I watched a GoPro video of Paris-Roubaix highlights today. It was probably the same one that GoProBro worked on (yikes!). Anyway, it was really really really good. I hate myself for saying that. I’m not sure why, maybe because GoPros are like the rollerblading of photography and the wakeboarding of videography all at once. Which is crazy because videography is already the kitesurfing of photography. Which, really, if I’m being honest, what’s even more insane to think about is, photography is the mountain boarding of writing.
Anyway, I liked how well it was edited, and I liked how seamlessly and effortlessly, and convincingly, it immerses the viewer inside the race. Speaking of being in the race, Manual for Speed is never in the race. We’re at the race. That’s our POV, that’s always been our POV, it’s a good POV, we like it, this POV of ours. The curious thing about it—and maybe this is irony, maybe not, though it’s certainly counterintuitive at first glance, that’s for sure—is that we never know what’s happening in the race, despite being at the race. In countries where the race is covered live on the radio, and with a Raoul in the car to translate, you can follow along that way. Or on your phone, though that’s usually cost-prohibitive and even if it wasn’t, it requires a signal. So yeah, for hours and hours we know nothing. I mean, you get a sense of it when the race comes past, but that’s all you get, a sense. And we talk to people, other photographers, soigneurs, fans with transmitter radios, randos, whatever, it’s no big deal.
The best way to SEE the race for the race’s sake is at home. That is undeniable. Everybody agrees with this statement. If you want to see it unfold, if you want to see the various decisive moments, the crashes, the moves, if you want to see just how far out the break is (and watch it get reeled-in just in time, every time, except when it doesn’t, which is like a glitch in the Matrix), stay at home, watch on a TV. It’s better. To be at a race is to be in a bubble of time. In the morning, on the way to the start, invariably, we talk about how many times we’re going to see the race. The start, the finish, plus how many times?, at least one, never more than six or seven. And that’s fine, that’s our POV.
Apparently Paris-Roubaix was amazing but I didn’t know that until I got home that night. I mean, it wasA STUNNING AND HEROIC FEAT FOR HOURS ON END that day. And I was there, I could see it, I saw it.
The spectacle, the knife fight, the high-speed death march, it was all right there at my feet, like, RIGHT AT MY FEET, I just didn’t know (in real time) if it was technically and textbook-ly a remarkable bike race. Amstel Gold, I’m told, was boring and lite-disappointing; but again, I didn’t see that, I saw an incredible high-speed spectacle.”- MFSLike anything else it just comes down to perspective and point of view. Here is a short list of things that happened at Amstel Gold that were NOT televised. Things for which there is no GoPro Footy. I hope.
- I saw Nathan Haas on the start line, he told me he’s being sent to the Tour of Croatia, to get hardened or some such thing.
- I introduced Astrid to Jordan, Kiel’s wife, and subsequently an arrangement was made whereby Alex’s girlfriend and Kiel’s Dutch cousin and Jordan could all ride with Astrid to the Valkenberg.
- I argued with a race official-type person about whether or not it was safe to stand behind a very metal, very permanent, very giant pole and take photographs of the race when it came past. He was worried I would be hit by a team car. We argued about whether or not that was a valid and/or reasonable concern, eventually he gave up because I was init 2 winit, plus I was bored so I had nothing else to do but argue with him.
- We passed some caves. Martin, Raoul’s dad!, told us about a network of mountain bike trails in those caves. Apparently they go into a hill on one side and come out several miles later on the other side. I’m not sure I got that right, but that’s what I think he said.
- Change kept falling out of my pocket and into the crevice between the center console and my seat. It happened so many times. Big stuff too, the one and two Euro jammers. And each time it would make this thwack sound, it’s the same sound that the coin-operated coffee machines in the gas station make when you put change in them. By the end of the day I half-expected Martin, Raoul’s dad!’s car to dispense me a latte.
- I thought about the expression “puppy.” As in, “This puppy is ready to go.” Or, “Let’s see what this puppy can do.” WTF is up with that? Why puppies? It just doesn’t make ANY SENSE.
- I thought about, and experienced in a manner of speaking, how Amstel Gold is an Ardennes Classic that doesn’t take place in the Ardennes. It takes place in the bottom of the Netherlands where the country is only thirty kilometers wide, bordered to the east by Germany and to the west by the French-speaking part of Belgium.
- I got rained on.