Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tour de France / Death Race 2000

Idiotic spectators impeding the riders have always been a problem at the Tour de France. The attitude of these idiots generally seems to be: Look at me! Look at me! when naturally nobody is there to look at them, it's about the riders. In case this Look at me! - attitude might have been hard to perceive, many of these idiots make it more obvious by waving enormous flags in the riders' faces and/or by dressing up in grotesque costumes.

And of course by standing or running in the middle of the course during a bicycle race, which is what brought me here today. I'm not the first to suggest that these jokers should be kept from the race course. These days the final 2 kilometers or so of each stage tend to feature barricades on both sides of the course -- but the idiots lean way over the barricades into the paths of the riders, and still wave those huge flags in the riders' faces, and sometimes go over or around the barricades and into the race course. You really need 2 rows of barricades, far enough apart that it's impossible to reach the mightiest giant flag over the outer barricade, and then over the inner barricade, and into the face of someone working very hard at something he has trained very hard his whole life to do, and is doing it for great stakes and, sorry, you idiot, doesn't want to look at you or your flag or your costume right now.

Having stay-off-the-course-you-idiots laws, and enforcing them strictly, might improve race conditions, but they would also cause a huge uproar. Idiots would rise up in indignant solidarity. French idiots would claim that the standing-or-running-in-the-middle-of-the-course-thing is a French thing which I do not understand because I'm a crude fat American pig who only loves cheeseburgers, and that it has to do with freedom and the Bastille and that the riders love it.

[PS, 3. August 2015: During this year's Tour de France, although it still activated my ADD and rage big-time when it looked to me like spectators might be interfering with the riders, 1)I heard the TV broadcasting comments from various riders saying that the fans getting right up in their faces, and riding through a sea of fans, got them pumped up, and 2)I saw some footage from cameras mounted on the race bikes as the riders plowed through great excited crowds, and, uhhh... This is hard to say... Okay: maybe that footage gave me a sense of how the fans might impart a thrill to the riders. What I saw from those bike-mounted cameras did not look like 100% annoyance and hindrance. Ahh, why must I have such personal growth?!]

[PPS, 15. July 2016: Yesterday they ended the stage by climbing that mountain which always ends the stage on Bastille Day, the climb which is more notorious than any other for fans crowding the riders, and yesterday they shortened the climb at the last minute, which meant there was even less room for the millions of fans on the route, and surprise surprise, there was a major incident: a motorcycle carrying a TV cameraman had to brake suddenly to avoid running over some idiots, and the Yellow Jersey wearer Froome was one of 3 riders who piled into back of the motorcycle. Froom's bicycle was also struck by another motorcycle coming up from behind, and rendered unrideable. If the results had been left as they were, Froome would've lost the yellow jersey, but the race officials decided the 3 riders involved in the crash were in no way at fault and that it would be unfair for them to lose time as a result of it, so they adjusted the stage results accordingly, and Froome still has a big lead. Researching the incident, I saw that Froome struck a spectator on the Tour in 2013. Without getting off of his bike or changing course, to give you an idea of how close the spectator was. Froome was fined for that. Not a huge fine. There were lots of interviews of riders and associated team members yesterday about the crash involving Froome, and it was clear that a lot of them are very annoyed with the spectators. This was clear, even though a lot of people were clearly editing their remarks and paying lip service to an official line of "the fans add excitement to the race and are an essential and glorious part of it." So it's NOT just me who's annoyed by these jerks!]

I'm sure that most French people are not idiots and are embarrassed by the idiots impeding the Tour de France riders, and doubly so by the French idiots who impede riders and claim it is a French thing. And of course it is by no means a French thing: idiots flock to the Tour de France from all over the world in order to get in the way and force people to look at them. (Maybe idiots, generally speaking, feel neglected and ignored. Hm.)

And this year, I gather, a bad situation has become worse because of fans leaping into the course in order to take selfies with the riders.

I don't think that selfies are entirely useless. I believe that, just like leisure suits beginning in the 1970's and mullets in the 80's, selfies will aid future historians in determining who the real idiots of our era were.

But in the meantime riders have been colliding with fans in the Tour de France since its inception, and the collisions have grown in numbers over the decades, and now there's these Tour de France selfies, and so, with apologies to those future historians, I propose that the Tour de France be combined with aspects of Death Race 2000,

a 1975 Roger Croman movie starring David Carradine and Mary Woronov, about a cross-country auto race in which the drivers are awarded points for hitting pedestrians. Not to be confused with 2008's Death Race

with Jason Statham and Joan Allen, not a bad movie, but significantly different than the original in that its race is held inside a prison, and the deaths are those of the racers as they destroy each other for the delight of a sadistic pay-per-view audience and the profit of Allen, the yummy, evil warden. I'm inspired here by the pedestrian kills of the 1975 flick. In this improved version of the Tour de France, riders would be awarded points for colliding with fans. These points would amount to time being subtracted from their Tour totals, bringing them closer to victory. So and so many points would be awarded for striking a fan, so many for seriously injuring a fan, so many for killing one outright, so many for striking a fan waving an enormous fan, so many for one in costume, so many for one attempting to take a selfie and so forth, you get the idea.

I submit that these rule changes would greatly alter the nature of the Tour. It's also possible -- very unlikely, of course, but possible -- that they would cause some idiots somewhere to stop and think about who they are and what they do. And wouldn't that be a miracle.

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