Writing by Sheridan on Friday, 1 of October , 2010 at 5:42 am
After managing to secure a prime spot only metres from the start ramp, I managed to yell myself hoarse and make a fool of myself trying to shout out encouragement to men whose names are not easily pronounceable. And after standing in the same place for what felt like 7 hours I managed to catch a glimpse of the moment Fabian crossed the finish line. Just as well too, or I may have felt bad about shoving all of those people out of the way to get some half-decent photos.
Now I cannot rest until I can get Fabian to apply his autograph to something of mine. Preferably my shoe (cycling, not stiletto), since I have carried it around for days and it takes up heaps of room in my bag. SIGN MY SHOE!!!!
A couple of observations from the day:
1. An Elite male rider, after his time trial (no idea who, possibly someone Dutch), rode up onto the footpath, got off his bike, leaned it against a wall and went into a music store. If this kind of thing was done at ANY OTHER TIME in Geelong or Melbourne, you could have read about it on Ebay within the hour. But instead, people gingerly approached the bike as if it were a newborn baby. Some people took photos. Nobody touched it or so much as even breathed on it. The rider came out of the shop 10 minutes later and rode off. It’s not that big a deal for him since it’s not really his bike anyway and I’m sure there are plenty more where that one came from. But it was a big deal for the spectators, who realise you can’t even leave a Huffy unattended in the street.
2. People who have nothing to do with cycling and no knowledge of it whatsoever will still come along to the event and cheer. They’re not sure who for, but some guy’s putting in the hard yards riding up a steep hill and he looks puffed, so we should all clap. Cycling (and this event, in particular) is inclusive – anyone can watch because it’s free. So even though the AFL Grand Final is on tomorrow (again), I’m fairly sure there will be plenty of people in Geelong to watch the women ride around. After all, they do look better in the lycra.
3. Yesterday I teamed up with a girl from Sydney and a guy from Colombia to stake our claim on the railing near the start ramp. You need to forge these relationships so you have someone to watch your spot if you need to go to the bathroom or get a coffee. And in the brief time prior to the race that I wandered about, I heard all kinds of languages being spoken. People have flown from far and away to go to this event. These people are a bit hard-core, too, and they have no idea what AFL is! It’s great. And it doesn’t even really matter if you come upon a conversation in another language – if you think you hear ‘Alberto Contador’, you can still participate by shaking your head in a dismissive and disappointing manner. There were folks bearing flags from Belgium, Norway, Ireland, Great Britain…even a Swiss flag. I tried to find one so I could climb on the Cancellara bandwagon but sadly we only have Australian flags for sale in Australian ‘Mainly $2′ stores. At one stage I considered scratching a cross into my arm (or forehead) but the colours would have been all wrong and realistically, I don’t think I am at that level of committment yet. No shoe has been signed, so…
4. Being relatively new to the idea of professional cycling, I pondered yesterday the vast cultural divide these riders must come across when moving between Europe and Australia. From the excellent SBS coverage of the Tour this year, I noted that most of the time there were no barriers in place in the small towns or rural areas. Yet here we are in Geelong, which evidently is a city, but which has parts of the course that may be considered ‘outback-like’. Obviously we lack in cycling savvy and have to be restrained. The cyclists must love that no stray pedestrians or dogs can get on the course. And it goes both ways, because I believe some athletes got a bit of a grilling for going through red lights, which some motorists don’t appreciate.
5. I look forward to seeing Cadel ride about for a bit in a couple of days. I also look forward to being approached about someone signing a shoe for me.
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