What things should / could we do linked to the Tour de France coming ?



So a while ago Emma at Culture Vultures asked me what I’d do for a cycling event in Leeds (this was at the point when Yorkshire was bidding and had not yet won the Grand Depart).  I mused for a bit, got a piece of paper out and scribbled down the above set of crazed ideas.  Next Monday Culture Vultures are hosting an event at the Carriageworks where anyone can come along and scribble down their ideas of what they would like to see happen and I’d urge anyone with an interest to get down and get involved.  You can register free for the event here and it should be great fun.  Now there will obviously be all sorts of official shenanigans happening around the tour but anyone who went to the launch might feel that it could be one event for the great and the good and something very different for the rest of us.  However we are the people and we can organise our own fun that can complement and coexist with the official stuff don’t you think?

Now I’m talking about Leeds here as it’s where I live but the tour is coming to Yorkshire and the South East so there is vast potential for lots of event to take place all under the one umbrella (from now through to the Tour and afterwards).  I think the umbrella concept is key here, that way it is not a central control thing but a way for lots and lots of independent events and ideas to be nurtured and supported but linked under one brand or umbrella, central website maybe to log all the details of all the events and to help publicise.  In Leeds at the moment there is definitely stuff bubbling up around this concept and East Street Arts are looking to pull together artistic event under this umbrella and have asked me for some ideas, so my crumpled bit of paper is getting a bit of use at the moment.

So what are my ideas, well the thing is once you start there is no stopping in terms of ideas but here’s some I’ve come up with from the normal to the mad but bringing together lots of things I like around the bike and bike culture and linking to art, literature, photography etc.

First up I’ve come up with a Mission or Vision statement !!! Probably the first and only time I’ve done this in my life.

The aim is to improve the cycling culture of Leeds and the health and happiness of the people who live here helping to make it the best city to cycle in the UK

Go bold I say and think big.  There are lots of links here to Health and Wellbeing, Environment, Economics, Playfulness, Young People etc etc but for me it’s about having fun, making the city I live in better and putting smiles on peoples faces.  Events under the umbrella could cover many areas be that campaigning, culture, sport etc etc and the beauty is that if you have a particular thing you want to see happen then linking everything together will make it greater than the some of it’s parts.

In no particular order some things to think about:

  • Is there going to be a ride the route event (sportive / etape) the day before ?  If not why not seeing as the roads will be shut and thousands of cyclists will be here.
  • In the build up can we have a ‘sky’ type ride in the city.  If we can why not have safe routes and volunteers to help people cycle in to the ride and cycle home again from different areas of the city.
  • Going one big step further how about adopting the Bogota approach and shutting the city centre to traffic on Sundays
  • I’d like a series of talks in the city from authors such as Rob Penn, Will Fotherington, Paul Kimmage, Ned Boulting etc
  • Get the authors of the Copenhagen cycle zine over to pass on some lessons.  Could Leeds ever be like Copenhagen ? (yes I know I’m living in a dream world but just go with me for a moment)
  • Work with bikeability and the schools in the city
  • How about a bike building competition amongst the high schools with the bikes being ridden in to the city centre with pupils and teachers accompanying on bikes.  Could get Yorkshire based frame builders to do master classes and judge entries
  • Yep the Tour is a bike race but cycling has many many different sub sects of racing (including Bromptons – lets get the Brompton world cup race up here) so events to cater for every different style, street riding, bmx, mountain biking etc etc.  I’d love to see the Morvelo City Cross in the city next year for example
  • How about drama on bikes, jousting on bikes (Hey Armouries I’m looking at you), dancing on bikes – all of this goes on now lets have some of it up here
  • Bike polo in Millennium square please
  • The Bomberdrome wall of death, lets have that up here
  • Static bike racing
  • How about a central meeting point to watch the Spring Classics and the big grand tours with Beer, cake and good food (and a place to store bikes) – oh and put them on the big screen in Millennium as well
  • Working with employers on innovative ways to encourage staff to commute.  Chris King (admittedly a bike part manufacturer) in America picks 2 months of the year (usually spring and autumn) and if staff ride to and from work every day during those 2 months they get 2 extra days leave a year
  • Pick a day and then get everyone who commutes to do so in fancy dress
  • Pick a full council meeting and get every councillor to ride from there home to the meeting and back again afterwards
  • There are loads and loads of great bike films from the factual to the fictional, lets have a festival of bike films and get them on.  A Sunday in Hell the night before Paris Roubaix for example
  • Loads of great songs that celebrate cycling.  Have a weekend and get Leeds bands to play at venues across the city all playing bike songs.  I Like Trains covering Tour de France anyone ?
  • Art and photograph exhibitions
  • I’ve got an idea called Leeds Rides – anyone who rides a bike in Leeds takes a picture of them and their bike and uploads it to a central project website.  Exhibition of all photos or get them projected onto buildings in the city during July.  The aim is to show that cyclist are people we are all just fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

and the list could go on and on.

Some of this could and might happen, but if my ideas could be linked to everyone else’s and then pulled together under one banner then just think of the possibilities.  I hope that people get down to the Carriageworks on Monday but I’d also be happy to feed in any ideas or spread the word.  Leave a comment on here or follow/ contact me on Twitter @ianstreet67



10 thoughts on “What things should / could we do linked to the Tour de France coming ?

  1. “Pick a day and then get everyone who commutes to do so in fancy dress.”

    Or make it broader for people to dress up in crazy costumes….choose a very broad theme. Crazy Fools bike parade ride. 🙂

  2. There are some really good ideas here, well done! One branch of cycling that has a lot of potential for activities is the cycle touring scene. Leeds could offer a subsidised campsite for cycle tourists to encourage them to visit the city on their trip, and watch Le Depart. Some cycle tourists are also authors of memoirs, and would likely give talks about their trips. I’d recommend Andrew P. Sykes as one such writer and cycle touring enthusiast – he is on Twitter as @cyclingeurope The crazyguyonabike website hosts cycle touring journals, and is searchable by tour location, so finding advocates for local leisure cycling should be straightforward. Just a few ideas for you. Keep up the great work, and good luck with your plans. Best wishes, Dave

    • Thanks for replying and great idea about the campsite. one of the other ideas I had around visitors was some kind of open house where people here could offer a roof to visiting cyclist during the tour and the build up.

      I reviewed Andrew’s book on this blog,and I’ve actually asked him if he would do a talk (he’s originally from Yorkshire) and he’s up for it so watch this space.

      • There is a global website called hot showers that people offer beds to touring cyclists, may be worth a look?

      • An open house scheme is a really good idea too, like a localised and time-specific version of Warm Showers or Couchsurfing. I hope that your plans work out.

        I reviewed Andrew’s book too! I really enjoyed his sense of humour, and I liked the balance between his on-bike and off-bike exploits. On the other hand, I couldn’t bring myself to finish Josie Dew’s book about her Japan trip – its tone really grated on me. I’ve just started ‘Long Road, Hard Lessons’ by Mark and Sam Swain, which I’m enjoying. What other touring memoirs would you suggest?

  3. @ DTR – I’m no expert on touring books but one I want to read is called Take a Seat about a guy who rode a tandem the length of the Americas and offered a seat to anyone who wanted to ride not matter for how long or short the journey. His only rule, never say no. Saw about it in Boneshaker and looks fantastic

  4. Hi Ian,

    I cycled around the world last year and am in the process of releasing a book – coming very soon. Please see http://www.tombrucecycling.com for more about my trip. I would be delighted to do a talk at this event if it’s something you’re interested in. I live in Sheffield at the moment so have a Yorkshire connection. Let me know if you’re interested.

    Tom Bruce

  5. Pingback: March Diary | Overland from Japan

    • Hi Guys, thanks very much for featuring my post on your blog. Your trip looks amazing, look forward to seeing how you get on. Cheers Ian

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