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Manual For Speed At The Races, TdF edition #3

Manual For Speed Tekst Manual For Speed Gepubliceerd 20 July 2017

Manual For Speed believes that Road Cycling is the Greatest Spectacle on Earth. We believe this for so many reasons but here are four of our favorite.

  • Unequivocal unparalleled athleticism.
  • Cycling’s legendary, nearly magical, quasi mythical, vaulted and exalted, history.
  • The atmosphere. The sensory overload that is the constellation of team presentations, cobbled start plazas, start/finish discotheques, costumes, kit, the caravan, gadgeta flying through the air, the endless assault of car horns and clappers and AM/FM transistor radios and yelling and screaming and cheering and ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ-ing, the mountains, the mountain top villages! the switchbacks!!, helicopters, feed zones, Jumbotrons, beer gardens, the sea of banners and flags and pennants and homemade fanboy t-shirts and paraphernalia, painted cars, color coordinated headwear, et cetera et cetera.
  • The people; the racers, soigneurs, DSs, mechanics, marshalls, volunteers, gendarmes, TV moto operators, announcers and most importantly the fans who are the actors and the players in this the Greatest Spectacle on Earth.

In fact it’s for that reason, that fourth reason, that we (Manual For Speed) created a study we call At The Races. At The Races is a collection of all the people—individuals, prototypes, archetypes, etc— we’ve found, documented and cataloged at bicycle races over the last five years.

With that in mind, when Soigneur Magazine commissioned us to create a profile of four individuals that make the Tour De France the most prestigious and remarkable cycling race ever, we decided to feature four TDF Fans because;

1. The Tour De France is the single greatest race in the world. Cycling or otherwise.
2. It’s 23 days long.
3. It happens in France.
4. France is in the middle of Europe.
5. The TDF is a European institution and icon.
6. The TDF represents a pilgrimage for thousands if not millions of fans from AROUND THE WORLD.
7. The French picnic better than anyone in the world, except maybe Argentines.
8. The TDF is a remarkable feat in terms organizational, engineering and coordination.
9. The greatest cyclists and cycling teams compete in the TDF.
10. It’s the most prestigious race in the world. Cycling or otherwise.
11. It’s basically an annual olympics for bikes.
12. Cameras mounted on motorcycles and helicopters record EVERYTHING that happens.
13. It draws, inspires, prompts, demands, cajoles and coaxes Fans from everywhere on earth to bring their A-game.
14. It’s basically an annual olympics for fans of bikes. TDF fans are the best of the best, the creme dela creme.


Nationality: International (In this example our pair is flying the yellow, blue, and red of Colombia)
Costuming: It’s all about coordination. Here is a short but by no means complete list of items that can be utilized to build out a coordination presentation: (starting from the top) – Caps, Hats, Scarfs, Bandanas, Sunglasses, necklaces, shirts, jackets, vests, ponchos, backpacks, fanny packs (bum bags), purses, totes, shorts, briefs, pants, capri’s, socks, sandals, shoes, boots, additional accessories can include vuvuzelas, whistles, hand painted signs, masks, and stuffed animals.
Special Powers: Synchronicity adds volume and amplitude to the impact they make as fans. Their presence can cause disorientation in some riders who can become confused and overwhelmed by a sense of deja vu. A developed sense of co-dependency drives an exhibition of solidarity in public display, this in turn elevates the confidence of the crowd and fans with whom they interact.
Natural Habitat: Parades, street fairs, ski slopes, malls, brunch spots, walking streets, tourist attractions, in front of hotels, near frozen yogurt joints, around the small round tables outside of coffee shops.

It is a point of biological fact that unity, matching, coordination, and mimicry are powerful and effective tools in the global struggle that is evolution. Consider animals, for example the black labrador, they all–ALL–dress the same. Every black labrador you’ve ever seen is wearing the same costume, a black fur coat, it’s black coat is so much a part of its identity that if it wears anything else then it’s called something else like a golden lab, brown lab, dalmation, or pug.

This is not unique to dogs consider tigers, squirrels, blue whales, carpenter ants, slugs, manatees, skunks, etc the list goes on and on. And the reason that the list goes on and on is that nature has found out that if you match, if you coordinate, then you survive and if you survive then you can make an impact on your environment. And if you make an impact on your environment then you get attention and attention means that the camera operator who is hunkered down in the helicopter that is flying low over the Alps looking for b-roll to add to today’s TDF coverage will be drawn to you, to your coordination, and that you will then be featured in TV screens throughout the world, you’re friends and family back home will see you, cycling fans will envy you, and other photographers/videographers/journalists will be drawn to you. And this attention snowball is, if you stopped to think about, the entire reason you decided to coordinate in the first place, you may not be racing but you have in effect won. Congratulations.

. . . nature has found out that if you match, if you coordinate, then you survive and if you survive then you can make an impact on your environment.

If the effectiveness of coordination is so obvious why doesn’t everyone do it? Well coordination as a attention device in the human social theater isn’t as straightforward as it is in the rest of the animal kingdom. Human actors need to consider various factors before deciding to coordinate. Most important of which is the ratio of coordinated to un-coordinated.

Image: Chris Auld

If given a certain situation a pair shows up coordinated and the rest of the group is uncoordinated the pair risks scorn of the group. If on the other hand the pair shows up coordinated at a situation that is completely packed with coordinated pairs then the effect of the coordination is nullified. Zergev and Thomas*, in their landmark study on Pair Coordination in hyper-socio environments note that, “When given an option to coordinate, pairs must consider X = the number of other individuals in the HSE, Y= the estimated number of coordinated pairs in the HSE. If Y/X is < or = .15 then Coordination Pairs can assume a positive response from their coordination. If Y/X is between .15 and .2 then there is only a 50% chance of a positive response and anything higher than .2 will elicit a negative response.”

This is a safe space for coordinated pairs, a space where they can shine, a space where they can WOW.

So you see there is a bit of risk involved when deciding to coordinate. However in mass spectacle events such as the TDF the number of factors renders Zergev and Thomas’ observation null and void. This is a safe space for coordinated pairs, a space where they can shine, a space where they can WOW. As such the TDF is rife for observing and identifying coordinated pairs. And this is yet another reason why this race is considered the greatest sporting spectacle in the world.

*Angela Zergev Phd. and Vance Thomas Phd., “Humans, Coordination, and Winning Society” – Atlantic Peacock Press 2007.

Read on: Manual For Speed At The Races, TDF Edition #2