Tour de France Fans Helped Us Reach the Top of the Giant of Provence| Vendula Kosíková
“We originally planned to push the scooters up Mont Ventoux since the route ascends quite steeply, but when you see the huge crowds of fans lining each side of the road and cheering you up, you can’t help but get on your scooter and push off hard,” the Yedoo team riders agree and add: “It was such an unforgettable experience!”
There were almost one million fans standing along the 20-kilometre-long route up the highest mountain of Provence, as estimated by the Czech Television. They began arriving there early in the morning in order to find a place that would offer them the best view of uphill ride of this year’s Tour de France racers. Some of them arrived with their caravans several days earlier, kept their caravans parked by the road, sat at the camping tables enjoying wine and food.
We Went to France to Support the Kick France 2013 Project
Our team, made up of the Yedoo brand enthusiasts, went to France to support six scooter riders within the Kick France 2013 project, who succeeded to ride the entire route of this year’s Tour.
On 12 July we set out on the 242 kilometres long stage 15 of the famous cycle race, and after a two-day ride we reached the top of the cycling mecca - Mont Ventoux.
Vive la Tour! Decorated Roads and a Scented Ride through Provence
“When Kuba Bostl offered me to join their team to attend the Tour de France, his vision to ride over one hundred kilometres per day on a scooter seemed rather unrealistic to me. However, when we began training, I became convinced that we would accomplish our mission and actually began to look forward to it. After all, I am very happy that I could go there. The locals managed to create a truly marvellous atmosphere during the Tour. The roads as well as the towns were decorated: there were bicycles displayed in the shop windows, on balconies, even on trees; people drew hearts and wrote encouraging messages on the roads. It was such an incredible experience,” Míťa Lalák says happily.
Stage 15 of this year’s Tour went through the sunny and scented Provence; lavenders, sunflowers, as well as garlic were in bloom in the fields at the time the race took place. A gentle breeze wafted the scent of oleanders and roses from the gardens. “When riding a scooter, you notice details that you would certainly overlook on a bike or in a car,” Alena Romanovská is convinced: “In midday heat we could hear the crackling of ripening corn in the field; next time we were so bewildered by the strong smell of the herbs growing near the road, that we didn’t even take notice that we were riding uphill.”
Stage 15 of Tour de France 2013
- Starts: in Givors
- Finishes: on the top of Mont Ventoux
- Length: 242 km
- Time achieved by Tour cyclists: 5 hours 48 minutes
- Time achieved by the group of six scooter riders from Kick France: 18 hours
- Time achieved by the Yedoo team: 3 beautiful days of comfortable ride
Exhausted, Yet Absolutely Enthusiastic
“Although the event was very physically demanding (we set out on the route after 8am every day and finished around 9pm), our support team helped to put us at ease and gave us peace of mind. I used to have moments of crisis before lunchtime, we had to face them every time we passed the half of our daily track, which was sixty kilometres. Nevertheless, I felt absolutely exhausted after passing a seemingly inconspicuous section of the route, which looked as if it was going slightly downhill, however, I found it much more demanding than the ride up Mont Ventoux,” another member of our team, Marek Skopal, says.
“I felt almost like a professional racer, since the support team accompanied us the whole time, offered water to us, gave us snacks and Katka Pilátová (wife of the Yedoo brand general manager) prepared delicious dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for us. It was a really sweet and magical experience!” Jirka Lalák describes the event.
Mont Ventoux – Inexorable Facts
- The mountain is 1,911 metres high and is located in the south-eastern part of the Provence Alpes.
- Its name can be translated as “windy mountain”.
- The uphill ride up Mont Ventoux has been part of the Tour de France for the 8th time.
- For the first time in 1951 and for the last time in 2009 and then in 2013
- The uphill ride from Bédoin to Mont Ventoux is considered one of the hardest parts of the Tour by professional cyclists. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.43% and the length of the route is 21,825 metres.
- There is the largest cedar forest in Europe growing on the slopes of the mountain. Its peak reminds of a moonscape, with its weather station.
- Mont Ventoux plays an important role in the history of cycling - Tom Simpson, British cyclist and Tour leader, died 2 kilometres from the summit, Merckx as well as Jean Mallejac collapsed there…
- This year’s Tour de France leader Chris Froome won the stage on Mont Ventoux (51:33 minutes).
Better than Seaside Holidays or Where to Go Next Year?
We were 27 persons, who went to France, some of us completed the entire stage 15, others rode just a couple of kilometres or half of the daily track according to their abilities and fitness. They spent the rest of the day taking care of their fellows, driving the caravans to other site, inflating tyres, tightening brakes, taking photos, helping to prepare food, etc.
Standa Král spent a wonderful holiday there: “I managed to relax more than if I had spent 14 days at seaside. I got rid of stress, stopped thinking about the company and my family and enjoyed Provence and the atmosphere of the race to the fullest.” The biggest challenge for Jakub Bílek was to drive the caravan down the narrow streets of small towns in France; Jakub Nosek was delighted to meet Mr Zimovčák, who rode several stages of this year’s jubilee Tour on his historic bicycle; and our chief constructor Jakub Bostl was glad that the scooters proved reliable in very demanding terrain and showed great endurance.
Everyone of us has gained valuable experiences in France; we discuss our impressions on our journey home, and sitting in the car we think about where to go next time on scooters… maybe Giro d’Italia…
…and Marek, who was convinced that he would get fed up with scooters after the event, is planning to commute to work by scooter…
…and I look forward to downloading all the photos, hoping that I managed to capture the joy and enthusiasm for scooter riding, that mirrored in the faces of all the participants in this lovely event.
Vendula Kosikova on behalf of the Yedoo team