Friday, September 16, 2011

Tour of Britain Stage 6

We've spent most of today rushing around the byways of the Mendips, intersecting the course of the Tour of Britain. Midday found us sat on an old stone wall at the top of the Cheddar Gorge. About ten minutes before the race proper arrived, fourteen menacing police bikes flashed by with just a few seconds separating them. They were low and fast, with their blue lights flashing and the intent seemed to be to clear any obstacles. Afterwards there was a hush and no more traffic on the road.

Next came an announcement car, its loudspeaker telling us that there was a small leading group about a minute ahead of the main Peloton. Three silent, determined cyclists soon came into view, bookended by more motorbikes and team cars: how we clapped like mad!

After what seemed less than a minute, the main contingent arrived and we clapped some more. None of them took time to wave to us - I guess they had other things on their minds. After the stragglers quiet returned for a moment, but we walked back to our car, about a mile up the hill, the road was suddenly filled with thousands of amateur cyclists tracing the route of the Tour elite (but not quite so fast).

We immediately drove through Priddy to the top of the Old Bristol Road for our next Tour rendezvous (we could get no farther as the motorcycle cops were there, clearing the road). Soon enough an identical procession but this time I was snapping (below) not clapping.

I tried to get a shot of the TV relay helicopter but it was too far away.

After much reversing in the narrow road and having to avoid millions of cyclist we drove home the Ebbor Gorge/Wookey Hole way and strolled into Wells to see the finish. Sadly we were late by maybe five minutes - we could see the helicopter over the southern bypass as we were entering town.

We consoled ourselves with paninis and tea in Coffee 1.

We're on TV! The two of us captured from our TV screen at the top of the Old Bristol Road (ITV4 programme). This is the kind of thing they do in the Bourne films :-).

Here's a better picture of Clare, from August after her treatment was finished, but while she was still feeling pretty weak.