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At the Races: TDF Fan Edition

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Manual for Speed believes that Road Cycling is the Greatest Spectacle on Earth.

We believe this for so many reasons, but here are four of our favorites:

  1. Unequivocal unparalleled athleticism.
  2. Cycling’s legendary, nearly-magical, quasi-mythical, vaulted & exalted history.
  3. The atmosphere. The sensory overload that is the constellation of team presentations, cobbled start plazas, start/finish discotheques, costumes, kit, the caravan, gadgeta flying through the air, the endless assault of car horns and clappers and AM/FM transistor radios and yelling and screaming and cheering and ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ-ing, the mountains, the mountain top villages! the switchbacks!!, helicopters, feed zones, Jumbotrons, beer gardens, the sea of banners and flags and pennants and homemade fanboy t-shirts and paraphernalia, painted cars, color coordinated headwear, et cetera et cetera.
  4. The people; the racers, soigneurs, DSs, mechanics, marshals, volunteers, gendarmes, TV moto operators, announcers and, most importantly, the fans who are the actors and the players in this the Greatest Spectacle on Earth.

In fact it’s for that reason, that fourth reason, that we (Manual for Speed) created a study we call At the Races. At the Races is a collection of all the people—individuals, prototypes, archetypes, etc— we’ve found, documented and cataloged at bicycle races over the last five years.

With that in mind, when Soigneur Magazine commissioned us to create a profile of four individuals that make the Tour de France the most prestigious and remarkable cycling race ever, we decided to feature four TDF Fans because:

  1. The Tour de France is the single greatest race in the world. Cycling or otherwise.
  2. It’s 23 days long.
  3. It happens in France.
  4. France is in the middle of Europe.
  5. The TDF is a European institution and icon.
  6. The TDF represents a pilgrimage for thousands if not millions of fans from AROUND THE WORLD.
  7. The French picnic better than anyone in the world, except maybe Argentines.
  8. The TDF is a remarkable feat in terms of organization, engineering and coordination.
  9. The greatest cyclists and cycling teams compete in the TDF.
  10. It’s the most prestigious race in the world. Cycling or otherwise.
  11. It’s basically an annual Olympics for bikes.
  12. Cameras mounted on motorcycles and helicopters record EVERYTHING that happens.
  13. It draws, inspires, prompts, demands, cajoles and coaxes Fans from everywhere on earth to bring their A-game.
  14. It’s basically an annual Olympics for fans of bikes. TDF fans are the best of the best, the crème de la crème.
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