When they announced that the Tour de France would be in Yorkshire this year we immediately arranged with my brother to stay with him, and were cheeky enough to arrange to stay for more than just the weekend. We decided against a rushed trip on a Friday night in preference of a relaxed drive on the Saturday morning. We arrived before lunch and spent the rest of the day chilling out. An old school friend joined us late afternoon with his wife and we spend a relaxed evening eating and drinking. The school friend is a professional commercial photographer and was interested in the panorama techniques I use as he had a commission that required such photo’s.
We were up early on Sunday as we had an appointment with the Tour de France. We had breakfast and made a picnic and headed out down the hill towards Holmfirth the plan was to dump some food for a late afternoon picnic at ones of K’s friends and then head out to find a spot to to get a good view of the race. In all there was about twenty of us who headed out of Holmfirth on the Honley road, about 50% adults and 50% children. We headed for a field owned by one of my brothers friends. By the time we got the the filed we had probably walked 5 miles so were quite welcome of the chance to sit down and wait for the race. There were lots of people lining the roads at the point we chose.
The anticipation of the race to come was fuelled by the odd official car that would pass through the crowds. Slowly the frequency of cars increased and eventually the caravan publicitaire came past and threw the odd free gift. From that point of view we had chosen the wrong spot perhaps being just outside Honley and Holmfirth the staff were probably told to stop in the towns. There were enough of us to warrant a couple of the tshirt vans to stop for the opportunity to purchase an umbrella and tshirt. We knew that there would not be a three quarters of an hour gap before the race would pass.
We went back the field to eat our picnic the warm weather had made the cheese taste particularly cheesy. Back at the road side the crowds were getting more and more cheery every time a police or official car went past we would move out of the way then some of us would move out into the middle of the road. At one point a Gendarme van very aggressively pushed the crowd further and further back towards the edge of the road. I was surprised that no one got hurt, perhaps it was the same car that knocked someone out further down the road.
Eventually the team cars hurtled pas followed by the red car where the main referees travel, and the neutral service vehicle then quickly followed the race itself. We were all forced back the the edge of the road and the cyclists gesticulated and swore in foreign languages about the lack of road space that they had. It was all over in a moment but well worth the wait. We sat around for a little while and then packed our picnics away and walked back into Holmfirth. As we got into town the heavens opened but luck would have it there was a garage with a gazebo with a TV showing the finish of the race. The rain stopped at about the same time and we headed back to to K’s friends to eat and drink some more.
At about 19:30 we were thinking about leaving when I checked the bus time table on google maps, only to find out a bus was due in 4 minutes. We rushed out and stood at the bus stop, then someone told us that the service we wanted was not running. We started walking home and annoyingly a bus went past where we were 100m from the stop. We were resigned walking home which was not good because it was about and hours walk and involved two steep hills. Luckily after the first smaller of the two hills we came across an friend of K who offered a couple of us a lift home, then I drove down (I had only had one bottle of beer all day) and picked up the rest of the party.
Once home we relaxed with a glass of wine and then slept very well after having walked about 8 miles and been on our feet for most of the 10 hours we had been out and a about. Certainly a day to remember.