Ian and I have volunteered to marshall for a day when the Tour de France comes to London. This means attending a briefing session next week when I guess we will find out what our job entails. I suspect it will mean standing around all day in some God-forsaken part of town trying to stop angry motorists from driving down a closed street or trying to persuade pedestrians not to cross the road in front of the peleton! Whatever it is I know it will not be glamorous and the best that will happen is that we will get a glimpse of the peleton as it speeds by! In France I think they treat the race with a bit more respect and the role of marshall is handed down from generation to generation! Mind you, in France they even have a church dedicated to the riders of 'Le Tour' called Notre-Dame-des-Cyclistes. It's about midway between Bordeaux and Lourdes and I visited it about 13 years ago when I did a bike ride from Bordeaux to Barcelona. It's a small country church with iron gates with bicycles in them. Inside, amongst other cycling related things, are the worn jerseys of most of the Tour de France Cyclists. Many of the peleton are quite religious. You often see them kissing the crosses they wear around their necks as they win a stage. Apparently many stop into the church if the race is passing by and say a prayer. I have just read up a little on the church to jog my memories and found details of the inscription at the feet of Notre-Dame:
Mary, Queen of the world, we humbly ask you to bless and protect the cyclists of the world and help them to finish happily the main and final stage, which leads to heaven.
You have to understand the Tour de France to understand the true meaning of this! (And to have cycled up a good few hills in your time!)
For more details http://home-1.tiscali.nl/~edwinsel/misc_religie.htm