The alternative route to Paris

A look back at Lachlan's Alt Tour.

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Fixing your own punctures. Preparing your own meals. Riding upwards of 300 kilometers in a single stage. These were just some of the features of the Tour de France in the early 20th century. Seeking a new challenge, Lachlan Morton set out to reclaim the spirit of the original Tour de France. The goal? Ride the entire Tour de France route, plus transfers, and reach Paris before the peloton.

It’s not unusual to develop aches and pains when riding a Grand Tour, so when Lachlan’s knee became sore after covering 940 kilometers in the first few days, he knew he had to get creative. Enter a pair of plastic sandals and flat pedals he picked up along the way. The sandals quickly soothed his aching knee, allowing Lachy to push ahead with the Alt Tour.

The conditions were not always kind to Lachlan. He encountered rain in the opening days, heat in the south of France, and mountains just about everywhere else. With a double ascent of Mont Ventoux and some particularly tough stages in the Pyrenees, the terrain tested Lachlan. Despite this – or perhaps because of – he found joy and motivation in the simplest of moments. Biting into a freshly baked pastry from a local boulangerie. Setting up camp for the night next to a flowing river. Enjoying a cold beer in the grass after a long day in the saddle. The act of warming up a meal–to call it cooking would be a stretch–over his portable stove evoked the adventurous spirit of the original Tour de France. Indeed, the ghosts of Tour riders past accompanied Lachlan on his journey across France.

While Lachlan rode the Alt Tour without the support of mechanics, hotels, and soigneurs, he did find support en route in the form of dot-watchers. Following the dot as it marked his progress online, fans met up with Lachy on the road to offer encouragement, company, and snacks. Perhaps the biggest morale boosts came in the form of visits from his family in the closing days. His wife joined him for lunch in Andorra and a few days later, unbeknownst to him, his father flew in as a surprise in time to see his son head off for the long ride to Paris.

With the sun slowly rising on the Champs-Élysées, he finished his final lap this morning, reaching Paris ahead of the peloton with days to spare. Chapeau, Lachlan, chapeau.

 

Relive his journey