It had been 17 days
since we’d kicked off our Tour and this was it- the final day, the final ride,
one Sunday in Paris before we said goodbye.
We’d covered about 750km with 16,000m of climbing during the Tour, and I can tell you that with 4 course meals starting at 8:30pm and rarely finishing before midnight, 6am alarms, lots of waiting roadside for the Tour de France to pass and a whole lot of really large hills between Toulouse and Paris- we were pretty glad to be facing an easy 50km ride through Paris and a good sleep in the following day.
The bulk of the Tour was heading off on a ‘sights of Paris’ ride, where they would battle the traffic and hit all of the main tourist spots but we we’re off to do a charity ride that for EU$5 was going to give us (and 10,000 of our closest friends) the opportunity to ride the closed course of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees, the Tuilleries and Rue de Rivoli as long as we agreed to wear a yellow shirt. Not a bad deal, especially considering this was the first time in the Tour’s history where they offered Randonee du Tour and allowed the public access to the race course.
We started our ride at the Arc de Triomphe and headed down the Champs-Elysees with enthusiastic fans already lining the road and cheering us along the way. The pave isn’t as bad as I had imagined, though we were only riding at a fairly relaxed pace taking photos and joking with the crowd.
We rounded the Place de la Concorde, headed past the Tuilleries up on to Rue de Rivoli and back towards the finish line on the Champs-Elysees surrounded in what the organisers referred to as a ‘ribbon of yellow in the heart of Paris’.
It was pretty special crossing the finish line that day, it felt strangely symbolic of a journey complete, friendships formed and the end to what had been an incredible 5 weeks in Europe.
After a quick shower and change, we wandered the streets of Paris that evening eating Macarons, drinking champagne and watching the final 49km of the greatest sporting event in the world quickly coming to an end.
Would I do it all again? Sure- but next time I’m taking a campervan, a bunch of mates, and I’m going to explore the roads less travelled along the way.