Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tour de France Finale - À Pied

More and more frequently, I find myself thinking about cycling during my runs.   Don’t get me wrong. I am truly enjoying my running these days and plan to keep at it for a while.  Still, I am also forward to climbing back in the saddle and rolling down the road.

However, there are rare occasions when the two worlds meet and that’s what happen on my 10k run through the streets of Paris early yesterday morning.

Sherry and I always stay in the 6th arrondissement when we visit Paris.  This means that I frequently run pass the Musée du Louvre and through the Jardin des Tuileries.  Since I was leaving early on yesterday’s run, I decided to skip the park and stay on the roads.  The route was fairly simple.  I was going to run up the Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomphe and back.

I ran through the Louvre, past the pyramid, to one of our favorite streets - the Rue de Rivoli.  As I past the Hotel Regina, I saw the famous statue of Joan d’Arc.  I looked to my left at the tunnel that comes out from under the park and remembered the hundreds of times I’ve watched on TV as the Tour de France peloton came out of the tunnel and turned left on to the Rue de Rivoli.

That’s when it hit me!  I was basically running the final circuit lap of the Tour de France.  In fact, I would be running right past the official finish line.  For many years now, the Tour de France has concluded with a 7k finishing circuit on the Champs-Élysées with the race going around the Arc de Triomphe in more recent years.
Empty streets on the Champs.

This revelation added a whole new perspective to my run.  Now, as I was running through the empty arcades on the Rue de Rivoli, I could imagine it full of thousands upon thousands of crazed cycling fans.  Where I was running freely, it would be difficult to move.

These thoughts continued as I ran around Place de la Concorde and headed up the Champs-Élysées.  I can almost here the crowd reaching a fevered pitch as the sprinters head for the finish line.  Me?  I was heading for the Arc de Triomphe.

As I ran along the Champs, I was once again surprised that it is actually a small hill.  I can also hear cycling commentator Paul Sherwen reminding viewers that it’s a climb and back in the day the Tour de France actually offer King of the Mountain (KOM) points at the top.

The spectacular Arc de Triomphe!
No KOM for me on this run.  Just a slow steady pace up the Champs and then around the Arc.  It is an amazing piece of architecture and it looked especially beautiful this morning.  After circling the Arc, it was time to head back down the Champs and back to the apartment.

I finished with a perfect 10k (6.2 miles) on a perfect morning for running.  When you add the nostalgia of being in Paris and the excitement of following the Tour de France route then you have the perfect running adventure.  What could be better?

Well, actually riding a bike along the route might be better.  I mean if running it is cool then cycling it must be better.  And, that’s just what Sherry and I are planning to do on Christmas Day.  We’re hoping to take advantage of little to no traffic and give it a go.

I just hope that I don’t start thinking about running during the ride.