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Visiting the Tour as billy no mates or organised trip?!

nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
edited May 2012 in Pro race
I really want to go to the Tour again in July, maybe staying in the Chambery area. I last went in 2005 to the Pyrenees. Fortunately for me i'm in a position where i can do something like this, not the same for my training partners who have family commitments etc.

I've never travelled alone and think going to the tour alone might be a difficult when travelling with a bike in a bag etc. Has anyone done this that can advise?

Other option is an organised trip but there are so many out there and a lot of them are very expensive, it's very difficult to choose. Again, any recommendations welcome!

Thanks :)

Posts

  • TheStoneTheStone Posts: 2,291
    Do you have any clubs near you. Might be worth checking if they have a trip going or a forum where you can post your plan.

    I don't think you'll have any problems getting around (with bike bag), but always a bit more fun if other people going.
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  • nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
    Yeah I ride for a local club, nothing going on regards to what I'm thinking of doing. Given the current economic situation people are wanting to save the pennies too!

    It's a tough decision which way to go
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    The most difficult part of travelling alone with a bike and luggage, through airports and stations is going to the toilet. I grab any chance to go whilst on a train or before I pick up the bike from luggage collection. Apart from that, no particular issues.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 47,999 Lives Here
    Moved to pro-race - hopefully will get better traction.
  • greasedscotsmangreasedscotsman Posts: 7,224
    Yes, you should defo go! You've been before so you'll have some idea of what to expect.

    Bike bag can be a problem, but if you fly to somewhere like Geneva you can get a trolley at the baggage reclaim and use that to get to the car hire desks which are inside the terminal. Think you then take a mini bus from there to the multi storey where the hire cars are, but the driver should be able to help you. It's not like Lyon airport where you have to take a bus and you can't get on it because of everyone else pushing past you. Also Geneva is pretty easy to get out of and onto the motorway. Bit of a nigthmare getting back there, but then sat nav is your friend!

    I would avoid using an organised Tour trip, the costs seem to have rocketed up this year. And then your also tied into someone else's schedule. The times I've been on that kind of trip you always seem to be waiting for someone or having dinner at 11pm as you got to the hotel late.

    I've been to the Tour a couple of times myself on my own. I wanted to go, but nobody I knew was able to go, just like yourself. First time I went in 2008 I stayed in a chalet in Venosc, which is close to Alpe d'Huez. The advantage of staying there against a hotel was that for that week it was full of cyclists! So there were people to talk to at dinner, you don't end up as "billy no mates" in a hotel resturant!
  • DavMartinRDavMartinR Posts: 897
    This may be an option for you with regard traveling .................

    http://www.bike-express.co.uk/

    I haven't used them, but getting through Paris on the Metro and the TGV isn't exactly hassle free. Plus you'll be traveling with fellow cyclist, so no more Billy no mates.
  • BikingBernieBikingBernie Posts: 2,163
    I have done both and the 'DIY' option is a much the better bet. An organised trip will be focused purely on the racing, which means spending hours (and hours) everyday on a coach chasing the race just to get a glimpse of the riders - on the flatter stages at any rate. I have also experienced the 'dinner at 11 pm' situation and the costs now seem to be crazy.

    Much better to target a location where you can target a couple of key stages in the mountains and also get in some riding and enjoying the local sights and culture. Travel light and you could even do a bit of touring on the way to / from watching the racing as well and cut down on the need for train / bus transfers.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Ive done organised coach trips and DIY by air. Coach was a lot of fun with mates - but its a lot of travel and you'll read a lot of magazines on the way.

    DIY air was good too - Easyjet to Geneva, Easycar to the Alps and cheap ski hotel on Alpe d'Huez. We had breakfast in France on the Alpe, lunch in Switzerland and home for tea. Bikes were easy enough - but go mad with pipelagging.
  • On_WhatOn_What Posts: 516
    I've travelled alone with a bike box and a suitacase - no problems for me.

    I reccomend taxis and avodining trains though!
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,034
    On_What wrote:
    I've travelled alone with a bike box and a suitacase - no problems for me.

    I reccomend taxis and avodining trains though!

    I'm going down for a sportive in August and was planning on getting the train down. Is that not a good idea?
  • nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
    Wow thanks for all the useful info guys!

    When I went in 2005, we went on the train all the way to Toulouse. It was painful to say the least-never again!

    11pm dinner sounds awful I can't think of anything worse. That confirms my doubts about an organised trip, plus I think I'll find them too slow.

    I do have the week planned out, Mon to Fri flying to Geneva with easyjet, and if in the Chambery area, the big mountain stages of the Alps are on the Weds and Thurs. Hopefully a couple of friends are trying to convince their other halves to let them go! Damn marriages!!

    I have flown with a bike and easyjet before with no problems, with an Alu frame though. This time it will be carbon and I think I'll even build a light wooden frame to protect the ISP! Plus a mile of pipe lagging!

    Thanks again for the inspiration
  • greasedscotsmangreasedscotsman Posts: 7,224
    nicknick wrote:
    I do have the week planned out, Mon to Fri flying to Geneva with easyjet, and if in the Chambery area, the big mountain stages of the Alps are on the Weds and Thurs. Hopefully a couple of friends are trying to convince their other halves to let them go! Damn marriages!!

    Can you not travel a day earlier? You could then go to the TT on the Monday. Maybe stay somewhere like Dole? Rest day the following day, so relocate to Chambery in the morning followed by ride in the afternoon. Seems a shame to miss out on Brad "kicking bottom" at th TT!
  • nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
    Sounds a good idea, but I don't think there were flights on the Sunday if I remember correctly. Will double check though. Flights from the smaller northern airports were a fortune for July, even from Manchester! Only reasonably priced ones were from Luton, a fair drive away but easy enough to get to.

    Do you happen to know a website where smaller french trains can be booked? I can only seem to find www.sncf.co.uk site that never seems to list trains I'm looking for! I called the UK number on the site and spoke to a most unhelpful French guy and managed to get a couple of times and prices. Was hard work though.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    Have you thought of flying to Basel on the Sunday? That's kind of near TT too.
  • DavMartinRDavMartinR Posts: 897
    nicknick wrote:
    Sounds a good idea, but I don't think there were flights on the Sunday if I remember correctly. Will double check though. Flights from the smaller northern airports were a fortune for July, even from Manchester! Only reasonably priced ones were from Luton, a fair drive away but easy enough to get to.

    Do you happen to know a website where smaller french trains can be booked? I can only seem to find http://www.sncf.co.uk site that never seems to list trains I'm looking for! I called the UK number on the site and spoke to a most unhelpful French guy and managed to get a couple of times and prices. Was hard work though.

    Try this for local trains........

    http://www.tgv-europe.com/en/train-tick ... re&hid=9RH

    I did a quick search from Geneva airport to Chambery which seen to work, I put random dates and times though.
  • DavidCrDavidCr Posts: 44
    http://www.voyages-sncf.com is easy enough to use to get from Geneva airport to Chambery.

    If you wanted to go through to Albertville or Moutiers for Stage 11 you could get on the local train, it may be advisable to get the ticket a few days in advance so you are not disappointed. The train from Moutiers to Albertville costs me 4.40 euro each way so I would expect the Chambery to Albertville train to cost around 10 euro each way.
  • ellerslierdellerslierd Posts: 266
    I'm flying out to Toulouse with some mates for the Tour. We are going to try and solve the bike bag problem by using a self-store thingy near the airport (I think the company is called Annexx). Not always the most convenient, but I lugged a bike bag around the Pyrenees before and did not enjoy it.
  • DavidCrDavidCr Posts: 44
    We are going to try and solve the bike bag problem by using a self-store thingy near the airport (I think the company is called Annexx).

    Good idea. There is a similar service in the train station next to Geneva airport.
  • nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
    Someone else has mentioned this to me too. Does every airport have this service and any idea of cost?

    Suppose it's only useful if you're not planning on using trains though as they generally have to be boxed or bagged. Found this out the hard way when trying to get from Pau to Toulouse on the train, ended up riding!
  • ellerslierdellerslierd Posts: 266
    The storage tends to be separate to the airport itself, it just happens the one in Toulouse is near the airport. The other difficulty we are having once the bags have been dumped is finding secure storage for the bikes overnight. They wont stop you taking a bike bag into a hotel room, but may stop you with a bike... Sneakiness or the gift of the gab may be required....

    I've got in touch with them about the prices, I'll let you know what they quote us
  • FoldingJoeFoldingJoe Posts: 1,327
    Hey,

    I'm flying out to Geneva with a friend on the 6th with EasyJet from Bristol.

    Drop me a pm if you want to get together.

    Cheers,
    FJ
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  • nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
    I've never had issues storing a bike in the hotel room, but generally choose cheap and cheerful ones!

    Hi FJ thanks for the kind offer. A mate has confirmed he can go so we will be booking tomorrow woohoo! What are your plans?

    Regarding where to stay for the best access to the stages on the 11th and 12th, i'm looking at Chambery, Aix Les Baines or Annecy. Any tips? Cheap and cheerful is the type of hotel required, just somewhere to sleep with an all you can eat continental breakfast will do!
  • DavidCrDavidCr Posts: 44
    Annecy is a nice place but IMO Chambery or Aix les Bains will give you easier access to this years stages.
  • DavidCrDavidCr Posts: 44
    Annecy is a nice place but IMO Chambery or Aix les Bains will give you easier access to this years stages.
  • FoldingJoeFoldingJoe Posts: 1,327
    Nick,

    I did some searching about 3 months ago to try and find cheap hotels in and around the areas where the stages were finishing.

    We were looking at finding somewhere near La Planche des Belles Filles for the end of the Tomblaine > La Planche des Belles Filles stage, but couldn't find anything cheap, and also the same for Belfort > Porrentruy. Looked at trying to get booked up in Belfort for the Saturday night but couldn't find anything reasonable.

    Plans are to fly to Geneva late on the Friday, and stay the night in Geneva. Then drive to somewhere on the Tomblaine > La Planche des Belles Filles stage to watch, and then stay in and around Belfort for the stage on the Sunday, and then back to Geneva for our flight Sunday afternoon.

    Looks like we'll be camping.
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  • nicknicknicknick Posts: 535
    Hi Joe
    Looks like you're heading way north of Geneva. Surprised you couldn't find any good hotel deals.

    I have booked a hotel in Aix les Baines for 4 nights for £145 so that's 72.50 each, pretty good i thought. Staying there we are very close to both high mountain stages on the Wednesday and Thursday, and Aix les Baines is just across the small lake from the Col du Colombier!

    We fly on monday the 9th to friday 13th, early flight out and late flight home so 5 days of riding! Can't wait!
  • Dan IngramDan Ingram Posts: 79
    Hi sorry to Hijack. We are planning to go the same week but are driving down and mostly camping. Have any of you camped at the tour before. We are going to the Wed and Thurs Alp stages so the plan is to get to the bottom of one of the climbs the night before and find somewhere to camp then ride up the climb in the morning to get a spot.

    Is it do'able? How hard is it to get a camping spot and is camping free or do you get charged everywhere?
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