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Memories of the Grand Depart to last a lifetime…

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Memories of the Grand Depart to last a lifetime…

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York Grand Depart

July 16th, 2014

It’s almost hard to believe that we are now over a third of the way through Le Tour de France.  We may have lost a few of the favourites along the way (Contador and Froome) but it’s still as exciting as ever as we reach today’s 11th stage between Besançon and Oyonnax.

Even though the cyclists whizzed through Yorkshire over a week and a half ago, the memory of the Grand Depart is still fresh in our minds and here, one of our Ride25 riders, Natalie, reflects on her day in her hometown of York, celebrating Stage 2 of the Grand Depart…

Having watched Saturday’s Grand Depart from Harewood House only on the small screen, we were more than looking forward to the peloton coming over to our neck of the woods, York, on Sunday.

We were up at 6.30, ready to leave by 7am wondering how much traffic there would be on the roads after Saturday’s amazing turnout by the folk of Yorkshire!

Park and ride is usually such a dull way to travel but not on this morning, nope…the buzz started here. People who didn’t know each other chatting like old friends, children playing together in the queue and all to see nearly 200 blokes in lycra whizz past on some rather flimsy looking bikes.

The walk up to the racecourse was great….so many people had walked, biked, bused it in. No queues, no hassles. Everyone was thrilled to be around the Knavesmire, even though it was only 7.30am on a Sunday morning.

York Tdf Grand DepartInside there was a lot to consider, where should we stand being the most important dilemma of the day. With 10 friends coming to join us together with their gaggle of children it needed to be somewhere the kids would be engaged (people handing out sweeties and flags being at the top of their list) together with it being practical (mum I’m hungry, I need a wee…..) being the top of mine.

We settled for a spot near the champagne bar. Alas it is only such on actually horse race day not bike race day so a round of bacon butties and cups of coffees did the trick instead as we penned ourselves in to wait for the start.

The French police were great with the children, chatting and more importantly passing over sweeties from an old friend who was a volunteer and therefore at the ‘posh’ side! The caravane passed through but only on a minor scale, a couple of landrovers with students in, a few cars with oversized rabbits on top and a man on a segway giving out Bic biros. It would appear the exciting vans and trailers were too cumbersome to come into the racecourse itself, perhaps that was to be the disappointment of the day?

Cyclists - Grand Depart YorkAnyhow spirits not dampened, 11 am soon arrived, after watching the bemused faces of the cyclists signing on in front of 30,000 people! All of a sudden, the Gendarmes mounted their motorbikes (why do the French police have such cool bikes mum and the English ones don’t?!?) and sped off, ready for the day. Next the car with Gary Verity aboard came flying passed but his smile lit up the way for the riders who followed, no man prouder of his fellow Yorkshire folk that day.

The smell of deep heat as the cyclists passed was satisfying. The first day had clearly taken its toll on these experienced riders, more so than they thought it would! We were so close we could have touched them if we had wanted but the clicking of cameras with one hand and the waving of flags with another put a stop to that.

The cycling elite were clearly thrilled by what they were experiencing, a 20 minute jaunt into one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with a ridiculous amount of people cheering them on before the work started…..when did cycling become so popular you could almost hear them cry!

The support cars heavily laden with beautiful bikes came next. My cycling friends and I deciding which one we would have and joking that they wouldn’t miss one or two.

Then they were gone. And we were all beaming. Thrilled at the experience. Grateful for the opportunity. Happy to have been there.







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