Julian Dean Diary
2008 Tour de France - Rest day: The best fans...
The last two days have seen us ride up and down the first major climbs of the Tour in the Pyrenees; Col de Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Peyresourde Pass, to name a few. All difficult climbs where for us sprinters suffering is an understatement, but where you really see the Tour de France come alive. The mountains are where all the afficionados come out in force.
For me, the climbs in the Pyrenees are harder than the Alps but they are often the part of the Tour de France that I enjoy the most. It's where you get the most enthusiastic and 'into it' fans. Namely the crazy Spaniards that make the trip across the border for the day. The Tour de France always has an insane amount of people on the sides of the roads but when we get to any of the monumental climbs, there are always people 2 or 3 deep all the way up. Many have been camping up there for days and having one continuous party. The kind of party I could see myself partaking in...
The distinctive Spanish fans are easy to pick out. The easiest ones to spot are the Basques with their unique green, red and white flag and orange t-shirts. Cycling is big in this region of Spain and they go absolutely bananas, especially if you are riding up there with a rider from the Basque country. Often they like to dress up and on yesterday's stage I saw a fella dressed up as a penis, another as a cow with a nice pink udder and some blokes dressed up as sheilas. Plus a heap of others doing crazy shit. All there having a good time and fizzing just as much when I come along an eternity after the first riders have past through. It's pretty humbling when they are just as into it for me who's just a bunch filler.
One of the good things about not being a climber is that up the climbs, hurtbag permitting, I get to enjoy all of this and try and interact with the fans a little which is always fun. I always look out for the best dressed and the most 'off guts'. In fact, up the next climb if my state of being allows me (not suffering too much, that is), I might appoint myself as a judge and choose a best dressed. Although we are moving across to the Alps now, I'm sure there'll be a few nutters about, even if they're not as abundant as they have been here in the Pyrenees.
Right, I can't sign off without mentioning the Kiwi fans. You guys are awesome and I love coming across you as I grovel my way up the climbs. It certainly gives me a lift to see you and while you're not as mad as some fans, your enthusiasm is equal and makes me proud to be a Kiwi. All the other riders here are in awe by the presence of so many Kiwi fans for such a small country, so far away. So keep it coming. Thanks everyone - to those of you cheering me on here from the roadsides; those of you lucky enough to be in the Northern Hemisphere watching the Tour on the T.V; those of you doing the graveyard shifts in front of the tele in the wintry Southern Hemisphere; and those of you out there posting messages on my notepad. Whereever it comes from I really appreciate your support.
Team Garmin-Chipotle presented by H3O
Click here to check out Julian Dean’s Web site.
Click here to send Julian your comments. He needs them and deserves them and they'll help him reach Paris again this year!