronounce French New Jersey towns of Stanton, Dreahook, Grandin (that one actually could be French), Woodglen, Califon (again possibly French), Oldwick, Raritan, and Neshanic Station. The route sheet has noteworthy stops highlighted, so in the spirit of those olden days, these stops should be considered highly.
The summer race season is probably sagging for many after having strong spring schedule. Riders with fall ambitions are still prepping. Most of us have ridden the same roads too many times already this year. Perhaps it’s time to revolutionize the route, rejoin the masses, and give the Bastille Day Randonee a serious look to act as a hinge to the 2015 season. Who knows, there just may be a local French national attacking up one of the climbs in the spirit of the Bastille.