My husband Hans and I have been Tour de France fans for almost thirty years. In 1992, we caught Miguel Indurain, riding for Banesto, win the Tour in Paris. A classic Tour athlete, Indurain holds the record for the most consecutive (five) Tour de France wins.
Check out his photo gallery here: http://www.sportphotogallery.c...ing/miguel-indurain/
Our favorite American rider in the 1992 race was Andy Hampsten, who came in fourth. We cheered hard as he swooshed past on L'Avenue des Champs-ÉlysÉes. I’ve just discovered that Hampsten is now leading cycling tours to Italy, so check them out: http://cinghiale.com/
Since 1992, Hans and I have followed the Tour in the newspaper or on TV no matter where we were. This year we happened to be in the right place at the right time——London on July 7th.
If you've ever watched the Tour up close, you know that it's all about a long wait and a flash of passing color and carbon. Loads of cheering and fist bumps——and sometimes crazy, even downright stupid fan behavior that knocks a rider off his bike. But, I don't know...it's worth the wait, like of hit of joy juice without side effects.
This year our London host led us on foot from his Stoke Newington apartment along the River Lea to find a spot on the Tour route near the Olympic Stadium.
The roads were closed, so walking or biking were the best options. We gathered a team of fans as we hiked——one hopped off his canal boat to join us——and staked out our shouting position next to a group from Slovakia who had draped the barriers with their national flag and team banners.
We waited ninety minutes and snapped pictures every time a team car rounded the curve.
Finally, the Tour helicopters whirred above, and the riders closed in. I stepped onto the barrier and readied my iPhone. My husband held me up, so my hands were free. A dozen photo clicks later, and that was it.
The Slovaks were rewarded for their fervor when their compatriot——Jan Barta——whizzed by out front (the Peloton caught him before the race end). My friends recognized the "big" riders in the Peloton. Me? Let’s say, you either watch the race or photograph it.
Our fan adventure ended in the Princess of Wales pub where the tables were full. All eyes were on the three pub televisions. Our great idea of watching the race finish with a glass of hard cider in hand wasn't original. But we made new friends before the race was done.
(All photographs are property of the author.)