063: Belgium (and France) — Part Two: Paris Roubaix
April 23 2009
The Final Installation.
I had to scramble for this spot as Tornado Tom headed into the Roubaix Velodrome. My press pass had run out in the sense that I wasn't going to be allowed on the infield without a photo-bib which I didn't have. I tried slipping past the security guards and into the infield but was met by about 30 other guards who decided that my lack of bib meant I had done just that and was turned around as I reached the grass.
I ran past others who were trying to do the same and did a little technical climbing to get on top of a pillar next to the road. For some reason there was only one other guy with me on my perch. And for a moment I stood pondering why no one else would want this vantage point.
The answer came to me as I was looking down on the people at my feet. They didn't care one bit about a birds eye view of Tom Boonen coming in to hit the final straits of the track. They wanted to be as close as humanly possible to this man. And that didn't mean standing up and far away from him. That meant pressing all their humanly goods against the fences in anticipation of his arrival.
Who knows what will be of Boonen in the years to come? Only good I can hope. All I know is for these few tense moments before his approach, he was a God among men.
There was a whisper of excitement as he approached. The thunderous applause that was building around the corner and down the block was now approaching the Velodrome. And then the place erupted.
In more ways than one.
I stood near the entrance to the showers (again, Bib needed) so I got to see the majority of the riders as they exited the track and headed for the soap.
NOTE: The screen actually gets smaller because the small battery on my camera had died and the backup one too...dead. I resorted to using the video function on my little Panasonic Point and Shoot.
NOTE2: When the camera turns to follow Florent Brard into the building, pay attention to the photographer that stands up, the one doing the jesus impersonation. That's fabled photographer Camille J McMillan shooting photos for Rouleur. Can't wait to see what he got.
It is hard to imagine that two days prior I had ridden on this very same velodrome that was now packed with people. This is the finish line. Seems fitting I guess.