That any cyclist can enter the same arena with the same equipment as the professional helps to make cycling an awesome sport. True, the same thing could be said for golf or tennis but as a fan you can’t stand a meter away from any of those pros and scream encouragement. “Come on Tiger, RIP THAT FUCKER!” And if you attempt entry into Wimbledon wearing a super-fat inflatable sumo wrestler outfit, good luck to you.
Just because you can does not mean you should. Fan behavior has spun out of control on the Grand Tours. I breath a sigh of relief when the riders make it to the protection of the barriers toward the top of each mountain stage. I swear it started with Americans, as usual, during the Tour of California. People were dressing up and acting obnoxious, in hopes of getting on tv. Obviously this has been going on long before the Tour of California but before it seemed these were spectators who were there to watch bike racers go by yet felt compelled to dress up like giant…somethings. At TOC it was all about themselves.
Now that behavior has spread to Europe, perhaps it is Americans on vacation but we can’t afford to travel anymore so I’m afraid the cat is out of the bag. Literally, I saw a giant cat pawing the air at the Giro.
Obviously I don’t understand any of this and I sound like a crank. So be it. I love watching a bike race from the side of the road and I am usually silent, mouth agape when riders go by, holy shiet, they are fast, they are skinny. I approve of yelling and cowbells. I don’t know what compels people to run along side a rider and scream into his or her face. Why?
I have huge respect for professional cyclists, maybe more than they deserve. They are the current embodiment of all the pros that have gone before them. I can’t cheer Fiorenzo Magni going by, and I wouldn’t ever want to get so close as to disturb his line. I afford any current pro the same respect and fully endorse any racer who stiff arms some drunken fan who gets too close.
Here is my starter list for fans that need to be held in small tents with drunk Dutch when the riders pass by. Oh, these people have had their chances and they have abused them.
Cheap bastards who use the tv coverage for their cheap motor home ads
Religious nuts who flash biblical verse toward the tv moto
That guy with the antler helmet
The human sized bike bottle fool
The devil, that’s right, he has had his run
The inflatable sumo people
The four year olds running unleashed
I think we should not crush the ambitions of the Borat-in-mono-kini crew, I don’t know what drives them but somehow, for some unknowable reason, I like them.
Some argue professional cycling is just entertainment, adults riding bikes, but I know there are many cyclists out there who see it as more than just entertainment, it’s, in some way, a reflection of life, and it deserves a little respect.