Friday, 18 July 2014

Le Grand Depart 2014: Your Bike Shed and Yorkshire Heroes

The day finally arrived - Le Tour de France Grand depart 2014. A 190.5 km rolling stage from Leeds to Harrogate.

The road painters were out early, despite the drizzle.

The A59, near 'HQ Hughes'.

A gentle pootle along the River Ouse ...

"You shall not pass!"
Past the station and through the ancient Micklegate ...
Cycling through the Micklegate - a glorious sight awaits.
Greeted by a band... and their lone groupie from Japan (she was there all day!)
The crowds gathered  - after we accidently 'opened up' a little early by barging straight in!
Your Bike Shed - a cafe/workshop devoted to all things bicycle. I rest happy!
Indoor bike parking for over 20 bikes - what a difference this makes to a relaxing espresso.
Tim, his training  bike and winter wheels (I'm jealous!) He drove over from Lancashire, parked his car up and rode 50 miles in. Top chap & one of Britain's best amateur triathletes. He had lots of good tips on getting your better half to embrace the obsession!
er, 5 minutes before opening! The staff are fantastic (and very patient.)

Perks of early arrival - The delicious Full-English at Your Bike Shed, York
The delicious early breakfast at the excellent Your Bike Shed - and what a warm & genuine welcome Martin, Adele and all their gave us - in York's historic Micklegate saw us through the short stroll to the railway station, via a quick T-shirt exchange (my medium slim-fit proved far too optimistic) at York Cycle Heaven (a must visit for you Brompton fans.)
Cycle Heaven, York station.
We even managed to beat the crowds at the station - just.

Waiting for the York-Harrogate Le Tour Special - it soon got very busy.
Now, the plan was this... Find the finish line, walk down the road to the '1km to go' banner, set up for the day - we were there to cheer Michael Hughes and the Marie Curie cancer Care Power Peloton - and watch Cav take the stage an the maillot jaune. Things didn't exactly to to plan! The crowds were astonishing in number and gloriously cheerful in manner.
The Tour Makers did a wonderful job - always with a smile.
By 11 am it was already several Tifosi deep along ten's of kilometres of the rout. We couldn't get near. The team split up with most gently wiggling their way to the roadside and me taking a stroll around the rather lovely city of Harrogate.

This is as close as I could get to the legendary Betty's Tea Room.

The not-so-happy face of consumerism - perhaps they've just seen the prices!

The entire county seemed to have been covered in homemade wool bunting. Fabulous stuff.

The jolliest purveyors of fine Yorkshire street grub.

A Manchester couple grab the last remaining crowd free space.
With the peloton about an hour away the excitement and atmosphere was electric.
But where to watch? What to do? Ooh, an invitation to nibble, look at old bikes and watch the stage has just been thrust into my hand - my retro jersey and cap have come to the rescue. A new plan - mid-stage tactics replaces pre-stage strategy!

Heroes of Cycling: Pop up Exhibition... coming soon in the next post.

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