After a brief hiatus due to eating too much goose and drinking too much winter ale, the Firdya Velovid makes a return to Madegood.org today with a fun video celebrating the amateur cyclist, and the fevered passion of cycling fans.
There are pranksters, and then there is Remi Gaillard. The Frenchman is famed for his elaborate stunts (for example driving go karts around the streets of Paris dressed as Super Mario and dropping banana skins behind him a la MarioKart) and for showcasing his football skills. He is an arch practical joker, and this week’s Velovid features one of his best set-ups.
I’m sure you will be familiar with the sight of a lone amateur cyclist out on the road, usually on a Sunday morning and dressed in kit. I’ve been that cyclist myself. Factor in a mountain, and the plight of the lonely cyclist grinding up the road in the granny gear is made all the more evocative. This video tries to share a little love with some of these troopers, and Remi Gaillard is the conductor.
We are shown a grey haired chap gradually taking on the switchbacks on the ascent of Saint Loup on a sweltering day, with no other signs of life anywhere around him. Suddenly Remi Gaillard appears standing up through a car sunroof acting as the race referee just like in a bike race. Cameramen on motorbikes zoom past and as the cyclist turns one last bend Remi Gaillard gets his megaphone out to bellow “ALLEZ RICHARD!”
Up ahead there is a throng of cycling fans dressed in costume, waving flags and honking airhorns. They bring ‘Richard’ to a halt and a young lovely gives him a kiss and a trophy. The cyclist is obviously baffled, but he doesn’t say anything.
The next two riders (both dubbed Richard, possibly in a nod to Richard Virenque) are great. The first is greeted with similarly manic joy by the crowds and when Remi Gaillard interviews him in the middle of the throng he says ‘I am not a part of your race.’ Priceless! So unassuming. The final rider obviously finds it a right laugh. He doesn’t care if this is at all unusual, as he goes into pro mode by describing his ride to the man with the mic and claiming that it was a hard climb. He seems genuinely touched by the whole thing (I would probably do a similar thing myself!)
This is a classic stunt, and the number of people involved and the enthusiasm they put into it that makes it work so well. They are just like the crazy fans who run alongside riders in mountain stages of the Tour de France, and the attention to detail – Basque flags are a real common sight at bike races – is fantastic. What I like most about it is the charming reactions from the riders and the fact that these average Joes for once get this level attention and praise. It is their chance to soak up the adulation, and why not?
By Duncan Palmer – @cyclodunc