Editor's note: Jim Caple is spending two weeks on Page 2's dime traveling through Europe for a firsthand look at, to name a few, Wimbledon, the running of the bulls in Pamplona and how far he can carry his wife.
WIMBLEDON, England The sun might have set on the British Empire, but I'll give the English this much: They know how to form a line. (Or as they say on this side of the pond, a queue.)
In fact, within minutes of when we arrive outside Wimbledon's gates to camp, a tournament steward hands us a 26-page manual titled, "A Guide to Queueing for the Championships." Judging by its sheer length, this manual must have been written by Churchill as a warm-up for his six-volume series on World War II. It's so comprehensive that it details what fans may bring inside the grounds (one bottle of wine or two beers), how we are to cheer (do not applaud double-faults) and how we are to behave whilst standing in line.
"The All England Club, in accordance with statutory authority, reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone adopting unreasonable social behavior or who causes obstruction, danger or annoyance, e.g. by the lighting of fires on the highway."
Damn. There goes that plan.
The manual lists so many other rules, restrictions and suggestions that even the Marine Corps would consider it excessive. But it isn't a bad idea, either. With certain revisions, it could come in quite handy in America, particularly at Fenway Park.
• Do not throw beer, batteries or darts at Gary Sheffield.
• Do not applaud when New York batters are beaned in the head, nor when 74-year-old New York coaches are thrown to the ground and taken to the hospital.
• Do not light Yankees fans on fire. At least not unless provoked.
We put aside the manual, tossed our backpack onto the sidewalk and spread a blanket among the surrounding tents. I pop open a bottle of Stella Artois and toast the half-moon rising above the trees. It's a perfect night for my tour to begin.
The past three summers, I drove around America for ESPN.com, writing about sports along Interstate 90, the Mississippi River and the Lewis and Clark trail. This summer, however, I am in Europe. American college students backpack across Europe every summer hoping to find themselves (or, at least, students of the opposite sex), but I wish only to lose myself in sports. Others travel to Europe seeking the Louvre or Notre Dame, but I seek other, more important historic sites, such as Centre Court. Let others worry about Eurail passes; I know the best way to see Europe is from the seat of a bicycle in the middle of a sweaty peloton.
During the next two weeks, I will eat strawberries and cream at Wimbledon while (ahem) applauding Maria Sharapova. I will honor my marriage by competing in the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland. I will raise a baguette to salute Lance Armstrong in his final Tour de France, then ride a stage of the course myself. I will drink champagne with Parisians at the Eiffel Tower, should their city win the bid for the 2012 Olympics. I will expose my backside to angry, 2-ton beasts with razor-sharp horns racing through cobblestoned streets during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.