Cycling: I’m quite fond of venturing out on two wheels, tootling around and taking in the scenery.
But I’m certainly not an off-roader, bouncing through puddles and daubing my back in an unattractive streak of mud.
Nor will you see me donning an aerodynamic body suit and bending at an almost 90º angle over my handle-bars.
Nope, I’m much more a baguette (or a dog) in a basket kind of cyclist.
However, if last year is anything to go by, today will see a strange phenomenon that will survive across summer.
Much like how January seems to compel thousands into a gym, or everyone starts practising their back-hand (okay, just eating strawberries and drinking Pimms) around Wimbledon season, there is a sporting event beginning that will invoke enthusiasts to pipe themselves into colourful Lycra and ride around en masse, generally blocking the rush hour traffic.
The TOUR de YORKSHIRE!
Granted, it sounds like a bad tourist attempt at speaking in a foreign language but for the last two years, our glorious county has been host to some of the world’s best cyclists.
In 2014, Yorkshire was the location chosen as Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France, the initial stage that is regularly held outside of the home country.
Naturally, we gave all the riders competing in the world’s largest annual sporting, a reet good Yorkshire welcome.
So much so, that the following year the Tour de Yorkshire was launched as a race in its own right. I mean, how could they say no when we turned the sheep yellow?!
Now in its second year, the race, which covers three stages and a total of 520km, will pass through some of the most beautiful (and challenging) countryside, from market towns and moors to coastlines and cliffs. And guess what?! It all began this morning in my (adopted) home town of Beverley! So I felt it my patriotic duty (county-otic?) to write about it!
Okay, what can I tell you about the place I have lived in for the last 4 years? Well, aside from having a coffee/charity shop ratio to pensioners, seemingly on a par with New Zealand’s sheep to human population, here are some facts;
It’s old. Like 700 AD old. That’s when St John of Beverley built the Minster for pilgrims.
The name (meaning Beaver Lake) recognises that these creatures were once quite prevalent here. Although, it was formerly known as Inderawuda.
It is home to Beverley Grammar School, the oldest state funded school in England. Again, founded in 700 AD by St John.
It has the beautiful Beverley Westwood, an area of over 600 acres of common land, cared for by the Pasture Masters.
Beverley has had a racecourse since the 1600s but the current track was an airfield for the Royal Flying Corps in WW1.
Rumour has it that Lewis Carrol, who once visited the town, got his inspiration for Alice in Wonderland after seeing a carving of a rabbit in St. Mary’s Church (in the photo).
However, rumour also has it that David Bowie once played at a pub around the corner from me and that Daniel Craig was spotted house-hunting here too, so take that story as you want!
The house hunting may not have been a bad idea though, as Beverley was voted the best place to live in the UK a few years ago. 🙂
Despite the awful weather, crowds lined the streets of my little town, to cheer on the peloton (main riding group) as it did an honorary pass through the market square, before commencing the race from Beverley Racecourse on the Westwood.
Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first Brit to actually win the famous Tour de France ‘yellow jersey’ in 2012 (and also an Olympic gold medalist) was one of the most anticipated riders to be taking part.
I unfortunately didn’t see him, possibly because I spent most of the morning in a coffee shop, avoiding the downpour. We do have a friend with a dog who has the same name though (which I feel is the best name ever for a dog) – we’ve never asked why. I’m not even sure if they like cycling…
Anywho, local schools came out to spectate or take part in the children’s race, shops allowed their staff to hang out windows and wave flags and the streets became as vision of blue and yellow paraphernalia! Everyone seemed to love it. 🙂
This first stage of 182 km is expected to take around four hours to complete, finishing in Selby late afternoon. And if you want to catch any of it, Itv4 and Eurosport are broadcasting the race throughout the weekend.
I hope you enjoyed my little introduction to my home, if you’re ever in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit!
Image Credits: Mine , plus cyclingweekly.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk, Pinterest and Wikipedia.