I’d waited to watch the Tour de France go up Alp D’Huez live in the flesh for what felt like an eternity by the time I finally got there at 30.
For many, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, for some, it’s an event not to be missed. Some prepare a little, some prepare a lot, and then there’s this guy.
The gentleman pictured above was dare I say it, my favourite thing on the Alp. I don’t know who he is, how many times he’s been to watch the tour, how old he is, who he supports, all I know is that I never fail to smile when I look at him.
And why, because he embodies everything that I love about sport fans. He’s passionate, he’s dedicated, he’s in love.
To me, his van was the best on the mountain. With the 2018 route printed across the side, the jersey coloured bunting and the picture of himself in the window. And then him with his Tour de France t-shirt and ‘89 racing cap, and a proud, happy and relaxed stance. A true cycling fan.
Being a cycling fan, much like being a fan of anything, is an incredibly rewarding and comforting experience. Being a fan means being in a relationship. And like any relationship it has its ups and downs, it’s pleasant surprises and it’s disappointments. Sometimes those disappointments will be so big you’ll think about throwing in the towel and starting a relationship with someone new, you’ll wonder why you’ve been supportive all these years whilst getting nothing in return. And then you’ll remember, it’s because you’re in love, and in the end, it’s worth it.
Because ultimately that love entertains you, holds your hand and ages with you. That love is there on the good days and the bad. It offers a distraction from the everyday hum drum. It takes you to places you never thought you’d go. It always provides something to think and talk about. It’s familiar, friendly and fun.
I have loved everything there is to love about the peloton ever since I can remember. From the riders to the fans. From the bikes to the helicopters. Cycling is my significant other, my partner, my other half, my spouse, my life, my love. It always has been and I’m pretty sure it always will be.
They say true love lasts a lifetime.
I’m inclined to agree.