I’m no bike rider. Last time I was on one was a rented one without brakes in Amsterdam. Got the wheels stuck in tram rails with a tram coming up behind me. Not good. Time before that was when I was a temporary postman, Christmas 1971. Given those credentials I hereby present my report on the first stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, today in Liverpool.
I hadn’t come to see the bikes at all. Though regular blog reader Stan Cotter had told me about the race my interest in the sport is less than zero, so in the end I come upon it all by accident.
Strolling to Sefton Park for a quiet sit and a read on a sunny Sunday afternoon I begin noticing there are a lot of bikes around. Then I remember Stan’s message and that this morning there’s been an open bike ride for all comers (sponsored by an Australian newspaper owner who employs phone tappers and who’ll get no publicity from me) and that this afternoon it’s the professional’s turn.
Then, sat on the ground clutching my camera, and preceded by a load of police motor cycles and flashing lights something very fast happens.
I suspect one of those might be Bradley Wiggins, the only cyclist I can name other than Lance ‘the cheat’ Armstrong, but who knows?
When the return of helicopters suggests the riders have now been to the city centre and back.
After which I lose interest.
It reminded me of going to see racing cars at the Grand Prix at Aintree in the early 1960s. Seconds of excitement, long periods of waiting, and never quite sure if Jim Clark was in the lead or not. Even then it was better on the television.
I walk away into the park.
With Heartbreak Hotel, Hello Marylou and, rather bravely I think, Toto’s Africa – the sun rising like an empress over the Serengeti and all that. But well done all!
(At first I think they’re playing rather quietly. But then remember that, of course, I’m more than half deaf at the moment. Waiting for an MRI scan on my bunged up sinuses and completely non-functioning left ear.)
After them I walk home in the low evening sunlight.
And I did get to read my book while the bands were on. But it would have been ignorant not to watch the bike racing at least for a bit, wouldn’t it?
Results here if you’re interested.