Monday, 20 April 2009

Pilgrims & Prespectives: A Day at the Races

We've frequented this corner for a few years now. It's at the top of the first sector, the riders barrel down a slight slope, cross the road (a split second respite) and climb the gentle slope. I have a feeling this is where De Vlaeminck put the hammer down in 'Sunday in Hell' but don't quote me as my memory is hazy and the priority of buying the DVD over a new pair of shorts is a non starter. I digress. At the top of the rise they turn left, add a couple of hundred yards later and they've passed the first test of 28.

As it's been our regular starting point, you get to see the same faces. Not the hordes of crazed, rider name clad supporters. No, these regulars are the local village inhabitants, people who once a year wander from their houses into the centre of the adjoining field and witness an event we consider one of the greatest bicycle races.
It makes me wonder what they're thinking, what's their perspective?

Take the couple in the foreground to the left of the picture. A robust woman in a heavily brocaded dress and the man with the sleeveless t-shirt. Her handmade dress has (probably incorrectly) a gypsy feel and the gives the impression she put on her Sunday best in order to walk to the corner. He's freshly shaven with hair slicked back with pomade, yet in contrast he's wearing his house slippers.

"I'm walking to the corner, it's no big deal, no need to put shoes on".

I've even seen an old timer with what looked like his pajamas on, although he did have his jacket on over the top. It is Sunday after all.

The race passes and they head for home.

I wonder if they rush to their TV sets to watch the race unfold.

Do they shrug their shoulders, comment that the riders look younger every year and return home to take a glass of wine, caring little who wins.

Or do they go home and argue about De Vlaeminck being able to beat them all?