The Tour De France… in Yorkshire: So the Tour de France came to Yorkshire… This was a pretty historic occasions as I don’t think there has ever been an event of this magnitude in Yorkshire ever. This was not an experience I wanted to miss, so I went to Leeds to see the start.
I got up early to get bus – my intention was to catch the caravan at 9:10am and find a decent place in the centre of Leeds to catch the action.
My first experience that the Tour de France was here, was spotting a vehicle with a big neon noticeboard saying that the road was closed. Two workmen sat in the van.
I thought it must be great to have a job where you have the power to close off major roads.
The bus was not rammed like I thought it would be, but I could see small clusters of people walking into the city centre.
The first task was to pee, as I have the bladder of a four-year old child and had just drunk a green tea.
In the toilet there was a security presence, which was good to know just incase I needed a hand holding my penis while I pissed.
There was a guy in a van selling Tour de France merchandise. My usual experience of guys selling merchandise out of the back of a van is that it is usually a knock off.
But as the van was covered in the Tour de France logo and a french bloke shouting with the assistance of a PA system, I assumed it was legit.
The city centre was packed and as I had mainly gone to take photos of the cyclists I wanted a good shot without having a crowd of heads. So I walked about a mile down the road before finding a place I liked.
Shops had made the effort to get in the spirit of Le Tour and the atmosphere of the crowd was one of excitement.
Even the police where playful.
Some French brand hotel, with a mad french bloke shouting through a PA system in a bed…
A giant rabbit with LCL written on it
Hot continental girls throwing out cloths for wiping sunglasses. I swear if the Tour de France was a UK concept we wouldn’t allow the hot girls because it objectifies them
And giant watches (unfortunately no free watches being thrown about)
We then had a one and a half hour wait, so I ventured into the centre of Leeds for another piss and was met with this…
Being so far out of the centre I would normally piss in a bush, but with so many visitors gracing our fair city I thought I better find a toilet in a shopping centre.
Along the way I was pulled up by a charity mugger, I was a bit distracted, I was worried for time I wanted to get back into my position. But first I had to politely shrug off…
“Blah, blah, blah… social justice…. blah, blah, blah sustainability“
I said I wasn’t interested and made my way back to where I had been.
More people had come from there homes to see the start of the race so I had to go even further down, until I ended up on Meanwood Road.
There was still a 30 minute wait, having never seen a big race in person I can now tell you what it is like…
There is a lot of tedious waiting, therefore take a book with you as unlike TV you are not being entertained by chatty punditry or shots of royalty/politicians/famous people watching.
Because I was so far back you do miss the official start, so you don’t get the honour of seeing one of our inbred royals show they know how to use a pair of scissors.
So I had to get my camera together quickly as I heard cheering in the distance. And then they came.
They came through so quickly, that I didn’t get as many shots as I would like. Also consider the fact, they had not officially started – this was the warmup and they were all closely grouped together, so I couldn’t get shots of stragglers.
Despite them going at a warmup pace, they were probably cycling faster than I ever have, even on a slight downhill…
Then you get people like this cocky bastard, who made it look like the whole thing was not worth his time…
And then they were gone…
The spectators who had flooded down quickly disappeared and all that was left to see was the massive convoy of support – the spare bikes, the reserves, the team buses and the hot girls.
This was 2 years of hype, with a 2 hour wait for the start with a 2 second window to get photos of the cyclists. Yet I am not disappointed, this was a great opportunity that I was privileged to see.
I headed back into the city, following crowds of people who were going to the shops, catching the celebrations and going home.
I looked around Millenium Square and already the clean up job was taking place. A load of young French men imported in – they knew what they had to do.
Okay I didn’t get to see the cyclists much and it wasn’t at the peak of competitiveness. But it was a fantastic experience to see this event on my doorstep.
We don’t get much opportunity to have events of such reputation up North so I was glad with all the people who showed up. Hopefully when day 2 is over, people will think of Yorkshire more fondly.