Sunday, 6 July 2014

Things To Do When You're Not Boating: No. 1 Le Tour de France

This weekend has been somewhat of a Starcross crew reunion. Hugh and Jeanette (former Co-owners)  live in Knaresborough,  bang on the route of Sunday's stage and only a few miles from Harrogate,  the finish of the Grand Depart. Hilary wasn't interested,  but fortunately crew members Gwent and Martin were. Martin had opted to watch the race on the Buttertubs pass, or "Cote de Buttertubs" as it will henceforth be known. As this involved sleeping overnight in the car at the side of the road followed by a strenuous cycle ride, Gwen opted to join me in Knaresborough.
Early this morning we caught a bus into Harrogate. I'd assumed it would be impossible to get anywhere near the finish line but by dint of arriving only six hours before the riders we found a spot only 200 metres from the finish and opposite a large screen showing the French TV feed. We saw the whole race on the screen and also witnessed,in the flesh, the final sprint to the line,  including poor old Mark Cavendish's crash which was just metres from where we were stood.
It was only when we saw the aerial photos of the centre of the town that we realised the size of the crowd we were now in the centre of,  but getting back to Knaresborough proved much easier than expected as the buses played a blinder. After getting a much - needed cup of tea from a stall on The Stray we walked back into town. There were two long queues of people waiting to get into the railway station that stretched into infinity,  but we were able to walk straight into the adjacent bus station and although this was very crowded there were two buses loading up for Knaresborough. We got straight onto one,  which set off as soon as it had loaded up to full,  or even beyond full,  capacity. Gwen even got the last seat on the bus but after standing for 6 hours at the side of the road what was another 20 minutes standing to me?! The impossibility of bringing a car into Harrogate on. Tour Day meant that the roads were empty and, for once,  buses were able to operate to their full potential and we were soon home without any delay and at a time which,  had we been going by train,  we'd have still been waiting to enter Harrogate station.

Tomorrow the Tour passes within a few hundred metres of Hugh and Jeanette's front door and we can do it all again!

No comments: