There are two types of spectators at any race. the supporters... and the benchside barbies.
supporters as we all know are there to do one thing: support.
benchside barbies on the other hand are there to look good, attract attention and of course...support. their support however is skewed to only one person: their current squeeze, their 'superstar' triathlete... their racing boyfriends.
i've been noticing benchside barbies since my first sprint at A'famosa last year. to me they are quite an item to watch before and after the race. and they always, always, stand out from the crowd of supporters.
their tidiness and well groomed appearences have won them my self-proclaimed christianing "benchside barbie".
benchside barbies are normally first timers to any race. this is apparent in their lack of experience for dressing comfortably for the entire duration of the event. well, to be fair they are fashionable and not overly dressed...just not practically dressed.
the first set of benchside barbies i ever saw wore hot pants, slinky tops, really nice accessories, fashionable sunglasses and little kitty heels (if you're wondering, kitty heels are very delicate heels, thin stems ranging from 2 -3 inches, optional versions of straps or slip ons. think lower heel version of the ultra sexy stilettoes). they were also well groomed: nice shiny hair, perfect make-up, smells fruity when they walked pass, with porcelain skin that looked like they were tortured by the shady afternoon sun.
and they normal are...
benchside barbies find it hard to last the entire race. the heat and sun normally wither them quickly, like delicate flowers left in the car boot for the afternoon.
in all fairness again, benchside barbies are a novelty. kinda like the w.a.gs of the football world. they look glamourous and the guys that bring them are always proud to show them off. it's the location and condition of race day that does not do them justice.
plus, as a fashion freak myself, i had in the past admired benchside barbies from a far. i found the perfect opportunity to mimic one at arif's powerman 2006. i had the make of a benchside barbie: hot WHITE tennis skirt, tiny tee, cute hat, camera, sunnies, earrings and necklace, even wore light perfume! but since i was aware of race conditions, being in them for almost a year by then, i just couldn't bring myself to wear kitty heels no matter how tempting the idea was. And it was an epic self battle to not put make-up. so i would say i succeed 80% in the benchside barbie criteria.
but o, how i suffered...
i was hot (tempreture, not looks), sticky, sweating like a pig and dying of hunger. and the race hadn't even started! 20mins into race i took off my earrings because it keeps getting snagged onto my tee when i wiped my temples with my sleeves. loss 15 points there as a seasoned benchside barbie would have blotted sweat with tissue rather than her sleeves! immediately bought tissue and started salvaging my points. 15mins later the necklace came off because it snagged the tissue i used to wipe my neck and after 5 tissues, it was begining to form paper rolls along the chain loops.
then it started to rain...
now i'm wet, sticky and hungry. I looked at my watch: only 2 hours into the race and i thought to myself (no offense) "cut off is 5:30 and chances are, arif's gonna make full use of that" so i decided to feed myself. i went to the nearby KFC and ordered a zinger burger, a box of chicken popcorn, f&n strawberry to go. loss another 20 points: 1. for failing to notice that it was still drizzling outside and 2. for failing to remember that hot tarmac becomes really steamy after a rain.
that's when i decided to screw the benchside barbie business. firstly, my dress code ain't complete. i have no finese to handle sweat drippings and i'm totally unable to carry a sweet smile when i'm feeling uncomfortable.
that's when things became so much better..
i sat on the dirty curb facing transition area and took some of the best shots of arif and friends as they zoomed pass. i stained my tee in the process of balancing a chilli sachet and eating the popcorn chicken, but all was good when my hunger went away. the drizzle lasted but after the long tarmac steam rising, it was finally cool. i was wet but the cool breeze made my skin more comfortable. i sucked on ice and then rolled it onto my arms, neck and legs. very unladylike to watch but i was no longer sticky. time flew faster when you cheer for more than just one guy. i was cheering for everybody and decided to join the normal supporters over dirty fence and met some frequent cyclists friends. In the fuss to be the best benchside barbie i had missed the real fun: hanging out with my friends in crappy weather cheering for those we care about and those who look like they really could use a loooooooong beer.
and then it hit me:
benchside barbies are fair weathered supporters. after going through just half a race as a benchside barbie, i finally understand why i've not seen any familiar looking benchside barbie at races: the heat is just too uncomfortable, we're so centered at looking good and looking out for just one guy it bores you senseless and it just isn't much fun.
benchside barbies normally last one race and never come back. a few "truly in love" ones will return but they come back wiser (dress wise) and they slowly morph into a genuine supporter.
but the cycle never ends.. you will always see a fresh faced benchside barbie at every race. looking as if she is a force to be reckoned with and she knows that all eyes are, in fact, on her because she really stands out in the crowd of casually dressed supporters.
but you've got to wonder what the peopple are thinking. is it really "wow, she looks good" or "man, wait till the sun comes out!"
my bet as an 'experienced' benchside barbie watcher is "wow, she's hot but those heels and that mascara is gonna be in trouble 20mins into race..."