Friday, June 03, 2011

Two wheels good

Mr Halford gives Colchester the thumbs up
Last night the Tour of Britain came to town. In my youth this was known as the Milk Race as it was sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board. However, this was abolished in  2002 and the Tour is currently sponsored by Halfords, the bike people.
Milk or no milk, it was the most exciting thing to hit Colchester since the severe winter snap. The town centre was closed to traffic to create a circular route up the High Street, down Head Street, along St John Street and up Queen Street.
The riders headed off at 7pm for an hour of cycling. Usually this timing would have ruled out my seeing it, but our young 'un had a massive unscheduled kip just before bed time, so there was no way he was going to sleep on time. His brother, by contrast, was shattered and practically crawled to bed.
This coincidence meant I was able to walk the five minutes to town with Baby A in his buggy. There was a decent crowd lining the streets on a beautiful, T-shirt wearing evening. (It has to be said that after a crap winter, the summer is shaping up to be lovely - end of long range forecast).
While the ToB as I believe it's called by fans, doesn't quite match the Tour de France as a spectacle, it wasn't half bad. The fact that the 40-50 cyclists were racing round a tight, street circuit, helped. They were whooshing past about every minute once the leaders had lost the peloton, so there was plenty to see.
Mr Halford was there for photo opportunities and various cheerleaders were handing out flags promoting prostate cancer awareness, and inflatable Halfords' hands (I didn't get one of these unfortunately).
There was a cracking sound system on the high street, keeping the crowd buzzed with fast beats (not sure if that is the proper term for the toons. Young people, please help!), and a helpful MC informing us who was doing well. I can't remember any names, apart from one chap from Holland, who was almost obligatorily labelled the Flying Dutchman. Not to be confused with mobile chippy that frequents my old home town - the Frying Dutchman.
Little 'un loved it and was spontaneously applauding the riders as they whizzed by. And after all that excitement, I'd like to say that he was as shattered as his brother and slept like a log.
I'd like to say it, but unfortunately he was his usual screamy, wakeful self, and had me up by 5.30am.
Beside that, a good evening was had by all. Come back to Colchester soon ToB!
Strictly come cycling

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