How to: Etape Registration
The L'Etape registration is a very fun part of doing L'Etape.
Apart from the necessary registration, the L'Etape registration is a fun few hours hanging out at a mini bike show.
Loads of manufacturers like Time, Ridley, Look, Specialized, Trek, SRAM are at the registration with loads of things for sale.
You'll be able to buy energy gels and bars, as well as probably the best cycling socks I've ever bought (3 pairs 2009, 6 pairs 2010).
We turned up at 8.00AM and promptly were turned around as registration didn't start until 9AM. We headed down to the Pau train station (Gare de Pau) and had coffee and croissants.
Registration times are advised closer to the date, however they are roughly:
-2 days prior: 2PM-8PM
-The day before: 9AM-8PM
If the registration days are on TDF days, you'll be able to register in the morning and head to the TDF to watch if it's nearby.
The registration is actually pretty painless and well organised.
You take your entry passport and passport to a section dedicated just to your group (e.g. riders 2000-3500), and present it (hint: knowing some French, at least “hello” and “thank you” is much appreciated by the French – check out Coffee Break French).
After receiving your entry pack, you go and get your backpack and tshirt (medium is the smallest size?!!). The backpack comes with Etape waterbottle and other schwag.
Hint: if your pack doesn't get this red mark on it, you could probably pass it to a friend and get them to go and get another tshirt/backpack pack.
After this, you're free to roam around taking in the sights and sounds.
You’ll need cash is in case you find anything you’d like to buy. There are loads and loads of very cool and great-value souvenirs. Whilst most places accept credit cards, some take cash only.
Happily, there's usually coffee, and the Rapha VW Kombi was there knocking out some pretty respectable coffee.
There are usually some free mechanics on site for Etape entrants to make use of. We all had our bikes checked for various reasons (turns out the noise in my cranks was a cracked bottom bracket, which I found out upon my return) in 2010.
In 2009 and 2010 Mavic provided this service, with multiple mechanics on site and almost all speaking some English.
However, I strongly recommend getting your bike serviced before you go, and don’t plan on using them unless absolutely necessary.
Below are some photos I reeled off, including Cancellara's motorised bike!
All in all, a pretty fun morning, and I can't wait to do it all again next year!
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