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Did you see them?

19th August 2013 @ 7:07am – by Editor Tarvin Webteam
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Sunday started so sunny and bright. A chance I thought to get away from the PC and do some field work as I set off camera in hand towards the bottom of Broomheath Lane to see the cycle race come through.
Halfway there to my surprise I realised I was walking alongside my whippet/greyhound who had escaped the house. There was no way I was going down to see the riders with that dog not on a lead. To him anything on 2 or 4 legs or even 2 wheels moving at speed is a fair challenge. The thought of a headline accusing me of causing a crash to the elite riders of the Etape Mercia race was too dreadful to contemplate.
With the dog safely back in the house I was ready to walk down again. However I thought I should join in the spirit of the day and cycle down. Hauling my bike from the dim recess of the garage revealed 2 flat tyres- not a job for first thing on a Sunday and I would probably miss the race.
Never mind, the ladies bike looked fine so it was duly wheeled out.
I have never understood why getting on a ladies bike still required me to put my leg over the saddle as though the bar was still there. Does anybody else do this and know why?
Starting off downhill ( whatever the slope) is always a joy and the coned off T junction at the end of Broomheath Lane with the Duddon/Waverton road was reached in no time at all.
Apart from the young steward manning the barricade there was just one rider , properly dressed in helmet, yellow tabard and cycling shorts on a smart racer.
His look at me said it all and I was about to protest that my next job that morning was putting emulsion on the ceiling hence the paint spotted tee-shirt and ripped jeans but thought better of it.

Good race organisation meant that the steward was updated on the race progress by radio and told me in a strong cockney accent we had just 5 minutes to wait. Passing the time remaining in conversation I ventured that he was not local-no flies on this reporter! Evidently he had travelled up overnight on a coach from London but luckily was paid whilst he slept throughout the journey so no problem!
Despite the road closed ahead signs one driver had earlier blagged his way through the barricade after stating he only needed to travel 50 yards down the Waverton road. Needless to say he disappeared around the corner but returned 5 mins later after meeting a supervisor made of sterner stuff.
With only a couple of minutes remaining a pickup truck rushed along from the Duddon direction and turned up Broomheath Lane. So much for the warnings about the dangers of traffic on roads closed for a major cycle race. The cones were repositioned just before the motorcycle police outriders appeared around the bend with the 4 first riders.

In 5 seconds they were gone by at speed but it appeared to be effortless even after 40km and quiet descended again. I had read that the organisers had hoped for up to 2000 cyclists to take part. After quite some time waiting in total silence I thought the missing 1996 remaining riders needed some explanation.


Then the silence was broken by a gradually increasing noise like a train in the distance. I had never realised how noisy a large group of cyclists at speed on bikes with narrow tyres could be as they shot round the corner.

A quick video clip was managed without getting run over. Job done and home for coffee I thought but to me the ascent of Broomheath Lane to get back home felt like a mountain stage, even after dropping down 5 gears.

David Smeatham ventured farther afield to view the race and said" Going through Weetwood the lead pack were 5 minutes ahead of the field and working well as a team. Cyclists were clearly enjoying the gentle slope".
"It was completely different story going up the hill past Willington fruit farm. Here again the lead pack appeared relaxed as they passed chatting about the length of the slope. Later riders had a different attitude with a good few clearly not pleased about the increasing steepness of the slope."
I'm glad it was not just me struggling at times but perhaps I better stay in front of the PC after all.
I hope you enjoyed the spectacle as well.

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