Tour de Friends

Driiiing ! “Guilhem? It’s Patrick! Do you have any plans between 11 and 16 September?” “Not really… Does that mean you want me to go cycling somewhere?” “Yep, Tour de Friends, from Munich to Venice… 4 stages, 600kms including a queen stage through the Dolomites. What do you think?” “Are you making fun of me?! I don’t know why you’re asking…”

I may have already mentioned it once or twice, I’m a Frenchman living in Switzerland. The mix of the two cultures puts me in some pretty amusing/scary situations from time to time, especially when it comes to booking things months in advance as the Swiss like to do. I cycle, I don’t plan projects, visits or even dinners with friends more than a day in advance. No, I like my freedom and I make sure I’m available for exciting last-minute stuff. Like cycling from Munich to Venice.

Packing, unpacking, packing again... that's the story of my life, so I'm pretty good at it.

Tour de Friends is calling

Packing, unpacking, re-packing… that’s the story of my life, so I’m pretty efficient at it – one point for my ego – and my bag is ready for Munich in a matter of minutes. The Tour de Friends is calling and, as a bonus, I’ll be taking part as a member of the Oakley team. I teamed up with the O brand a few months ago – a childhood dream come true – and as a partner of Friends’ RadRace Tour, we got a slot. ”Shut up Guilhem, enough talking, let’s ride!”

4 stages – 600kms, with a strong emphasis on team spirit! I find myself riding with 3 German speakers, feeling like an Erasmus student – ein Espresso bitte, ohne Wurst bitte – but apart from my questionable knowledge of German, I’m totally ready!

No serious time trials, no mass start, the Tour de Friends is all about the fun of cycling – even better if you have tattoos and piercings and like techno music – and that’s a damn good reason to get up every morning.

No race number, no compression socks!

In fact, there’s no briefing, no closed roads, no volunteers at junctions with flags to show you the way… just a GPS track to follow – which I forgot to download on the first stage – 3 teammates – Patrick, Mike and Lutz – and 500 other tough cyclists.

Stopping off to watch the real thing, drink a coffee and enjoy a nice lemon sorbet is nice, as is warming up from time to time to do a KOM Strava – 44km/h – 46km/h – all good? Still there? Yes ? We’re going to make it! Punctures, steep climbs, travel bags that were far too heavy, washing our bike kits in hotel washbasins in the evening, headwinds that drive you mad, engines that run out of fuel…

The O team. Always the best.

Riding in the O team reminded me of one thing: I’m not a lone ranger, and everything is always nicer with good riding companions.

I can do business meetings, photo shoots… I always find time for the most precious and priceless thing on earth: sharing time with friends. If there’s one message I want to get across, it’s this: call that guy you haven’t heard from in a few weeks, get on your bike or your running shoes and make a date for a coffee. These moments are so much more valuable than anything else.

Oh, and by the way… We’ve won the Tour de Friends 2018! So proud to have ridden with these guys, who reminded me of the power of teamwork. Cheers!

Content partnership: Oakley and photo credits: Chiara Redaschi