Yellow bikes and red spots

We just got back home from a week in Reeth, North Yorkshire.  The ultimate purpose of our stay was to see the Tour de France go through the village.  Yes – that’s right.  The Tour de France in Yorkshire!

In the run up to Saturday, we spent time driving and walking around the Yorkshire Dales from our little cottage in Reeth.  We were both impressed by the way that the area had embraced le Tour.  There were yellow bikes, bunting and red and white spots everywhere.  Shops and pubs had renamed themselves with French translations of their names and there was more than one strand of garlic being worn. There was a real festival feeling in the villages and an air of expectation….

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We walked up Fremington Edge, High and Low Reeth moors, Aysgarth Falls and we also walked from Hawes.  It was in Hawes were I got these pictures which are my two most favourite pictures of the trip!

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And the Tour did not disappoint.  We decided on a vantage point on Grinton Moor where we could see the cyclists climbing out of the valley and tackling the hair pin bend just below.  It seemed a popular spot when we arrived – there were huge crowds on both sides of the road…. but by all accounts most spots were popular along the route.  It was a really well supported event – in fact it was reported that 1 million people watched on Saturday alone!

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We waited for about 3 hours for the bikes but the wait was filled by entertainment:

  • Watching the characters in the crowd
  • Admiring ingenious ways to get the best vantage point.
  • The Mexican wave.
  • Every time someone came up the road on a bike no matter how young or old or how able, they were cheered on to help them get up the hill.
  • A “caravan” or parade of promotional vehicles came past offering freebies, playing music and generally geeing up the crowd.  The French accents behind the megaphones seemed a bit surreal in the classic English countryside – as did the whole thing really.  We have walked in these remote locations so often but had never seen anything quite like this…
  • The local police on their motorbikes were also in the spirit tooting their horns and waving and encouraging the crowd.

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And then they came.  The clue that the arrival was imminent was the 8 helicopters above!  What a force the Peloton looked to be moving as one up the mountain!  There was a breakaway rider too a few hundred metres in front striving to be King of the Mountain.   I waved my Canadian flag for the one Canadian rider in the field and Paul clapped and admired the athleticism of all of them.  Stella looked for someone to throw her ball for her.  Nothing new there then.

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It might be a few years before le Tour comes back here and if it does, it could be anywhere in the country but we both agreed that it was a great experience and one we would repeat in the future given the opportunity.  Maybe we’ll have to try for a French vantage point next time!

Vive le Tour! 🙂