Here are a few of the stories that Etape riders had to tell.

The Commonest Quote

Who said the last 50 miles were down hill?

Tom wrote about the Hare and Tortoise (Its another Ron in this tale - not me!!)

The Etape du Tour is no picnic as Peter found ..

We lost a lot of time at the picnic stop - consequently, I missed silver by 6 minutes !!

At to 50km to-go sign, I realized that I had exactly 1.5 hrs to achieve silver (10hr 6 min) so I asked a French rider if we could do it (thinking that he may know the profile) and he said - "possibly - just".

So we worked together, catching many groups on the way - including riders from our Baxter' Tour plus a couple of our local riders - some of them joining in for a couple of km. However, I obviously hadn't noticed the fine "saw-tooth" profile and suffered on the up-hill sections - but managed to finish with the French guy - so very satisfactory in the end. Analyzing the result sheet in the VELO Magazine (see photo attached), we caught about 700 riders in those last 50 km.


Paul was delighted with the helpfulness of the French:

Having climbed the Soudet so well (only 2 riders passed me) I stopped to stock up on food and fluids and then began to make the long descent down the other side smugly congratulating myself on how well things were going. I had prepared well for going up the climbs but it soon became apparent to me that I was not so nearly as well equipped for going down them. Overly nervous on the bends I found my self braking excessively and was losing big chunks of time (the smugness had long vanished to be replaced by something closer to fear). This eventually led to a major blow out on one of the longer straight bits and some really scary moments before I brought the bike under control and stopped very close to a farm wall that had been moving towards me at an alarming rate. No sooner had I stopped than a nearby French family who had been spectating were swarming around me offering assistance. When I say family I mean it mum, dad, children grandparents and cousins. They had my wheel out and tyre off in no time and than helped me with the change. After lots of handshakes and thank you's they had me back on the road in no time. I was so grateful for their help.

All in all a wonderful wonderful day. I had a second puncture near the end in an isolated area with no spectators so had to fend for myself but still made it safely to the finish with only a puncture repair outfit for any further blow outs.

I will be going back in 2006.


Second 100 Miles!

It was only the second time I'd ever done over a hundred miles. It was a great event and left me feeling both exhilarated and completely knackered. Being among thousands of other cyclists and cheered on by onlookers was indescribable!


The Etape on a Touring Bike

As virgin Etapper I managed to complete the event without elimination with a bronze classification in 10 hrs and 25 minutes on my trusty steed (Dawes Super Galaxy). I met 2 other Brits also riding Super Galaxies during the event, one was Dave Kane, the other one I can't remember his name. Maybe next time I'll look at using a pucker racing machine.

One of my clearest memories at the moment is coming across a one-legged guy cycling up the Larrau - it was amazing, hat's off to him I say.

The two aspects of the event which I was most concerned about beforehand turned out to not be a problem at all - that was bunch riding, and the other was descending. Both were great fun, and I only had one near moment when I was a bit casual going in to a turn and ended up nearly running out of road, but otherwise no problems.


The Atmosphere

Of many lasting memories I will have, the best were near the top of the Bagargui where an older gent, seeing the pain all over my face, growled in a meaningful tone 'Courage Monsieur.'

The other is the run into Bayonne, where it seemed to me that the whole street was leaning out of their windows and shouting 'Bravo.'

Roll on 2004


Jonathan encounters Miguel Indurain!

Sam finished the Etape in a creditable 7hrs 50 minutes despite a fall. Here is his story.

Andrew and many others had trouble with a cancelled flight. Despite this he managed to compete, though some were not so lucky. Here are his comments

Malcolm has some striking impressions of the Etape

Michael and his wife were riding Tandem down hill at speed, when an horrific accident unfolded in front of them. Here is their account: accident