My son Jack found a website during the preparation for our adventure in France advertising the "Paris Loop Ride." The website explained that 10,000 civilian riders would be selected via a lottery and allowed to ride on the finishing loop of the Tour de France in Paris.
To qualify, an application must be requested from the website, filled out and returned. Those selected would receive an invitation and an arm band to be worn around the wrist the day of the ride indicating a qualifier. The color of the wrist band would indicate the color of shirt the qualifier would receive from a booth near the Eiffel Tower the day before the ride.
We sent our entry forms in and all of us received our qualifying arm bands. The shirts we would be given were all yellow. We had hoped for one shirt of each color but the important result was that we had been selected to ride.
I assumed riding the Tour de France loop in Paris was an event held every year. I learned from my son that this was the first time the French had sponsored the event! That added a special feeling to the experience.
In Paris my wife rented a bike to join us on the ride. The morning of the ride we waited with 10,000 other qualifiers at the start. All of the riders wore their shirts of yellow, green, polka dot and white. Each color represents an individual winner in the Tour de France. Yellow is awarded to the over-all winner, green is awarded to the winner of the most sprint legs, polka dot is awarded to the “king of the mountains” or the rider who has successfully gotten to the top of the mountain climbs first on the Tour stages, and white goes to the rookie with the best overall time.
With 10,000 riders, I was apprehensive that I would perish in a huge bike accident ten minutes after the loop ride began. To my amazement, the crowd dispersed quickly and we rode the entire 20 miles in the clear.
Jack surprised us with small American flags he brought with him from the States that he insisted we stick in our helmets on the ride. One group of French riders began singing the US national anthem as they rode pass. I could not return the favor and sing the French anthem! Several Americans rode up next to me and asked where I lived in the States and had I followed the Tour.
The Loop Tour itself was approximately 20 miles in length. The route started along the Seine River turning at the Arc de Triumph to complete the second half of the loop. We had begun to ride near the Eiffel Tower.
The Coke Company provided complimentary bottles of coke at the finish. There was also the usual bag of goodies. Jack found hats and other goodies that we missed out on but later he gave us two yellow hats that he had found. It was great fun!