Saturday May 17
Friday and today have been absolutely gorgeous days here in Yorkshire so I finally got out on the bike to enjoy the scenery and the weather.
Ilkley is at Mile 23 on this year’s Tour de France cycle race and hence only about 45 minutes from Le Grand Depart. This marks the first time that Le Tour has ventured this far north in England and it is considered a great coup for the County of Yorkshire that the first two stages will be raced entirely within the County.
Road cycling has always been popular in England but must be at an all-time high at the moment following two consecutive Tour wins for Brits and with the additional excitement created by its start here in July. So, in my own way, I joined in the anticipation and took to the roads that, in part, will soon be traveled by the World’s best cyclists.
In two outings, covering a total of 62 miles, I perhaps traced 25 miles of their route, all of it being on relatively flat terrain (for them!) and with no “Category” Hills involved. There are several Category 3 and 4 climbs in the Yorkshire stages this year (which would almost certainly find me pushing the bike) and I can’t imagine the Category 1and 2 Cotes of the Alps.
My average speed was also somewhat less impressive than that of Le Tour cyclists, where daily averages of 30 mph are not unusual – and that over distances of well over 100 miles on some days. My total distance in two days at a pace of about 10 mph would mean that I would be “on the road” three times as long as the elite – if indeed I could cover those immense distances.
Still, I did travel a few miles of Le Tour, I saw the same beautiful scenery as they would if they could take the time to view it and, in all probability, I enjoyed better weather than they could encounter in their two days in Yorkshire.
For those interested in seeing a little of the route that Le Tour will take in its first two stage, click here. Admittedly some of the pictures were taken in winter and the terrain is therefore somewhat more foreboding than July will offer, but they do give a sense of the glorious scenery that will be passed through. They also clearly show the terrain that the cyclists will experience – and I envy the fact that they even want to try to climb those hills.