Anyone can test their mettle on the 21 switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez and surge toward Paris along the Tour de France's winding route through Provence, but working out the logistics for such a trip might prove more exhausting than the pedaling. We respectfully suggest signing up for one of these bike tours, which handle all the mind-numbing details, from schlepping your luggage to manning the sag wagon so you can focus on your race against yourself.
But these tours are notable for more than making riding through the landscape that shaped modern bikes pleasant, since each one ensures that the rider makes it to key points d'observation when the actual Tour de France peloton flies through, meaning you could be watching and – in your own way – participating in the 2014 Tour de France. Book fast for next year's Tour, since these trips begin to fill up as soon as the new champion makes his way down the Champs-Elysées.
Another bike tour giant, Trek Travel offers more than 50 tours in North America, Europe, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Australia. Trips range from basic ride camps to luxurious cycling tours. The Tour de France options definitely fall into the luxury category. The VIP Race Experience Tour, specifically, is designed to make you feel like part of the RadioShack Leopard Trek team – or at least the friends and family contingent – with behind-the-scenes access to the cyclists and special access to the race via private viewing areas kitted out with open bars and hors d'oeuvres. There are three riding options that correspond to Le Tour's stages: Corsica to Nice, Provence, and Alpe d'Huez to Paris. Daily rides are geared toward intermediate to advanced cyclists and range from about 20 miles to 65 miles. Whatever trip you choose, you'll get to ride the all-new Trek Domane with Di2 electronic shifting, and you'll pocket a $300 discount on a 5 or 6 series Trek Madone or Project One. Book early; these tours cap at 25 participants and typically sell out. [All-inclusive, starting at $5,599 for 6 days/5 nights; trektravel.com]
Credit: Courtesy Trek Travel