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Monday, September 17, 2012

Tour of Britain 2012

 This has been a summer of cycling for us. Sadly we've not been riding our bikes but we've been watching cycling a LOT. First it was Tour de France then the Olympics followed by La Vuelta ('tour of Spain') then last week it was time for Tour of Britain. Last year we watched the stage in Somerset and had a great day out so this year we decided to do it again and watch the Devon stage.
We left very early on Saturday to get to Barnstaple in time to watch the riders sign in. That's the best chance to see them up close. The weather was gorgeous and the crowds in Barnstaple were huge. We waked past all the team vehicles and buses. Normally you can walk right up to the buses and this time you could with all of the teams apart from the Sky team bus which had it's own police guard and barriers to stop you getting up close to the bus. This didn't happen last year so that shows how much Sky's popularity has increased after Bradley Wiggins Tour de France and olympic wins. Unfortunately Bradley Wiggins had pulled out of Tour of Britain the day before due to illness so we didn't get the chance to see him.

We did get to see Sky's other top rider, Mark Cavendish, though.
 We saw a lot of other riders up close too but most of them I've no idea who are.
 Local Devon lad , Jonathan Tiernan-Locke spent the day in the leaders gold jersey and ended up winning the tour overall.
 Below is the Swedish champion riding for the UK Youth team (which I thought was all young British riders but apparently not).
 A Sky rider below, not sure which one it is though.
We tried to find a good spot for the start but it was a struggle because of the huge crowds. Much fewer people last year at the start in Taunton.

 After the riders set off the team cars pull out. The bigger teams all have 2 team cars and some of the smaller teams only 1.
 The number of cars and motorbikes that follow the tour around is amazing. Definitely not environmentally friendly.
After the riders left Barnstaple, we jumped in the car and headed for Dartmoor. Now the problem is that to get ahead of the ride and get in to a good spot we had to go a different route to them and it's quite a long drive to where we wanted to watch them. We were heading for the 'Coffin Stone' climb between Dartmeet and Ashburton but Dartmoor was packed and there must have been a classic car rally going on too as we kept getting stuck behind very slow classic cars. Eventually we got on the right road driving towards the riders. A police motorbike came past so we knew the tour was close-ish. He told us we could continue but we had no idea how long it was to the spot we wanted to get to so we drove up the hill, found a good place to park the car then walked up the hill for about 10 mins till we came to a flat spot where we set up camp. We didn't have to wait too long and there was a steady stream of police motor bikes and marshals on motorbikes coming past. We were worried the riders would be going too fast when they past us but it was okay.  We managed to spot quite a few of the famous riders.
 That's the 'gold jersey' winner just disappearing from view.
 We had a nice wall to sit on while we were waiting and I was knitting. I did kind of hope we'd be able to spot ourselves on TV but we didn't get on the highlight programme. If you watched it live and saw a lady sitting on a wall knitting a blue scarf, then that's me.

After all the riders followed by the team cars had gone past we rushed back to the car to continue to Dartmouth to watch the finish. Unfortunately lots of other people were having the same idea and on one of the narrow bridges it was a complete gridlock and it didn't improve until an off duty police officer came and directed the traffic. From watching the highlight programme the crowds on Dartmoor were huge. I'm glad we didn't head for the top of the hill we'd planned on because we wouldn't have seen a thing nor been able to park the car.

Once we got off Dartmoor the drive to Dartmouth on the coast went well. Once we got to Dartmouth we had to park in a temporary park & ride way out of town but because the roads in to the town centre were closed in anticipation of the riders arriving it was actually a part & walk. We were sure we'd missed the finish but halfway into town we came past a spot were we could watch the riders coming down the hill. The had to slow down a bit as there was a tight right hand corner just past where we were standing so it wasn't a bad spot.
By the time we'd walked down in to the town centre after all the riders had gone past us it was all over and the team buses were already heading out of town which was a bit disappointing. We did spot the ITV 4 TV crew doing interviews and got very close to getting on camera.
We didn't get on TV this time either though.
For most of these cycling tours we've been watching the hour long highlight shows in the evenings and i've gotten into a routine where I'd spend that hour spinning. I've got so much spun this summer, it's been amazing and i've really enjoyed getting back into spinning. Now I just need to find a way to keep the momentum going. I'm going to try to continue to spin for an hour every evening, perhaps while I watch the evening news. I find if I have a set time it's easier to stick to. It's very easy, especially when deadlines are looming, to think I don't have time to spin and to just sit there and knit instead but I need to make sure  I keep making time for spinning too. It's fun.

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