Col du Doctor’s Surgery


I wasn’t going to go and see the Tour of Britain this year. We have done in the past but I was a bit busy yesterday and I’d failed to book myself one of the free bus places to the finish. And besides, the weather was forecast to be dire and when the day dawned (and I’m doing it a bit of a courtesy there) just as dire as forecast, I decided I could not be bothered to pedal into Bigtown just to see a sprint point.

And then it started to cheer up a bit, and a bit of random googling revealed that not only was the race going to pass just five miles away from us, but that they would be climbing up to Doctor’s Village – and that it would count as a Category Three* climb. And besides, how often do you get an international bike race – complete with Sir Wiggo himself – passing within cycling distance of your door?** So off I went in bright sunshine and what turned out to be a howling cross wind that made the climb even more interesting as it snatched the glasses off my face at one point and meant I had to ride the steepest bit in third gear because my gear changing hand was busy holding my glasses on. Enjoying a few ironic cheers as I passed the people waiting for the race to come through, I rode to what I hoped was a good spot and settled down to wait for the race itself.

Now as I’ve found before, watching bicycle races is a lot of hanging around, followed by about two seconds of excitement, so this time I thought I’d at least get some photos so I had borrowed the other half’s camera. I filled in some of the time trying to work out how it worked, and the rest of the time attempting to shelter it and me from the squally icy showers that passed through until at last the motorbikes arrived, followed by the car that tells you what’s going on, followed by more motorbikes, followed by some officials’ vehicles, followed by a builder’s van that had somehow got caught up in it all, followed by some more motorbikes, and some more motorbikes, and the referee’s car, and the neutral service vehicle, and some more motorbikes and then a very tiny man in lycra surrounded by motorbikes

lone cyclist

We’d just got over the excitement of that, when I looked down the road and saw someone had built a wall across it. I looked again, and thought it might be a herd of cows and then realised it was the peleton, led by Team Sky, with undoubtedly Sir Wiggo in among them, although, frankly, when you’ve only got seconds and you’ve only just worked out you’re not looking at a herd of cows, it’s quite hard to pick out the sideburned one so I just took pictures with the idea of working out what I’d seen later

approaching peleton

I think this might be a bit of his leg.

Sky team

And then I got on my bike and rode down the hill, enjoying the fact that, with every car and camper van on the road behind me being driven by a cycling fan, I got passed extremely carefully indeed…

*I’m pretty sure that this is only the case in the Tour of Britain and it wouldn’t even count as a pimple in the Tour de France – you can’t help thinking Nairo Quintana will spend the entire week wondering when the mountain stages are coming – but even so that means I regularly do a Cat 3 climb on my steel touring bike usually with a pannier full of crap and in my normal clothes, so I think I deserve some sort of a prize, frankly.

** about every two years, round here, but let’s not get too pedantic

8 Responses to Col du Doctor’s Surgery

  1. John Bremner says:

    Not a cycling journalist? I don’t know, I quite enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

  2. I recall that we had a pile of Raleigh 20’s donated to our office in Glasgow, which were used as visitor/spare bikes and with bars turned and tightly stacked 4 or them fitted in to an 18″ wide gap in the office toilet.

    Out one day in site yellow jacket, wellie boots and an army surplus day sack on my back I caught up with a retired gent – all the gear – riding a very smart Colnago frame appropriately equipped. I don’t think he quite appreciated my cheery hello as I drew alongside on my rather faded but well tuned up 3-speed ‘shopper’ bike. Read Sheldon Brown, about how to trick-out the Raleigh 20 and Dawes King Pin – both bike have similar geometry to a Bike Friday but not quite the same level of components. You too can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing….

  3. disgruntled says:

    @John – thanks
    @Dave – I suppose I could have done it on the Brompton, but I’m not sure I would have got it up the hill

  4. Jenny says:

    Excellent – I’d have thought them a herd of cows as well. Um, where are the shoulders to the road? That seems an awfully narrow road for it to be two-way. . . but it IS Britain I guess. Even more reason to hope the person trying to pass you is also a cyclist.

  5. disgruntled says:

    That’s a wide road for round here! It’s got a white line down it. Most of our back roads are single track, so cars, bikes, cows and tractors all have to negotiate their passage. It actually makes them pretty pleasant to ride on because nobody can get up to much speed

  6. […] degrees of separation, we quickly discovered we had been standing about 200 yards apart during the Tour of Britain this […]

  7. […] the bike is a practical alternative to the car for anyone, especially when the route involves the Col du Doctor’s Surgery followed by a road which our former neighbour used to like cycling up pulling a laden trailer as […]

  8. […] should have paid attention to the fact that our new house was on a road that was classed as a Category 3 climb in the Tour of Britain. I’ve tried using this entertaining tool but it can’t do much […]

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