How to Spectate Spectacularly at the Tour de France
Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of men cycling on my television. I do not mean literally cycling on top of my television—it’s not large enough to cycle on, and I make a point of turning away anyone dressed in lycra who calls at my door asking to go for a spin on my box. (Things got weird, to say the least, the last time I let in a man who asked me that.) Anyway, no, I’ve been watching a bicycle race called the Tour de France. It turns out that cycling isn’t just a means of transport, or the first time you use the plastic packaging of a foodstuff. It can also be a sport!
Watching these chaps cycle all around France (and a bit of Germany) bathed in beautiful sunshine gave me an idea. Next year, why not see some of the race in real life by combining a visit to it with a holiday in France (or a bit of Germany)? Upon closer inspection of my box I realised that this was not an original observation, as there were several dozen foreign-looking people watching the race from the roadside. But this doesn’t really matter; sometimes great minds think like other great minds!
Now that I’m an expert cycle-watcher, I thought I’d pass on some tips I’ve come up with off the top of my head, just in case my brilliant idea has got you planning your own French (or a bit of German) sojourn for next year. These tips should impress other holidaymakers, and—more importantly—the cyclers themselves, by showing how much of a huge fan you are.
1. Dress as a huge fan
This is a joke tip, intended to elicit a cheap laugh, or possibly a rueful groan. It is not one of my actual tips.
2. Pick a mountain from which to watch the race
From avidly watching the cycling, I’ve deduced that they go a bit slower up hills. Therefore, I’d recommend visiting a mountain for your race-watching, so you can get some extra quality time with the cyclers. Do make sure that a) it’s a mountain which is on the race route, and b) that you’re not on the side that the cyclers are descending. They go quite fast downhill, and if you try any of the rest of these tips when they’re descending you may die.
3. Take a photo
Cyclers are humans, and, as such, they probably appreciate nice photographs. They also parade around in public wearing next-to-nothing, so you can be certain that they like to be the centre of attention. Why not appeal to their egotistical and artistical sides all at once, and snap their pic? The closer you can get to the action, the better, and more heroic-looking, the photo will be.
If the unthinkable happens and they fall over because they’re too stupid to ride around you, give them a push to help get them going again.
4. Let off a flare in their faces
It’s easy to get distracted by the media circus which surrounds the Tour, as well as the 3,540 kilometres the race will be covering this year. As such, the cyclers sometimes forget how good they have it; being paid to go for spins in the fresh mountain air and all that. Remind them of this by giving a quick taster of the sort of air quality you have to put up with on your daily commute. They’ll thank you for the reality check! (In their heads; they have to ration oxygen when they’re racing flat-out, and the flare will greatly irritate their lungs, so they probably won’t speak to you.)
5. Jog alongside them
Sometimes the cyclers will think that they’re giving it their all, but they could probably go a bit faster if they really tried. Nothing will hammer this point home more than keeping pace with them by foot. You don’t want them to think you’re taking the piss, though, so remember to show you’re on their side by roaring encouragement at their tired, sweaty faces. Also, if you wear an outfit which rivals theirs for skimpiness, you’ll prove that you’re a kindred spirit!
6. Daub some graffiti
If you prefer, you can write the name of a cycler who’ll shortly be passing. Or write something wacky and humorous, and give them a brief respite from fire in their legs and lungs! Do bear in mind that they may not notice what you’ve written, due to the aforementioned (metaphorical) fires. Also, remember that graffiti is almost always ‘daubed’, never ‘written’, and only occasionally ‘painted’.
7. Bring your dog
You might think you’re suffering like a dog in forty degree heat, but you’re not; you’re suffering like a human! That goes for those cyclers, too. Remind them of this, and give them another chuckle, by unleashing your pet pooch. Plus, if your dog wins, you may be entitled to some of its prize money.
For an extra-large chortle, bring your pet cows. They’re less likely to win, though.
8. Bring your bike
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And cyclers, being human (see above), probably like to be flattered. So why not bring your own bike along and indulge in some serious flattery? Also, if you win, you may be entitled to some of the prize money (I’d recommend indulging in your flattery towards the end of the race, ideally having awarded yourself a decent head start).
Main image via Wikimedia