The almost inevitable “I saw The Tour!” post…

Well I did, but let’s face it that’s hardly a surprise to anyone who knows me.

I felt kind of down at the end of last week, work feels as if it’s just going in circles at the moment as a new client gets to grips that some buildings don’t just build themselves (really – there’s a world of difference between putting up some shelving and building a fitness centre) and that because it works for one model of building that doesn’t mean it will for every building, and I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts. I’d been talking about going to see the Tour for a while, but when the weekend actually rolled around there was part of me that couldn’t really be bothered.

Saturday came and went – I watched it on TV and got excited to see them going around Yorkshire, but still the effort to get there felt more than I was up for, so instead I plumbed in the dishwasher and tried to keep busy. We visited a new tea shop in town and had a bit of a walk around, but I still was a (in all honesty) a right miserable bugger. Non productivity it would appear is not good for me. Sj commented that it was passing near Glossop and the town had set up giant screens to watch it, we could possibly go to see it there on Sunday. Maybe…

Sj mentioned that I could cycle to Glossop and she could catch the train. Maybe…

I got an early night to see if I could sleep myself out of my funeral state.

Sunday morning I got up (relatively early) and got ready to head out. Sj was feeling a little off but insisted I go ahead. I set off to Glossop, forgetting just how hilly it got en route but that was part of the fun and pulled up in Glossop an hour and half later. Sj still hadn’t left and was feeling delicate – why don’t I go on to the race site itself? I hummed and ahh’d about it a bit and finally set off. With each mile the number of cyclists doubled. Descending into the Woodhead Pass bikes were parked six deep as far as the eye could see. People were being told that the bottom of Holme Moss was just too full to accommodate everyone else, carry on further along the pass and you’d have a better chance of seeing it. I slogged on and parked up near the tunnels – turned out I’d got the ideal spot, I’d see the cycling for more than a fleeting second and the view wasn’t bad either.

Almost the perfect spot for watching the approach

Sitting down it soon became clear that nearly everyone else had come here on bike, the talks was all about bikes and “How far have you come?” (a paltry 20 miles in my case, paltry when you realised that some people had cycled from a Chester – a 110 mile round trip to my 40…) and “How long have you been here?”. There was no data or radio signal so updates were via phone calls “They’re at Keighley / Huddersfield / Holmfirth” quickly did the rounds and everyone listened out for the helicopters that signalled they were at the bottom of Holme Moss.

The leader came past on his own, followed by a breakaway pack chasing him down and then the peloton. The one thing the TV doesn’t convey is there sheer noise of them passing as hundreds of wheels buzz on the tarmac. They were past in a flash, with no slow down for the start of the climb. Afterwards you realise they could probably cycle faster than you in their sleep. The stragglers and sprinters followed up a minute later, followed by the last few who’d made mechanical issues and now faced the slog of having to catch everyone else up. All told it was probably about three minutes of excitement. Everyone cheered and clapped, cowbells rang and everyone smiled.

The Peloton swings past

If you look carefully you can see the Yellow Jersey

Cycling home was surreal. The roads belonged to bikes, hundreds of riders set off, some at breakneck pace, others more sedate to the nearest car park. All along the route back pub forecourts were full of riders stopping for a pint on their way home, no one minded how long it took you to get up the hill. I stopped in Marple to meet Sj who’d ended up going to see a brass band instead. Loading up on chips and pork scratching’s I realised one thing.

If your girlfriend tells you to go and watch the Tour, go and watch the Tour. She’ll be right about it in the end…

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