(My friend Peter Swan (Swanee) seems to travel quite a bit. When he does, he doesn't always bring his bike. But he's never without cycling. Once in a while he sends GamJams some pictures and a story from his travels. We're going to publish them here, because sometimes local cycling is found 5000 miles away.)
(For many more pictures, see the accompanying photo gallery on the GamJams Facebook page.)
After hanging out on the Amalfi Coast for a week, site of this year’s Giro Stage 19, we ate and drank – la dolce vita - our way through Italy to the 2009 World Cycling Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. We’ve had the pleasure of attending a few of these championships when we lived in Germany years ago, and it’s always an experience that’s hard to describe. Sort of like of like a combination of the Superbowl and a NASCAR event.
Watching the action on TV is great, but you’ve really got to be there to feel the vibe and enjoy the thousands of rabid fans who circle the course, often in ridiculous costumes, cheering on their favorites. These are true fans, who really know all the rider stats, are super enthusiastic (and often well lubricated with beer and wine) and come in large numbers, particularly from Norway, Holland, Italy and, of course, Belgium.
Many of the fans are old hands at this. Fifteen minutes between laps, no problem dude, how about a friendly game of bocce with your buddies. Need a place to hangout in style? Set up your RV on the course days in advance, on space rented from enterprising farmers who supplied water and power hookups. The RV folks, and there were many, took in the race on their satellite TVs, while eating their lunch on linen covered tables -- and only rushed out to cheer on their favorites at the appropriate moment.
We spoke to one well traveled British couple at their RV encampment and they told us that they regularly attend the Tour, Giro and Worlds. Noting we were Americans, Sir Rusty went into his RV and emerged with a book on the 2003 Tour and said, “You’ll like this.” Quickly thumbing to a page showing a picture of one turn on the Alpe d’Huez climb, he pointed to his van and chuckled, “That’s my KICK ASS LANCE sign and I also painted the big American flag on the street!!” As we walked the course, similar displays could be seen for all the favorites.