Thursday, July 1, 2010

THE FAN FACTOR

Part of the fun of watching the Tour de France is seeing the hundreds of thousands of folks who turn out along the roadsides to cheer on the riders each day. I suppose this--along with the beauty of the French landscapes and villages and the intensity of the cycling competition--is what makes the Tour de France so interesting to me. It is a feast for the eyes.




Two years ago, 2 million Britons cheered the riders during the Prologue in London. But the villages, towns, countrysides and mountain passes are lined with people all along more than 2,000 miles of roadways.


Many fans wear their favorite rider or team's colors. Or their nation's flag. They dress up in costumes. Or dress down to...almost nothing.







They drive their campers or ride their bikes up the mountain climbs a day ahead of time. They camp out. They cook out. They paint riders' names on the roadways.  They have a good time.


Tour de France fans are there in the hot sun and cold rain. Enduring the heat, waiting through the downpour. Searing or soaking.




Especially on the mountain passes, when the riders are tired and struggling and slow, thousands of fans press in close and do their best to inspire. Some run alongside, dangerously close.


And all for a few moments, a few glimpses, a brief engagement with glory.





I hope to do this sometime in the next twenty years or so. Just be there on the roadside for the weeks of the Tour de France. Of course, I'll take my bike.

All these photos -- and all photos on this blog -- are accessed from Yahoo! Sports Photos and are by the photographers of AFP/Getty

2 comments:

kentucky joe said...
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bikehiker said...
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