Didi Senft - Devil of the Tour de France
Anyone who has regularly watched television coverage of the Tour de France cycle race will no doubt have seen a man dressed as a devil, and accompanied by a huge bicycle which looks far too big to ride.
The bicycle is not only rideable, but is also one of the largest bicycles in the world, and the owner is Didi Senft - a cycle racing fan from Germany, and builder of oversize cycles.
Why the 'Devil'?
Born in 1952, Didi has long been a fan of the Tour de France. He noticed that the German television commentators would call the final kilometre of each stage 'The Red Devil's Lap':
They always called the final kilometre of a criterium [stage] the red devil's lap. I never saw a red devil, so I became one.
Since 1993, Didi has dressed in a red devil costume and followed the Tour de France around its entire course, hauling his huge bike around on a trailer. He says that he would prefer to be at the beginning of The Red Devil's Lap, 1km from the finish, but the race authorities and French police won't allow him and his bicycle that close because of the crowds, so he usually sets up at the flag which marks 20km to the finish, and often manages to get as close as 5km from the end on the mountain stages in the Pyrenees and Alps.
Didi finances his travels by means of a small number of corporate sponsors, and with money from his wife's job and donations from other Tour de France fans. He usually sleeps in his car between stages to keep expenditure to a minimum.
The World's Largest Bicycle
Didi's other passion is building enormous bicycles and other riding machines. At the time of writing he has had no fewer than ten entries in The Guinness Book of Records, including the world's largest and longest rideable bicycle - an astonishing 7.8m (25'7") long and 3.7m (12'2") high. He has also built a recumbent double-decker tandem, and a giant rickshaw 12.4m (42') long, on which the passenger sits at a dizzying height of 6.65m (21'10") above the ground.