Friday, January 29, 2010

Climbing vs. Posing

In 2006, while riding sections of the Tour de France route and watching the race, we came across the immaculately-dressed cyclists who had signed up with Trek Tours for big $$$ to be there as well.  Not only did they all have matching jerseys and Trek Madones, but as the Trek van rolled up alongside, the driver passed them water bottles!  I suspected that they were eating somewhat better than we were and staying in much nicer hotels.  I did persuade Udo, our minibus driver, to pass us bottles though.

In 2010, Trek Travel has taken this degree of service even further and is offering participants the chance to ride electrically-assisted bikes!  These will give you an additional 350W of power so that when you make it to the top of the Izoard, you will feel just like Fausto Coppi did.  Except, of course, he didn't use a motor scooter.  With a baguette on the rack.

I don't want to sound like too much of a curmudgeon, but doesn't this dilute the meaning of the whole project?  I have to admit I was always a bit annoyed by the motorcyclists who were posing for photos in front of col signs on the famous climbs in the Alps, making us wait to take our own pictures, since, basically, all they had to do was twist a throttle to get to the top.  Nothing has given me a greater sense of accomplishment than getting to the top of a legendary climb under my own power, just like Jacques, and Eddy and Bernard and Miguel and Mario did.  Well, maybe not Mario, who, when the road went up, usually went to the beach instead.  But I bet he didn't use an electrically-assisted bike there either.

The Izoard
photo by the estimable Will, Creative Commons

1 comment:

chris said...

Electric Bikes!!! No... ;-) Last summer a group of us did Milan-Basel and the feel of being on top of the Gothard Pass... well is something you cant explain. They rob themselves of the reward.

However I did see a group of Catholics going the reverse direction on Moto Scooters from Cologne to Rome. I have to say "Respect" to them for the pure miracle of engineering that they managed to keep those small (and for the majority old) motors working over the pass ;-)

KC-Germany