Wednesday, 11 June 2014

La Tete de la Course

I know this isn’t going to interest many people but it was a big deal for me – I’m a cycling fan. I’m still sad that I wasn't well enough in 2012 to watch the Olympic Road races – they weren’t very far away but I was just too ill. In three weeks, Le Tour De France is here and I’m making impossible plans and schemes to try to get there.

Because I don’t suppose it will work out, I went to Woking to watch the 9th stage of the Criterium Tour; a series of city centre races for the long summer evenings.

This is La Téte de la Course on the second or third lap;

Here’s a young fan finding a new use for a police cone;


It’s full of thrills;


The riders go round at about 25 miles an hour and because they do 30 laps you get lots of chances to see your favourite riders.

I always forget how visceral cycling is; you hear the teams arguing, planning, scheming. Tactics is everything; it’s a brain sport.

But you need legs too – Woking has a hill and although it’s not that steep after 30 laps at full speed there are riders slowing to a stop and even vomiting.
It’s a hard sport. There are no days off. It's all sweat, blood and fear.

I was very lucky to see the riders lined up for the start, watched the thrilling first few laps, took lots of photos….I’m sure you’d like to see every one? Maybe not.

Like any bike race there is a VIP area with a sponsors bar for their clients and hangers on, some hardly known celebrities and the full media circus of cameras flashing, glamorous women, sleek men, sly movers and shakers, an announcer stirring up the crowd, all of us banging on the boards, dubious businessmen, shifty politicians, TV cameras, the press, free inflatable clackers (I got mine), bad take aways, over-priced shirts, lots of beer. I love it.

For one mad moment I was in Bordeaux for the summer Crits, watching the stars of Le Tour earning their money after the big race; red wine and canapés, L’Equipe and croissants, apple brandy and……I’d better stop having dreams that will never be.

It was a great night, full of excitement, thank you Woking.

Now how can I stay well enough and get cover to get to Le Tour?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
For better pictures click on one for a slideshow.

Apologies, there are some accents day I'll find them.

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