Bikes in The Park

Tour of Britain16I’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.

The road round Sefton Park is closed to traffic so it looks like something's going to happen soon.

The road round Sefton Park is closed to traffic so it looks like something’s going to happen soon.

Then, sat on the ground clutching my camera, and preceded by a load of police motor cycles and flashing lights something very fast happens.

Like a wind the first four riders flash by.

Like a wind the first four riders flash by.

I suspect one of those might be Bradley Wiggins, the only cyclist I can name other than Lance ‘the cheat’ Armstrong, but who knows?

Then there's a very big wind and the rest of the field flashes by.

Then there’s a very big wind and the rest of the field flashes by.

Followed by spare bikes for everyone.

Followed by spare bikes for everyone.

Then peace returns for about 20 minutes.

Then peace returns for about 20 minutes.

When the return of helicopters suggests the riders have now been to the city centre and back.

Still a leading group of four.

Still a leading group of four.

With a fair gap before the rest.

With a fair gap before the rest.

I cross the park wondering when I'll be tempted on to one of our City Bikes.

I cross the park wondering when I’ll be tempted on to one of our City Bikes.

And wait by the top of Lark Lane.

And wait by the top of Lark Lane.

Everybody's loving this.

Everybody’s loving this.

Round they go again, now in four separate groupings.

Round they go again, now in four separate groupings.

I walk up to by the Ullet Road gates where the bikes leave and enter the park each lap.

I walk up to by the Ullet Road gates where the bikes leave and enter the park each lap.

And back from the city, here they are again.

And back from the city, here they are again.

I can see myself on a City Bike but I'll never do that.

I can see myself on a City Bike but I’ll never do that.

Five laps in, still a leading group of four.

Five laps in, still a leading group of four.

And then the rest.

And then the rest.

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.

Glad to see us all being officially encouraged to get more active.

Glad to see us all being officially encouraged to get more active.

But wondering at the low quality of the food on offer to all us spectators.

But wondering at the low quality of the food on offer to all us spectators.

The only alternative to Burgers being Burgers and Fries. Oh.

The only alternative to Burgers being Burgers and Fries. Oh.

Still it's a beautiful day. And anyway, I've brought my own buttes.

Still it’s a beautiful day. And anyway, I’ve brought my own butties.

So I go to the Bandstand to listen to some music.

So I go to the Bandstand to listen to some music.

It's the Ukulele Orchestra Liverpool.

It’s the ‘Ukulele Club Liverpool’

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.)

Still live music makes for a social atmosphere on such an afternoon. So all was well.

Still live music makes for a social atmosphere on such an afternoon. So all is well.

And I'm still surrounded by bikes.

And I’m still surrounded by bikes.

So I guess a lot of these people were on this morning's ride.

So I guess a lot of these people were on this morning’s ride.

A City Bike is ridden away.

A City Bike is ridden away.

And next up is the funk of 'We the Undersigned'

And next up is the funk of ‘We the Undersigned’

After them I walk home in the low evening sunlight.

Colours bright in the perfect light.

Colours bright in the perfect light.

And autumn coming on.

And autumn coming on.

Whenever this cherry tree in The Park started going red like this I always take it as an official announcement go the change of seasons.

Whenever this cherry tree in The Park starts going red like this I always take it as an official announcement of the change of seasons.

Along Greenbank Lane.

Along Greenbank Lane.

Where even the bikes are going home.

Where even the bikes are going home.

Through Greenbank Park where autumn is also beginning.

Through Greenbank Park where autumn is also beginning.

And along a quiet Sunday evening Smithdown Road.

And along a quiet Sunday evening Smithdown Road.

To home.

To home.

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.

8 thoughts on “Bikes in The Park

  1. Bornagainst

    Absolutely loved the racing today. I was watching along The Strand, rode into town and then walked along to watch from a couple of different points. Such great crowds – even those who didn’t really follow cycling were cheering and getting into it.

    The whole race looked to run very smoothly. A good show from everyone involved I reckon.

    And anything which generates excitement for cycling amongst the public can only have benefits in my opinion. Really heartening to see so many different people riding home…

    Reply
  2. studiotower

    Mitch from Indiana here….It looked like a beautiful day. Your photos are beautiful Ronnie. But I don’t really care for huge bike races myself. We’d have them here in my town but we can’t find bikes big enough. I really would like to hear the ukulele band ( my late dad played one.) The burger wagon looked nice and I wondered if you have fried elephant ears there. That would be a large flat wad of dough fried brown and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, or topped with fruit.

    Reply
  3. stan cotter

    hi ron cycling the finest sport in the world my friend, I wanted to ride out into wales as a youngster but had two problems, I didn’t have a bike and I couldn’t ride one either, I did in the end.
    but thanks so much for these photos ron theyre good, tomorrow theyre all off to Llandudno from knowsley via the Runcorn/widnes bridge.
    do be tempted to try one of those bikes, do it and don’t forget your helmet take care ron

    Reply
  4. John Viggars

    As an ex cyclist I wouldn’t miss the tour for the world Just walking up to the Safari Park now for my second dose. Incidentally the loudest cheers yesterday were for 3 on CityBikes going up Parly St!!

    Reply

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