Our 2nd and last big tour of 2021 was a custom trip that we originally made for Tom and friends. Tom wanted a tour that would get him 50,000 feet of climbing for his 50th birthday (in 2020 – postponed of coure). We more or less delivered, depending on whose Strava stats you were looking at, but regardless, this one was the toughest tour we’ve ever run.
But it wasn’t just the ten 2000+ meter cols we climbed that made this tour challenging – we also had to deal with the total incompetence of the French government (ain’t no mountain high enough to compare with this one)!
Things had evolved since the innocent days of our HighRoad Pyrenees tour the week before and now the French had proudly implemented a system for Americans (and other non-Europeans) to get their home-country vaccination certificates turned into the French ‘pass sanitaire’. All good, so we sent this information out to our clients before they flew off and they all followed the rules to a ‘t’…then waited. Well, whatever black hole all these emails ended up in, they are still sitting there, because not one of our 5 riders received any response (other than to tell them not to bother following up) and nobody got their ‘pass’. Remember, this is a system that the authorities specifically put in place so that foreigners (who already had the right to enter the country) could access things like museums, restaurants and hotels.
Luckily there’s always a way in France, and we ended up having to get antigen tests every 3 days for all riders so that they could get a temporary ‘pass’ (72 hours) and we could eat in tranquility and get into our hotels. I should say that on the ground stuff ‘evolved’ as well, because most places we went to accepted our clients’ American CDC cards as proof of vaccination (against the law, presumably) – if the French bureaucracy is not very human, French people still are.
So it was all good in the end and our riders didn’t really care about getting tests. They were just overjoyed to be able to come to Italy and France (Italy, by the way, officially accepts CDC vaccination cards) and have the ride of their lives.