Tour De France - We were there!
Written by Takara Park
Photo’s by Kimberley and Andrew
‘I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike’
For those of you that don’t know, the Tour de France was first organised in 1903. It is a multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France but which for the first time in over 100 years started in Yorkshire.
The Eyekit team were out in force this weekend. With our company based so close the the first stages of the tour de France, we couldn’t wait to get in on the action. We were handing out free micro fibre cleaning cloths which were very well received. Many of our staff members were hunted down by spectators with dirty sunglasses and smudge lined glass lenses. We were at 3 different locations: Harrogate, York and Holme Moss.
Harrogate Day 1, Finish Line
The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine
We arrived at Harrogate early, the sun had his hat on and was already smiling down on us as we set to work handing out cloths. Each member of staff had a few thousand cloths and within a couple of hours they were all gone. Great news for us as it meant the rest of the day was ours and all we had to do was find a good position to view the Tour de France which was due to arrive around 4:30.
The turn out in Harrogate was amazing. The crowds were, in some areas, 25-50 deep. I for one stood around, sandwiched in the crowd for an hour and half looking up the hill for a 5 second snippet of cyclists flying down towards the finish line. I ended up with sunburn down half my face. Totally worth it for the atmosphere and typical Yorkshire narration that was going on around me. I heard a great one liner from the local in front of me talking about the constant commentary that was being said from the tanoid above us, “I don’t mind them speaking French, after all this is the Tour de France, but its this guy wi’ ‘is BBC accent I cannot abide. ‘e should be speaking Yorkshire that way we could understand ‘im.”
Quirk of the day:
The caravan or entourage of the Tour de France that came through an hour before the cyclists, provided much needed entertainment for the anticipating crowd. Naturally the Yorkshire Tea company got the loudest cheer, having already handed out boxes of free tea bags. They were even treated to a chorus of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire”. However, it was the cultural differences between the Gendarmerie officers and English police on their motorbikes that caught my attention. The police offices being very English kept to all the rules of the road merely invoked a collective liberal use of their police sirens, revving up the crowd. The Gendarmerie officers, on the other hand, went down the line by the barrier, giving high fives to all those who they could reach.
York Day 2, Start Line
Life is like riding a bicycle- in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving
~ Albert Einstein
The day started off cold and wet. A typical Yorkshire summers day with a fine mist and clouds that threatened to rain. I was worried we might end up stood in a down pour handing out cloths to sodden Yorkshire folks with foggy glasses. As it happened, the sun made an effort to coax’s the clouds out of the sky to shine on the crowds lining the little streets of York. Since I had placed myself near the entrance to the racecourse (and sporting my bright yellow Eyekit t-shirt) I ended up getting accosted by lots of lost tourist asking where to stand, how to get into the race course and more importantly where were the nearest toilets. I learnt the answer to the one and only question that couldn’t wait, the last question, and the rest I sent into the wilderness of the crowd to find an official in orange.
One of my colleagues, on the other hand, had a more hair raising experience handing out cloths. She was interrupted by a police officer pulling her to one side. Worried that she was in troube for somthing, the officer turned to her and said ‘would you mind going over there’…
(pointing in the direction of other police offices that were stood next to their motorbikes)…
then he continued ‘and giving them one of your cloths each to clean the visors on their helmets.’ Totally relieved by this point she quickly ran over and gave them all an Eyekit microfibre cloth just before they set off to escort the cyclists. I like to think that these clean visors were our unofficial contribution to the Tour de France. After about an hours’ labour all the cloths were handed out and this time I made an effort to find to a better view point.
Some of my colleagues had found the perfect view at the top of a street where we were able to look all the way down. I stood as close to the road as I could without falling into it. Not only that but I came prepared with more suncream on one half of my face than the other. If I am to be red I’d rather my entire face be red rather than one half lobster and the other so white its blue.
My timing was impeccable. I hadn’t been stood there more than 5 mins before I saw them cycling round the corner. The yellow, white and red and green jerseys’ in the middle at the front. As York was the start of the race this was over much quicker than yesterday. They cycled past in a tightly packed peloton.
Being a Yorkshire lass myself, I know any excuse for a party, we’re there. York was no different, Bishopthorpe Rd did us proud with one of the best street parties i’ve seen in a while. Lasting from 11 through to sundown.
Quirk of the day:
After all the cyclist had gone past we walked through Rowntree Park with some of the crowd leading towards the centre of York. By this point it was hours since I had had breakfast and I’d missed second breakfast, elevenses and my requisite 4 cups of tea before lunchtime. I demanded we take full advantage of the burger van in the park. We stood and waited in the queue whilst the bells chimed for midday and it was at least half past 12 by the time we got to the front. However, I had to laugh, only in Yorkshire would a burger van sell out of Kebabs and the hog roast before burgers.
Holme Moss day 2, During the race
‘It’s a perfect day and tomorrow’s another tough one and I certainly wouldn’t underestimate it’ ~ Bradley Wiggans
Holme Moss was by far the craziest place to watch the Tour de France. Not only was it visually stunning with its sweeping valley and deep ravines, it had a spectacular turn out with around 60,000 people attending. This was more amazing when you realise that all these people had to walk or cycle there as there was no parking anywhere near. On the bright side I’m sure this reduced the carbon footprint hovering over the event.
The day began sunny and luckily for the riders in the race it shined over them. Unfortunately for the spectators it left with them, leaving my colleagues who were there, caught in a rainstorm to rival a monsoon.
I wasn’t at Holme Moss but my colleagues made sure they told me all about it. After half and hour they ran out of cloths and then had a two hour wait for the caravan and riders. They told me it was all very civilised so to speak until the helicopters filming the race began to come over and hover over head. That’s when everyone came down from the hills, onto the roads until there was only a narrow alleyway made by people for the cyclist to come through. Of course, were there’s a trend, there’s a following and the followers of the selfie crazy were no different. They were there, on the road, documenting this event taking a selfie with a panting rider.
However, as my colleague said, the worst was yet to come. After the riders and there motoring entourage had gone, it left 60,000 walkers and cyclist to make their way down the hill and back to normality. It’s only fair, once you’ve cycled up such a steep hill like the one at Holme Moss and you’ve gained that experience and achievement, that you can free wheel it all the way down until the end of the world (or next town which ever comes first). But with 60,000 people there is no chance of that happening. Most people had to walk down the hill with their bikes, which in my view is worse than cycling up it. Its the greatest tease ever.
So not to be deprived of this experience my colleague walked down a short distance to a roadside coffee van. Then they sat in the rain for half and hour to an hour. This was without a raincoat as he had given it to his daughter (who had refused to bring hers in the first place as it was ‘uncool’) always a father first and a human being second. His two daughters sat looking at him and his wife getting soaked (each with their raincoats on) and with moody mutiny in their eyes. They would have twitted child services I’m sure, if it wasn’t for the fact they didn’t want their iphone’s to get wet. Whether or not the wait was worth the cycle down, was hotly debated over the dinner table. On the upside, at least the kids were still talking to them, even if it was in expletives.
Quirk of the day:
As mentioned earlier at Holme Moss everyone had to either cycle or walk there. This meant that many people had to cycle up that very steep hill ahead of the riders. This is fine when you can struggle up it alone, however, for some other unlucky souls they had an audience of tens of thousands watching them. For two riders, who made this ascent in front of the gathering crowd, the male cyclist in front made a gesture of support and encouragement to the cyclist behind. “Come on Sarah!”
Not long after the words had left his mouth came a chant from the tens of thousands strong watching of “Come on Sarah, come on Sarah”. Not only did they chant but then a few of the titans, who had already made it up the hill but still had surplus energy to give, rushed down and helped push Sarah (who was probably fine) all the way up.