Vélo Québec's 2006 tour of Northern Vermont
Vermonters are used to seeing bicyclists out on the roads in summer, but the site of 2,400 bicyclists strung out on the backroads of the Northeast Kingdom in early August was unusual. Few seemed aware of the tour, one of the biggest ever organized by Vélo Québec, a Montreal based bicyclists' organization. Vélo Québec has thousands of members an enjoys a close relationship with Hydro-Québec, an all powerful electric utility that maintains a dominant force in Quebec life.
Those on the tour paid anywhere from $300 to $900 depending on whether they were on the five day jaunt or just the weekend. For this they received three meals and day, a place to camp for the night and close support. Vélo Québec carefully mapped out a three day route through northeastern Vermont, starting out in Morrisville and ending up at Derby Line. The remaining days of the tour were routed through the Eastern Townships, ending up in Waterloo.
Participants appeared to be from that middle age group in North American society that believes in keeping fit. Forget lying on a beach or other indolent summer time activity. For many, this was their summer vacation. The tour was well organized. About 150 bicyclists were enlisted to stand at every major intersection so as to make sure no one mistakenly strayed off the main route. There were frequent patrols to help with mechanical problems or to pick someone up who was suffering heat stroke or was otherwise incapable of continuing. In this case, the exhausted cyclist got to ride with his/her bike in the "Abandon" wagon. In French this word is tinged with a certain amount of disgrace!
The 100 mile tour on the Vermont side of the border is not for the casual cyclist. You need a decent bike and you've got to be fit. But the tour took cyclists through some of the best scenery that Vermont has to offer, including the spectacular run up the side of Lake Willoughby. This is where I picked the group up, following it into the Barton area for lunch and then on into Newport and Derby Line. The following slide show offers a glimpse of what it is like to be on this tour! If you were on the tour and see a picture that you want,contact us.
The Map below gives a rough approximate of the Grand Tour route.
Finally, if you have information that would enhance or correct the information on this page, please let us know. We intend to leave it as is for a year or so.
Grand Tour / Vermont-Cantons
» August 5 to 11 ,2006
Cost (taxes included):
Under the stars (1) $695 through June 9 $745 after June 9
Under the covers (2) $995 Under the covers plus (3) $1,110
More and more teenagers are joining their families on the Grand Tour... and they are welcome!
Reduced rate for those 17 and under (taxes included): Under the stars (1) $485
GRAND TOUR WEEKEND PACKAGE, from August 5 to 7
Cost (taxes included): Under the stars (4) $350 17 years and under $245
Number of participants: 2,400 cyclists; 350 employees and volunteers, including 90 cycling escorts.
Start: Richmond, August 5, beginning at 7 a.m.
Finish: Richmond, August 11.