Several years ago while attending Amgen Tour of California I made the declaration, “I will never again travel to see a bike race.” Don’t get me wrong, I love bike racing. I love every year when its time for the spring classics. It signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Time to get serious on training, get out and ride. The classics are beautiful and fun to watch. Later in the year when its time for Le Tour, well, it means weeks of entertaining and enjoyable watching. Of course, it’s not like watching a soccer or football game. You can leave the room and come back and not have missed anything. You can take a nap, or run to the store, or like me, you can do paper work, computer work or other task/hobbies around the house. In the States we get to listen to the comforting voices of Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett. They are like two old friends, watching the race with you, guiding you along the journey.
Going to watch a race live can be a different story. First you have to fly or drive to the race location. Then you have to drive to your chosen viewing point. Of course they close the roads, sometimes hours before hand, so you have to arrive early to get a spot. Then you wait by the side of the road for the race, and you wait and wait. When it comes, its exciting, police cars, lead cars, race officials, then the breakaway (if there is one) then the peloton. The only problem is, its over in two minutes. Now your in the middle of nowhere standing on the side of the road. Sure you can drive to the finish town and maybe catch the arrival or at least visit all the vendors and see the team busses etc… But, there is a whole lot of getting there, for very little sport viewing. No one would go to the trouble of attending a football game if it only lasted two minutes.
And so, if you have never been to a bike race, consider yourself lucky. Turn on the TV, sit back and enjoy your favorite sport from the comfort of your couch. It’s the only way to watch it.