t’ Tour in Yorkshire

Me, Cyclist v Harriers event, Farthngdown, Coulsdon, Surrey, December 1969.

Me, Cyclist v Harriers event, Farthngdown, Coulsdon, Surrey, December 1969.

This is the first post for a month, perhaps not surprising given the intervening Christmas and New Year break. I’ve manage to come through this without too much damage to my weight loss efforts, only putting on about 3 lbs all of which I have managed to lose again. I’ve only been on the roads three times since the beginning of December, an LCAG Saturday ride, my local 7 mile circuit and I rode to Peel Park and back to watch the National Cyclocross Championships. Despite being very cold I enjoyed these very much, probably the first time I have seen cyclocross live since I last competed myself in 1969. At over 11 stone I was much better on the road, a bit too heavy for the cross country stuff. It’s a great sport to watch though if you wrap up well. The circuits are quite short and challenging and you are close to the action. There’s races for all classes including kids and the over 50s veterans (some are still competing well into their 70s) and races usually last between 30 minutes and an hour.

Stage 1

Last Thursday I went to the show outside Leeds Town Hall for the announcement of the route for the Tour De France through Yorkshire. I’m afraid I found the preamble and the interviews with minor celebrities rather boring and, as it was cold and snowing, I came home early. There was a fantastic crowd there however, despite the weather. The first stage only has about noteworthy 2 climbs (from the perspective of a Tour rider anyway) and should finish in a sprint in Harrogate. There is a reasonable chance that Cavendish will end the day in the Yellow Jersey! The second day is much harder. It starts in York and has a flat beginning but has 8 significant climbs in the last 80 kilometres with one only 5km from the end in Sheffield. I have put my name down as a volunteer Tour Maker but 8000 beat me to it so I’ll have to wait and see. I am hoping to get fit enough to ride the first stage, illustrated above, 190 kilometres on roads most of which I have ridden before albeit 25 years ago. I suspect a lot of people will be doing this. Realistically I won’t be up to this until the Spring of 2014 but that gives me a year to get fit enough for what will be for me a very demanding route. The full details of the Yorkshire stages can be found on the Yorkshire Le Tour web site.

The other big happening is the televised confession of Lance Armstrong with Oprah Winfrey. He has admitted to blood doping and using other banned substances for all 7 of his Tour wins and even before his cancer. He said he didn’t think of it as cheating as it was just part of the job, like putting air in your tyres and water in your bottle. He also claimed it was not cheating as it was a level playing field, implying that all his other main opponents were at it too. More will come out as a result of this I’m sure. The interview and confession have had a very mixed response so far. Armstrong wants to be able to return to competition in Iron Man events but he will have to spill a lot more before his lifetime ban is reduced. Nicole Cooke’s take on Armstrong is powerfully expressed in her retirement statement.

“But for many genuine people out there who do ride clean; people with morals, many of these people have had to leave the sport with nothing after a lifetime of hard work – some going through horrific financial turmoil. When Lance “cries” on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward – just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances”.

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