France in 2013

Image credit: Gerry Patterson

2013 has been on my mind for the last few months. 2012 has been phenomenal. How can I top it? For awhile, I was somewhat committed to doing Iron Man Florida next year. I even went ahead and made arrangements to volunteer this year, which allows you first dibs on registering for next year. I had even ramped up my running slightly (from 0 to maybe 3 miles per week, very slightly), and put some 5k races on my calendar.

Change of plans. I’m now going to France!

I have wanted to ride in the France alps, and even considered a trip for next year, but that went went on the back-burner once I geared towards Iron Man. Lately I’ve been waffling on going the triathlon route. I can run, but I’m not a runner. I don’t particularly enjoy it. As I started to think about next year’s rides, I felt disappointment that I would skip some amazing cycling, only to focus on running and swimming.

I received an email this week from fellow blogger Gerry. He is a Canadian living in southern France that shares the same passion for hills that I do. He just happens to live near some of the historic, legendary climbs that the pros ride through every year in July. He was putting together a small team for the Haute Route event. Would I be interested?

Yes. Emphatically, yes! I had to first clear it with my wife. I’m lucky to have a cool and understanding wife. She gave her blessing, and I hope she can come with (depends on her school schedule).

So I’m in.

The Haute Route is a 7-day cycling “tour.” I don’t mean that in the casual bike tour sense, where I take my time riding at 12 mph, stopping for every tourist attraction that I encounter. This is a tour in the spirit of the Tour de France. It is a timed event for amateurs that roughly simulates seven stages of the Tour de France. In other words, it will be a world of pain, but I will love it!

This year’s route is from Geneva to Nice, and passes through all of the historic climbs of the French Alps. From what I understand, you name them and they’ll be included. This year has a time trial up Alpe d’Huez. Ouch!

Now that I am going forward with this endeavor, I need to plan my training. Yes, it is a year away, but I’ll need all that time to get prepared. I will be renewing my relationship with Apex Nutrition all the way through the event next year. I may also explore some affordable coaching options. This will be one of the rare years where Assault on Mount Mitchell will actually be a training ride.

France. Galibier! Ventoux! Madeleine! All the rest. I almost cannot believe I’m doing this. In the immortal words of Bart Scott, I can’t wait!

26 responses to “France in 2013

  • Robert Armstrong

    Welcome to the team Aaron. It’s going to be epic. As you said, this is not a “tour” of pleasure and given Haute Route is described as the world’s toughest and highest Cyclosportive, there will be pain involved. Besides, I’ve done 7 Ironman races, and this will be way more fun. If any of your friends are intersted in experiencing a little of what it must be like to participate in the Tour de France, we still have 5 spots open on our team. First come, first serve. Enjoy the Ride….Rob

  • suzecycling

    Ahhhh…proceed with caution! πŸ˜‰ Or perhaps better still, proceed with abandon! Riding in France is an incredibly addictive, enjoyable, seductive, fabulous virus: once caught it is not easily managed! Witness Gerry, he moved there. And Rob, who might retire there. And me, who gets on a plane every time I can. (As often as the boss who writes my paycheck, which buys the ticket, will put up with it.)

    What’s more, it doesn’t seem to matter if you tour, like you and your team will, or tour, ” in the casual bike tour sense” stopping at historical sites at 12mph like me! Both are addictively wonderful. I could plead age, if not gender, but cycling is a great way to experience the world in any fashion!!

    It sounds totally wonderful, congratulations, and good on you! It will be very fun to follow your team’s progress. I’d love to hear more about coaching and nutrition as you go along.

    And aren’t supportive understanding spice (pl. of spouse) just the best!1

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Suze. Yes, my spouse is amazing. I am lucky to have her. πŸ™‚

      I enjoy both definitions of tours. In fact, my Colorado trip was much more the latter definition (mostly because the altitude gave me no choice) and I loved it. I liken this one to a fast-paced, see everything tour. Once I’ve completed this one, I may stop to smell the flowers on subsequent trips.

  • Gerry Patterson

    Aaron, bienvenue en France! The Haute Route looks like an event that can really live up to the name ‘epic’. I’d like to say that next summer can’t come fast enough, but I’d sort of glad we have a year to prepare!

  • Zeke Yount

    I think suzecycling said it best: “Good on you!” What a great opportunity. I would offer to go and carry your bags but I couldn’t keep up! Congrats! I’ll look forward to the preamble to the tour and then the tour itself.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Zeke. I wouldn’t sell yourself short. With the proper training, I’m sure you could handle this tour. Or if it not, just try it with a motorcycle sometime. πŸ™‚

  • Steve

    Good luck! It will be fun to see you and Gerry team up for adventures together. I haven’t heard you speak, but it is my sincere hope you have a strong southern drawl, which will go perfectly with Gerry’s Canadian accent. The French have no idea what they’re in for!

  • linkinito

    Welcome to France πŸ™‚
    And don’t forget that the most known and mythic climbs (Tourmalet, l’Alpe d’Huez, Galibier, Madeleine, Croix de Fer…) are not the hardest! There are some climbs, much less known, that are steeper than the “grand climbs”… Mont du Chat, Plateau des Saix, Grand Colombier, Luitel…

  • fizzhogg

    Wow. WOW. As a Hill Slug (someone who loves climbing but sucks at it), I can only dream of one day being fit enough to do this. I have chills just thinking about someone I *know* doing it. Congrats!

    If you contact my web site – – I can give you some info on a professional coach who would probably be somewhat budget-friendly.

    Best of luck. I can’t wait to read about your year of training and then the event itself!

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Paul. The whole idea is quite intimidating, and I get chills even thinking about it. If you asked me a couple years whether I would ever try something like this, I would have laughed at you.

      I may take you up on the coach suggestion. Right now I am wrapping up this year’s season, and will probably start looking for coaching around November.

    • suzecycling

      Finally, I know my bracket : hill slug. Love if!

  • Jim Brennan

    Great Post! I’m trying to get information on two stages of le Tour in 2013 that go through the Pyrenees Mountains. I’ve found that it is tentatively Stages 11-12 scheduled for July 10-11. I’m planning to go. If you, or any of your followers get better information, please post here or on Thanks, and good luck. Oh, and be thankful, your wife is a sweetheart.

    • aaronwest

      That she is. I have never really researched the Tour route beforehand, but I’ll be paying closer attention next year. I’m sure you’ll have a great time, and I look forward to hearing about it.

  • Frank Burns

    Go for it. It sounds a great challenge!

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