The Tour De France… in Yorkshire

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.

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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.

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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.

DSCF2312We got into Leeds.  The “Welcome to Leeds” flower bed had a yellow jersey attached to it.

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.

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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.

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Even the police where playful.

DSCF2328Then we got the caravan, which was a parade of sponsors throwing out freebies.  We had Robinsons…

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Some French brand hotel, with a mad french bloke shouting through a PA system in a bed…

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A giant rabbit with LCL written on it

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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

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And giant watches (unfortunately no free watches being thrown about)

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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…

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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.

DSCF2404They 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…

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And then they were gone…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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