The international cycling fan is a hardy breed. We gather from far distant locations to ascend on small roads, mountain tops, and cafes in a mix of languages and nationalities. We rise early in the morning to peer at tiny maps plotting our approach. We carry survival supplies for 4-10 hour days because this day is important to us, we need to be there. We hike for miles up pathways and roads to stand in sandals on 8% slopes for hours. We endure Mother Nature's best and worst weather conditions. We sit in gutters, sleep in fields, giggle over caravan trinkets, play and smile with our fellow fans, and we cheer like mad in our 15 minutes of glory. Those 15 minutes when the riders need our cheers of encouragement. Allez, courage, venga, dai, come on, go!
Do you ever watch music awards, when the artist wins they always says, "I want to thank the fans." We may not hear this line often in the sport of cycling, but I bet every rider could probably tell us a story when he remembers a fan giving him just the right word of encouragement (or at least a distraction) at the right moment in time. I swear I could see Johan Van Summeren's body physically lift with excitement as he entered the velodrome and heard the roar of the crowd greet him during last Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.
In pre-race interviews, several riders mentioned watching the race as a child, dreaming of one day racing the Paris-Roubaix themselves. Don't they know that is why we are all out there, young and old. We all wish we could race that race, ride with the best, be the best. We love the struggle, the underdog who overcomes the odds, the sure bet who loses out, the unexpected. This is sport, and we as fans are part of it; bare buttocks, large antlers, old ladies, small children, and those of use who ride the course at 1/2 the speed of the pros. We the Fans.
To the Sponsors who want our attention, to the media that want our viewing, to the towns that want our tourism, but mostly to the riders who need our enthusiasm - you can count on us being there through the ups and downs of this sport. A VIP package can never outdo the experience of being with our friends or family on a beautiful hillside waiting for hours for our 15 minutes of glory as a fan.
PedalDancer.com blog is now 1-year old, with 40,000 pageviews from cycling fans in 118 countries and 4600 cities around the world. This is my 334th blog post. I continue to be grateful and inspired every day, but mostly I'd like to thank the Fans! All Photos by PedalDancer.com
click any image to enlarge
|Riding and walking up the route on a day of the Tour de France in 2008|
|Fans at Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux, Dauphine 2007|
|ITT at Amgen Tour of California, Los Angeles 2010|
|Tour of California finish area in Westlake Village, 2010|
|Making sandwiches roadside Tour de France 2008|
|Even the Press are really just fans|
|With the Basque fans on Plat d'Adet 2005|
|Watching the race approach on the TV on Alpe'd'Huez 2003|
|A sea of fans and riders at the Finish of the Tour de France, Paris 2010|
|A field of fans, mountain top of Col d'Aspin 2008, Tour de France|
|Fans huddle in the cold on Col d'Aspin|
|The Caravan at the TDF 2005|
|Mark Cavendish saying hi to the fans Los Angeles 2010|
|A group of fans riding up the climb at the Tour de France|
|Lance rounds the corner inches from the fans at the ITT at Tour of California|
|The fans on Mount Palomar Tour of California 2009|
|San Luis Obispo, Tour of California 2007|
|Fans love the pageantry|
|Just hanging out with your friends for the day|
|Families enjoying the day|
|When else can you walk down the middle of the Champs Elysees, 2003|
|No better way to spend a day!|
All Photos above are by Karen at PedalDancer.com (and my two brothers and sister-in-laws and nephew). Thanks for the good times! My calves have never recovered from standing on the steep slopes all day on Plat d'Adet in 2005, but George won!