Five GORE® employees crossed the Alps with 400 other riders during the 2017 Tour de Friends – a social and fun, but still challenging, four day ride in the mountains. We talked to them about the experience.
GORE®: Walter, you are a former pro cyclist. What do you think about this event? Did your tactics from your racing days help the team on stage three?
Walter: Given the distance and the elevation my focus was “preserve legs, appropriate nutrition and hydration” as classically you would approach the queen stage of any tour.
However, due to the weather forecast my first priority became protection against the elements. It could have been a serious issue being caught unprepared on the queen stage.
GORE®: Tobi, you were ill in the beginning. How did you get survive this tour and how do you feel now?
Tobi: I knew that it was going to be a tough one and I had very little time to recover. Luckily I learned a lot about my body in the past, what it can cope with and when it’s better to step back and rest. Of course I didn’t have the “final punch” and felt that the top end was missing. But with every stage I felt better and better. Just to be safe I was always wearing a beanie and a scarf which helped me not to cool down and expose myself to the elements to much. To be honest: I have never valued the performance and protection of our apparel more than in these four days. Right now I am still coughing a bit but already enjoyed the first rides on my new CX bike, so it’s not too bad. Looking back, I am glad I joined as I don’t want to miss any second of this epic event with all these unique moments and memories.
GORE®: Ludovic, is it true that you haven’t been on a road bike before? You wanna do this again?
Ludovic: It’s not completely true that I have never been on road bike before. The last 6 years I’ve spent 100% on my MTB. But 6 months ago I found out I would be part of our Team, so I bought a road bike and I decided to mix my training. It’s true that I have never cycled more than 80km a day. Four days with three stages over 120 km was a challenge. But I discovered something really interesting. Road cycling is really fun but even more this is a perfect tool to improve my MTB skills. After the Tour de Friends my physical condition is much better than before. So definitely I will use my road bike for preparing the next long Enduro Race. Riding such an epic stage ride with the products you sell every day, gives you much more confidence about their performances. Great to experience that.
GORE®: Pascal, stage three was long wet and tough. Which products did help to survive this day?
Pascal: Frankly speaking, I will not forget stage three as it was an unbelievable experience because of many different aspects:
1st: Longest stage with over 190 km riding, after already being in the saddle for two days. I am glad we took the first days pretty easy and thanks to my fantastic teammates. Cheers Guys.
2nd: and foremost: The Weather: As you can imagine, as team we have been very much discussing the day before how the weather will be, what clothing to wear as well as its impact on our strategy. To be honest it turned out like the cherry on top of a large ice cream – like the perfect script for an awesome movie. A perfect GORE-TEX® day!
The majority of time we road in wet and chilly conditions. For me personally quite demanding, however unbelievable satisfying. I know this sounds strange and like marketing speak, but feeling the performance of our products and seeing our product promise come alive made me very proud and confident.
I did not worry too much about my clothing system, rather focused on my personal performance, keeping up with the pack and enjoying the scenery as much this was possible. Sadly, we did not get to see too much of the stunning dolomites – weather was just not our friend here. To add to this – so many riders wearing our products – from overshoes to gloves and helmet caps and for sure our latest innovation: GORE-TEX® SHAKEDRY™ jackets. It was very inspiring as well as rewarding to be part of this experience we all had at RAD RACE Tour de Friends. It still have a big motivational boost coming back to the office and sharing the appreciation across all colleagues. It has been the perfect payback for all the hard and dedicated work we do. To sum it up: Bad weather always looks worse through a window & I like people who smile when it’s raining!
Last but not least – the last third of the stage – sunshine, smiling people and Italian spirit. Nothing to add here.
GORE®: Patric, you cycle a lot. How did the team work together over the last four days?
Patric: As we have never cycled in this group formation, it was more a question of trust rather than performance… The evening before the race we all agreed to do this as a group ride and to follow the RAD RACE idea of having a great time together with friends – so no racing. This turned out to be the right decision- we took it slowly and enjoyed the roads, the scenery, each other. Fixing 1-4 flat tires per day because of the gravel parts of the course, having one or two even longer Espresso (or a beer) breaks. Doing some photo shooting sessions for our social media channels, chatting with other participants at the checkpoints quickly gave us a the right feeling. No pressure – just pure cycling. This turned out to be the right decisions and we all grew together during the four days.