My Grand Depart

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A bit like Alice in Wonderland, I emerged blinking back into the world wondering if the surrealness and madcap antics of the Grand Depart had been real and reflecting back on one of the most incredible experiences.  When Yorkshire won the right to host the depart I was of course hugely excited but after going to the launch event I was worried that we would mess it up as that was a truly dreadful event.  Fortunately everyone involved clearly bucked their ideas up after that and put on a truly stunning Grand Depart.

Running the Yorkshire Festival in the build up was I think key to creating such a great atmosphere as it got all sorts of creative people and enterprises doing stuff linked to the tour who may otherwise never have got involved. The result was a huge range of art and cultural activities across the region, big and small, high art to utter madcap which helped the region raise a collective eyebrow and take an interest in what was coming over the horizon.  The Festival also, in my view, acted as a catalyst to all sorts of other events as communities got well and truly into the spirit of it all.  The result was that countless individual acts, which on their own would have been meaningless, became part of a huge patchwork quilt of yellow, green and polka dot covering the whole of the county.  A perfect example of this was the knitted yellow jersey put on the Black Prince statue in Leeds that had been knitted by 70, 80 and 90 year olds that you can read the lovely story of here.

Thursday night saw the team presentation.  I did not buy a ticket for this in the arena and was pretty miffed that the organisers had taken this approach instead of the normal free show so I decided to use the money that I would have spent on a ticket for a train fare to London on the Monday.  However there was no real need to go to the presentation as the teams did a presentation ride through the city centre, the huge crowds that lined the route giving a flavour of what to expect of the the next few days.  Some of the riders looked a bit bemused by it all but most were smiling, acknowledging the crowds and interacting, with Ion Izagirre high fiving my daughter as he road past.

I took the Friday and Monday off work, determined to soak up the atmosphere and take in as much as I could and of course to see each of the three stages taking place in the UK.  The sun had been shinning all week prior to the start but there were numerous glances at the forecasts as rain was expected on the weekend (which if it had materialised would have certainly changed the whole vibe of the event).  I mooched about on the Friday, took in the Yorkshire bike show and marvelling at the vast media empire that was swinging into action and loving all the different accents I was starting to hear around town.  It was fun catching up on tweets and glimpses of the teams riding around the area, included the lovely touch by Giant-Shimano who organised a tweet up ride in North Leeds.  It’s amazing how the nature of social media has changed the game enabling me to catch up on all that was going on while supping on a pint of Magic Spanner at a pop up bar in the old police cells.

Saturday I wanted to see the start in Leeds, but even though I knew a lot of people would be coming into town I was still taken aback by the sheer volume of people, the whole city centre was heaving and people were standing 5 deep from about 8.30 in the morning.  I was lucky in that an organisation that I know were based right on the bottom of the Headrow in a perfect spot and so I found myself hanging out of the second floor window ready for the start (see photo at the top).  The crackle of noise that swept down with the riders will live with me for a long time, the riders looked pretty startled I thought by the sheer volume of people and noise that greeted the roll out.

Sunday I’d decided to head out as early as possible on the first train to Mytholmroyd and walk up Cragg Vale (the longest continuous climb in England).  There was again a huge sea of people and another fantastic atmosphere as thousands of people walked and cycled up the hill chatting and smiling with the local residents who were getting set up outside their houses, parties getting started and kids selling drinks, home made buns and loom bands on the roadside.  This time I managed to see the breakaway and of course the peloton sweep through treating the long drag as if it was a flat road.

London beckoned on Monday and it was strange really as after the huge party across Yorkshire I arrived in the capital to no visible sign that the tour was going to be in town.  This time I headed out a little bit and was fortunate to see the two strong breakaway on their last legs before the peloton steam through at full tilt, the sprint trains getting organised.  Quite incredible to see the speed at which they were riding.

After each day I watched the stage on the tele and marvelled at how brilliant it all looked.  There is of course a reason that Yorkshire looked so amazingly green as we get a good chunk of rain up here but the rain held off until London, if fact the sun shone brilliantly across the weekend and Yorkshire came out to party.  My abiding memory was that I’ve never seen so many people with a smile on their face and enjoying themselves.  A truly memorable and magic weekend.

 

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Ghost Peloton

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Dance and Cycling are not the most obvious of bedfellows so I was really interested to see what was going to happen at the Ghost Peloton performance, a collaboration between Phoenix Dance Theatre and NVA with around forty volunteer cyclists as part of the Yorkshire Festival, 100 days of cultural activity and performances leading up to the Tour de France.  Anticipation was high for me as I’d been keeping my eye on the idea as soon as it had been announced and was hoping to be one of the riders taking part but alas I had to make do with watching the performance rather that riding in it and totally mesmerising it was too.

I had no idea what to expect and wondered how the volunteer cyclists were going to ‘dance’ but as I thought about it perhaps there are similarities between dance and cycling as after all one of the holy grails of cycling is to achieve ‘flow’ the moment when you, your bike and the environment you are in merge to become one huge grin on your face.  I occasionally get these highs and when they happen they are truly magical.  If you watch a pro peloton the way it moves is like a one whole living organism flowing over the roads, parting and reforming around roundabouts or obstacles and anyone in any doubt about the potential of bikes to flow and dance take a look at flatland bmx star Keelan Phillips in the clip below.  Now I can’t say my dad dancing ever flows but I have no doubt that flow and becoming at one with your surroundings must be an important goal for top dancers.

 

As dusk turned to darkness a solitary rider rode into the arena (which was the old Tetley brewery yard) and I must admit I felt quite emotional as the two thousand people focussed their attentions on one person on a bike, glowing in the darkness.  This was in such stark contrast to the daily existence of many cyclists who are not the centre of attention but are rather pushed to the margins.  I’m a confident rider and ride most days but there are times when it is lonely and scary so to have this feeling turned on it’s head and have people celebrating the bike as the star of the show was a really great feeling.

What followed was an hour or so (I was too bewitched to notice the time) of unadulterated pleasure, an assault on the senses as movement, light and sound played out in a dizzying performance.  That solitary cyclist was soon joined by many more who flowed around the arena, changing pace, splitting up into smaller pods, circling and swooping around.  As they moved their bikes and special suits the riders were wearing changed colours to quite brilliant effect.  The lights could be controlled so that all or certain parts of the rider or bike could be lit up which created some fantastic effects.  At one point one rider went totally yellow (signifying the yellow jersey) and sprinted off on a lap before joining up with the rest of the peloton where as soon as they did the lights changed to match the other riders.  The changes continued and at one point the whole line of riders became the French flag.

It was impossible not to think of Tron as you watched the riders zip around and what would have been brilliant would have been to have had Kraftwerk’s iconic Tour de France song beating out, but even without that the music and beats created a fantastic rhythm to accompany the movement of the riders.

So brightly lit choreographed cyclists mesmerising thousands of people in a disused former brewery yard.  Who’d have thought it?  I understand that the performance is only one part of Ghost Peloton and that this will be combined with dancers and the peloton moving through iconic parts of the Yorkshire Tour de France stages combined into a short film.  Should be well worth watching.

I left the show with two overwhelming emotions, firstly one of real joy to have witnessed something so special and memorable but also one of reflection, wondering if this performance might help to change perceptions of cycling and cyclists as, after all, I don’t want to become part of a real Ghost Peloton.

(Huge thanks to Becka @veggieg3ek and Stuart Petch @thelightoutside for supplying the photos for this post.)

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BikeFestLeeds

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A few months ago I wondered what Leeds might do around the Tour de France and wrote this post which threw out some of my own ideas but also the concept pulling things together under one banner if possible in a non controlling collaborative sort of way.

Well that umbrella is open if people want to be under it and it’s BikeFestLeeds. Yes it’s a Leeds thing but hopefully it will link to and with all the other amazing grassroot and community events that will be organised up and down the country.

In particular though BikeFestLeeds will help to pull together, put on and promote all kinds of great bike theme events large and small and open to all under the headings of cycling, arts, books, film, fashion, food and music. Think of these as the spokes of the BikeFestLeeds wheel like so :

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Culture Vultures pulled interested people together in March at the Wheels on Fire event and lots of people had all sorts of great ideas, not just for the immediate time around the event but this year and for the years after the Tour has gone. This I feel is vital if we want to grasp the unique opportunity to make a difference in the city. What I do know is that if half the stuff talked about that evening comes off then we are in for a right good time.

For my own part East Street Arts kindly met me down the pub and were interested in some of my ideas and along with their own creative heft things are starting to happen as people come together to see what can be done.

BikeFestLeeds is going to officially launch at the Sky Ride on 7 July where there will be all sorts of things going on but the idea is to have things happening from now through to October, linking up with Leeds Light Night then take a break to draw breath before kicking things off for 2014.

During the day at the Sky Ride, BikeFestLeeds will launch with all sorts of things happening including :

  • A marquee hosting an open exhibition where people of all ages can come along and exhibit their customised bikes with a series of awards for categories of bikes ( best in show, best decorated, best customised etc).
  • Chain Reaction Sound System, a pedal powered sound system with a community jukebox of cycling related songs.
  • Citizen Bike this will be is prototype build of a new interactive artwork set to tour Yorkshire in 2014. Lead artist Adam Young asks the question ‘can the people of Leeds beat the professionals? Citizen Bike will invite the public to clock up the official Tour De France distance in three weeks. A live webcam feed will monitor progress and ensure you are able to check in on the action where ever you are.
  • Juliana’s Bike A very special Open Source building project, a bike that is a hostel. Yes a bike you can live in!
  • Bikefest Social There will be a social area within the Marquee where families can bring along their own food & refreshments
  • Bike Snap Exposure Leeds and Leeds College of Art students taking pictures of cyclists throughout the day which will be collated into a live feed in the show room where people can then be provided with a web address to download their snaps.
  • In the evening there will be Blast Theory Rider Spoke which is a real world game of ‘cat and mouse’ for cyclists combining theatre with game play and state of the art technology. Blast Theory are 4 times BAFTA Nominated and internationally acclaimed. This will take place across various venue TBC around Leeds city centre.

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All pretty cool I reckon but there’s more as things have already kicked off with a sing-a-long to Queen at the Adelphi last Sunday and are continuing with the following events and workshops already confimred in 2013 :

  • The Adventures of Don Quixote by Bicycle: Burn the Curtain reveals the kingdom of La Mancha by bicycle, and lives to tell the tale! Travelling on bicycles through the city, actors and audiences take part in the colourful and misguided escapades of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This exciting interactive experience includes custom-designed bikes that even a medieval knight would be proud of. All you need is your own wheels – and a sense of adventure!
  • Pedal Power Chariot Racing: Join the nobel quest to resurrect this ancient sport.  Looking at design, safety, rules of engagement and more in this bespoke introduction to Leeds’ first pedal-drawn chariots.  10 June (2-4pm) contact adam.young@esamail.org.uk to book.
  • A Toolkit for City Cycling: Workshops aimed at building confidence and skills for anyone intrested in cycling for transport in the city.  Learn how to carry out basic maintenance and be more confident riding in traffic.  Led by qualified bike mechanics and nation cycling instructors. 23 and 30 June / 7 July (12-3pm) contact either adam.young@easamail.org.uk or mybikeleeds.wordpress.com or pedallers-arms.org.
  • Seacroft Gala: At the gala there will be a live BMX course and urban art wall promoting alternative local activities for young people in Seacroft.  6 July (12-4pm)
  • Leeds Bike Polo: A start up idea for people interested in something different.  The workshop will look at all things related to getting bike polo up and running in Leeds and will include a teambuilding ride out with bike control sessions ending in a game.  Hopefully new teams will spawn from the workshop and continue the game.  28 June (6pm)  contact tnlcollective@live.co.uk (I’m definitely going to have a go at this one)
  • How to Build a Bike Trailer: Learn how to build a bicycle trailer following an easy to repliacte, low cost and weld-free design.  14 and 28 July (10-4) contact benmilner@gmail.com or pedallers-arms.org
  • CycloGeographic: This will be a series of creative cycle explorations of Leeds in small teams.  You will embark on journesy of adventure and discovery fuelled by prompts and provocations, your escapades will be recorded through pictures and texts and tweets.  20-21 July (11-3) contact adam.young@esamail.org.uk or paulhurley.org or skylabstories.net
  • Zine Making Workshop: Culture Vultures invite you to help create a Wheelie Ace printed commenorative zine in a day.  Photographers, writers, illustrators, storytellers, poets etc are invited to sign up for this workshop.  20 July (10am onwards) contact theculturevulture.co.uk/pedalpower

And there’s more plans:

  • Caravan Cinema: A mobile (caravan) cinema, powered by pedals, showing a range of films.
  • Exhibitions: A series of exhibitions showing a range of artists’ work.
  • Pop-Up Shop: A city centre pop-up shop exhibiting and making available a range of customised bikes and unique merchandise to customise your bike.
  • Guerrilla & Social Activity: The establishment of a new bike club for Leeds – Souleaters BC – based on models of Motorbike Clubs with members’ patches, club ride outs, a Club House and an official member nominated charter.
  • A PechaKucha event (hosted by artist Carla Moss),
  • Wakefield’s Prince Albert pop-up pub serving pints from a bike

and a plethora of social and interactive events springing up as the BikeFestLeeds develops.  Keep your eye on Juliana’s Bike for details of all events detailed above that have been or are being organised at the moment.  Pretty exciting stuff I’d say.

However as brilliant as all of this is, I’m sure that there is more that can be done and events that can come under the BikeFestLeeds umbrella.  So that’s where it gets thrown open, if you are a cycling club would you like to put something on? What about bike shops etc.  Bascially if you’ve got some ideas, would like to organise something under the BikeFestLeeds umbrella or could offer your time to help out at any of the events happening then do get in touch either below the line or via @ianstreet67 on twitter.  Most important of all get involved in the events and have a good time and spread the word of BikeFestLeeds as much as you can (use #BikeFestLeeds)

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

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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

 

Tour de France 2014 Grand Depart Route Launch

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So yesterday saw the launch of the Grand Depart stages of the 2014 Tour de France with the great and good of the city jetting off to Paris for the day before returning for the ‘party’ at the Town Hall.  This of course meant that the crucial stage details were known in the early part of the day and they are as follows:

Stage one, Saturday July 5: Leeds – Harrogate, 190km
The stage will start just outside Leeds Town Hall and feature two King of the Mountains climbs, one of which will be Buttertubs Pass. The race will pass through Harewood, Otley, Ilkley, Skipton, Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn and Ripon. However, the final 70km will be flat and the stage is designed to be a sprint finish. The final 400 metres in Harrogate are straight and flat.

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Stage two, Sunday July 6: York – Sheffield, 200km
The second road stage of the 2014 Tour will be very different from the first and will be loaded with eight climbs in the final 60km – totalling 1400 metres of ascent, and including Holme Moss in the Pennines. The stage will pass through Knaresborough, Silsden, Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Huddersfield and Holmfirth.

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So much of the day was spent working out where I might position myself over the 2 days before heading down to London for Stage 3.  I suspect in fact that much of the next year will be devoted to planning this.  The route looks great for me but I was a bit surprised that it did not take in the East coast and North York Moors with a visit to Whitby for example.  Anyway I’m sure much debate will rage on the routes but they look good to me and I saw something that said they will pass close to 98% of the Yorkshire population.  Once the route launch was over then it was down to the Town Hall to see what was occurring. Typically the weather was more akin to the top of the Stelvio at the start of the Giro then a balmy summer in July but with good hardy humour a big crowd had taken over the headrow in front of the Town Hall and it was great to feel a sense of excitement and buzz about it all.

I could not help but wonder however why this was taking place on a Thursday night and not say on the weekend ?  Also why, although there was a big shindig inside, very little was going on outside that I could make out.  No team stalls represented, no merchandise, no street food, no bands or music, infact basically nothing other than a screen and a PA system that was not particularly audible.  Room for improvement before 2014 I’d say.  Still despite the sub zero temperatures and the snow the spirits of the cycling fans held up well and we were at least rewarded with a cracking firework display.

Leeds gets ready for the Tour

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It’s strange to utter the words “next year the Tour is coming to Leeds” but the reality of that fact hit me when I had a look at the Town Hall this week.  As I mentioned when the winning bid was announced this is going to be brilliant but there are undoubtedly challenges in pulling it off, not least in getting the public at large to understand the magnitude of the race and the volume of people that will be descending on the city and county next year.  Well as can be seen above the Town Hall smack bang in the city centre is currently bedecked in some of the biggest banners you could get (which made me wonder, how do you print banners that big) advertising the fact to the thousands who pass the Victorian structure each day.  The banners are in preparation for Thursday night (17 Jan) when the route is going to be announced and I’ll certainly be going down for that and see what the feeling is like.  Will it just be me and my kids together with the journalists or will there be a serious crowd?  It was for me very frustrating that the cheating American has decided to go on Oprah on the same day and I really hope that his appearance and undoubted column inches does not detract from the launch of the Tour route.  While I was snapping the photos above a car pulled up and discussions started around barriers and such like but I was interested in the livery on the car.  Yes it’s bright but the colour option seemed strange to me, I wonder if the team realise that the Giro colours are pink ?  Having said that, can’t wait for Thursday night, hope the weather is dry and a good show and crowd are there.

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The Tour de France Grand Depart is coming to Leeds !

 

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I was absolutely amazed this morning with the news that my home city Leeds and region Yorkshire had won the rights to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014.  I must admit that I had not held out much hope of success in the bidding process primarily because even if the decision had been made to come to Britain (which was by no means certain) then my money would have been on the joint Scotland, England, Wales bid which had been officially backed by British Cycling.  However clearly something has been done very well in the bidding process so huge congratulations to all involved.  Much I’ve no doubt will be made of the costs involved, how much did we bid and what will be the income from hosting.  I don’t mind this as it should not be forgotten that The Tour would not exist if it was not for commercial concerns, it was after all set up to sell newspapers (L’Equipe) and every team that rolls through Yorkshire in 2014 will be a moving billboard to some company or other.  For those of you who grimaced a bit at the commercial caravan of sponsors that proceeded the Olympic Torch coming through the city prepare yourself as you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The Tour caravan is almost an event in it’s own right.

The Caravan is just one element of the colossal size of the event, I don’t think that the people of the region who do not follow cycling have any understanding just how big The Tour is and I doubt if the region or city will have ever held a bigger sporting event than this.  It is after all the biggest annual sporting event in the world and over a million people will be heading our way to line the streets.  Thousands upon thousands of visitors will come over from Belgium, Holland, France and Scandinavia not to mention those from further afield like Australia and America.  This raises lots of questions for me – the airport link to the city centre being one and where are we going to put all the camper vans for another.  I can understand of course why the powers that be will be rubbing their hands with glee at all this disposal income arriving in the region and it will be great but I wonder about the wider opportunity here.  Will we only focus on the economic benefit in it’s simplest sense or will we use this once in a lifetime opportunity to do something radical.

 

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I cycle most days in this city and the region as a whole and while it has much to offer those of us on two wheels the city itself is not the most cycle friendly, and that’s putting it politely.  Can bringing The Tour here be a catalyst for a re-evaluation of our relationship with the city ?  Back in the 60’s Leeds set out it’s grand vision for the future and it was one of the car and the result was a motorway right through the middle of the city centre and huge interlinking trunk roads dividing up neighbourhoods and cutting many of them off in pockets of isolation and deprivation.  Very little has changed in my view, if you want to traverse the city either on foot or on two wheels then you face a lot of very unhelpful situations – I give you Sheepscar Interchange as just one example.  The road surfaces as well are potholed, poorly  maintained and dangerous.  However there are a large number of people here who cycle regularly and love cycling in all it’s forms – will those organising things look to involve them in what happens now as afterall I was not aware of much involvement during the bidding process.  Cycling also has a large culture around it, it’s not just a sport.  Art, photography, literature and film are thriving offshoots of the cycling world, how are they going to be embraced?  Can the city and the region take a leaf out of London’s books from the Olympics which had both a cultural Olympiad but also harnessed volunteers in a brilliant way as Gamesmakers making a visit there a complete delight.  A high bar was set can we top it ?  I’m not sure where the Etape du Tour is going to be in 2014 but we should make sure that the day before an event is held enabling anyone who wants to to ride the route, you would get 30-40,000 doing it (including me).

Which brings us onto the route which has not yet been announced, and will no doubt be the topic of feverish debate both before and after it’s announced.  Those of us who live here will have lots of ideas of where it should go and no doubt as soon as it is announced villages on the route will see a large influx of lycra clad strava boys and girls laying down their markers.  For me though I’m already wondering where Didi Senft ‘El Diablo’ (below) is going to base himself.

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Picture credit: Reuters

All these questions are for the future and I for one can’t wait to see how things develop.  One thing I would love to see though is the brilliant poster by Mark Fairhurst at the top of this post be used as the official poster.  As soon as I saw it today I thought straight away that’s it, a nod to all the heritage while embracing the Yorkshireness of what will happen in 2014.  I was also thinking today about how we are going to accommodate everyone, perhaps those of us who are cycling fans can set up some sort of open house scheme where we link with a fan from abroad and let them stay for a few days, show them our city and region and hopefully get involved in the full amazing party and celebration that will hopefully be happening ?

So while today’s announcing fills me with unbridled glee I desperately hope that the city and the region grasps the handlebars and promotes and invests in such a way that a lasting legacy is established.  After all the world is invited to one amazing event right here, lets get this party started.