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
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
I think this might be a bit of his leg.
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