Ring side seats
It’s not often that a major sporting event takes place outside your front door, but when the organisers of the Tour of Britain released the finalised route, I realised we were about to have a ringside seat.
I’ve been watching the progress of this event with keen interest. My original plan had been to release my Cornish cycle rides book shortly before the race back in 2020. Of course, Covid stopped play, both for the race and my book. Whilst I was locked down and unable to travel anywhere for my walks of cycle rides, I started to write fiction. I wasn’t sure Routes from my Front Door, would be a bestseller. Plus, everyone asking to use the loo and fill up their water would bug me 😀 So, I wrote fiction and, like the rest of the world, waiting for the pandemic to shale its way through our lives.
Eventually, the Tour of Britain was re-scheduled to September 2021. Surely I’d have the Cycle rides book ready by then? Not a chance, and so race day came and Steve and I wandered down to watch the world go by. We found a quiet spot to stand and watched the preparations. I filmed the whole thing so that you can see what takes place behind the scenes and it is truly remarkable. Rolling road closures takes an impressive level of organisation, part of which seemed to involve employing every motorcycle rider in the UK police force. (Potential over-exaggeration, but watch the video, it’s astonishing.)
And then the cyclists went past in the blink of an eye. Three ahead, and then a minute later a fast-moving pod of blue and red bodies. As they reached the corner, they leaned as one and sped away along the turn. In front and behind motorbikes and cars offered a moving protective barrier. There followed two more solo cyclists a few seconds behind the pack and we continued to cheer and clap. Then they too were gone. But the entourage continued, cars from all countries laden down with bikes on their roofs, following the pack. Then came the vans and various support vehicles until finally an ambulance ended the entourage. Interestingly, at the back of our pack was a second ambulance, its sirens wailing. It turned out that it wasn’t part of the Ride but out on a shout.
It was an exceptional event and gone in a flash and we enjoyed every minute of it.
And what of the book?
Fingers crossed the book will last a little longer 😀 Below is a link to one of the rides I will be featuring.
By the way, as this is a cycling related post, let me quickly draw your attention to a new cycle route in Cornwall, the West Kernow Way
I have ridden sections of this, but not the whole route. It is currently unsigned, so head to the website and download their .gpx route. It won’t feature in my book beyond a link, due to its length and skill level, but I’m certainly going to recommend it.
My favourite image of the event.
(This is not my footage it took place up country.)
“Though the breakaway was almost 3½ minutes up the road with just over 10km to go, Dutch rider Eenkhoorn still made time for the boy despite the stage victory being in the balance.
The boy was on his racing bike and dressed in full kit when he rode along the footpath so he could keep pace with the riders as they passed. He put in a very good effort, getting his speed up before the breakaway caught him. He was then able to ride alongside the escape group for a few seconds.
UPDATED: The boy in the video below is Xander Graham, a young racing cyclist who won silver in the British U12 National Criterium Series this morning and then went out on his bike again to see the Tour of Britain. And after starring in this brilliant racing incident, Xander (and his family) have been offered a VIP trip to the race for the final stage tomorrow, courtesy of Eisberg wine. His mam and dad may be the ones grabbing the, erm, ‘bidons’ tomorrow!”