Day 4: Megève
Today’s plan called for an earlier wake up call in order to get a head start on biking in and around Megève the location of today’s finish of Stage 10 the Tour de France. We fueled up on breakfast and hopped in the van for the hour-and-a-half drive. Parking just outside of the village, the bikers set off while Jo and Eileen walked to town.
Starting in Megève, the bikers rode downhill 12 kilometers to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. Once everyone arrived at the bottom, they met for a cappuccino break. After re-caffeinating, they started the route back back up the hill to the base of Megève, and onward to the end of the stage at the top, about 8 km up at 7% incline.
While the bikers were riding, Jo and Eileen wandered around Megève, finding shops, bakeries, and official tour merchandise. There were shuttle buses to take spectators up to the top of Megève, but we did’t want to get stuck when they closed the roads. Instead, we chose one of the many (and appreciated) boulangeries to pick up sandwiches for lunch. With our picnic in tow, we scoped out a few options to watch the caravan and race and found a great spot along the route to park ourselves for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, Matt had biked back up the same hill he went down and briefly stopped to see Jo and Eileen before continuing up the road to the finish line on the Megève Airport runway. Having reached the top, he biked back down all the way back to the van to get his day bag and regular shoes and finally stopped back along the route with Jo and Eileen.
Phil had also finished his ride and met us on the route as well. By that time, more people had also claimed their space and it was started to get crowded. We spread out as much as we could and had our lunch. We met a few women standing next to us who were from BYU and were studying abroad. They came to watch the stage because one of their professors was a “diehard biker” and talked about it, but they had almost no knowledge about the Tour or what was about to happen. We tried to be helpful by telling them about the caravan and where to stand for the best chance at the freebies (namely, away from us). Eventually, the caravan came through and we had fun grabbing as many goodies as possible — including a can of non-alcoholic beer right off the float.
The Tour was about 35 kilometers away from the finish when there was a demonstration taking up the road. The race was paused until it was cleared and safe. The race officials had to make sure that the same time was kept between riders once they were able to start again. Soon enough, everyone was back on the route and racing towards the finish. We had a great view when they passed us about 25 minutes later. Pro tip- if you are a young cycling fan you want to get a good view, convince your parents to take you to the route more than 5 minutes before the riders pass.
Once the main peloton went by, we started making our way back to the van. Everyone else was already there finishing getting their bikes secured. Matt and Phil added their bikes and gear and we were quickly on our way back to the chalet.
Tomorrow will be an early start (at 7:30) for the bikers to get enough time to climb a couple of routes before the tour passes their route. Jo and Eileen will stay in Courchevel to hike around and go up to 1850 for lunch.