Paris-Roubaix is looming on the horizon. Every day we get a few hours closer to that Monument that makes people pick up their bikes and ride till the tears stream from their eyes. In a few short days we will find out who will be that first person into the Velodrome. Tears be damned. The Supporters bus, while not so much of an event over here in the States tends to be quite an event in the European cycling regions. Below you will find just one account of such bus as told through the eyes of two of my compatriots from last years Paris-Roubaix action.
But just because they do not happen as much over here does not mean that they should not happen. You see, what is now being called The Tour of the Battenkill had previously gone by the moniker Battenkill-Roubaix, and with good reason. So, this year, to combat that lack of busloads of supporters on the Pro Circuit we have put together our own supporters bus to get fans in on the action. The Battenkill Luxury Charter leaves from New York City to traverse the State and support the Rapha Condor Sharp Team to victory at Battenkill.
Loading up on a bus is just that.
Words Jen Park
Photos Peter Bradshaw
Even though we are in Belgium amidst some of the best cycling races in the world, it still on a bus full of musky strangers. A few of us are high on the expected win of Tom Boonen, famous heart-throb, Belgium’s sweetheart. Some of us are quietly watching the scenery as we pass through two countries and a border to end in France. Some of us are hung over and nauseous from no sleep, too many cigarettes, and excessive amounts of Chimay. There are a dozen or so Americans curiously hiding among the enthusiastic smiling faces of Boonen’s fans. It is Easter weekend and someone has made colored Easter eggs to pass out to fellow fans. The first crack and scent of hard-boiled eggs and we are off. Doors close and we are saying goodbye to the Belgium that we have known for the past 24 hours.
As I look around, mostly I notice the euphoria, the camaraderie that has formed amongst total strangers around a national hero, a 28 year old man who rides his bike for a living. I think to myself, “This is just like people cheering for the New England Patriots and and their star Quarterback Tom Brady,” and while the two are almost the same, what I realize is that amongst total strangers in a foreign country, I feel that I have something in common with these people as we cheer for a man on 2 wheels, riding his heart out over miles of cobblestones. And I realize that for this moment, I want to be nowhere else than right here on this bus headed to Roubaix.