Saturday, 24 September 2011

Wheels on fire

Last week the Tour of Britain cycle race came to Devon for a day. A sunny day after some of the other stages. I was there on the side of the road watching and waiting for the information car to come through.

When I saw the helicopter overhead I knew they were close, even though it was earlier than expected. Then there are the police and support motorcycles coming through and their sirens blaring at the kids from the primary school. The kids were literally jumping up and down and cheering and laughing.

Suddenly two riders came through. Was this a breakaway? I didn't even clap them, though the kids did. They were ahead of the information and I never did find out who they were.

People in the villages nearby where the race also passed through were out on their picnic chairs. Cars were grabbing spots in local laybys. Flags had been put out along main streets and welcome banners. It could have been France!

Crediton High Street was a sprint location and I can tell you that those guys go very fast. About a dozen of them in a line four minutes or so ahead of the main peleton, so more motorcycles and support vehicles with bikes on top. It's not just the cyclists to watch, all the support vehicles join in tooting and flashing their lights at the kids. The ambulance with its siren too. It is really exciting.

For kids in rural Devon to see this and meet riders ,as Devon County Council had organised, must be tremendous. Something you will never forget.

Mark Cavendish and his teammate were first and second for that stage and a local lad from Plymouth won the King of the Mountain stages on Dartmoor. I think he almost killed himself.

I love the people writing 'Come on Cav' on the road into Crediton, the men in cycling gear riding parts of the route, the family with Norwegian and Devon flags. We are told it brings in money to the local economy, but frankly I am pleased to see so many folk smiling and laughing and clapping.

The French use the Tour to promote French tourism, food and culture. We are catching on fast!

You can see some great photos of the Devon and other stages at

Friday, 9 September 2011

Look and Learn

I used to get a magazine called Look and Learn which was a general knowledge full colour magazine for kids with intellectual pretensions. I did not realise the last part at that time!

Watching the World Athletics from South Korea last week I realised just how much I have learnt about sport, and athletics in particular, in the last two years. I now understand some of the tactics and listen to the commentators in order to learn more. And it does help my enjoyment to understand and appreciate what is going on! Colin Jackson talking about the hurdler Sally Pearson made me watch what she was doing really carefully. Well, the slo-mo repeats.

I know, how nerdy am I?

Last night I watched a Diamond League evening of athletics from Zurich with some of the same athletes. Not all the big stars were there, but there were ones who didn't do well last week or who were left out of their teams and came along to show what they can do. So the British Relay men got around the track and didn't false start or drop the baton or bump into anyone or trip over and came 2nd. Hooray! It is like Michael Johnson says, "Get in the Final and anything can happen"

That's my mantra for life now.

I thought the Brits would win, but a Jamaican ran like he was on fire and took the race for his team. And that team was described as a scratch team-so not even the B team! Those folk are fantastic. They also seem to enjoy winning so much and they are fun to watch. As Mark Lewis-Francis said:
"I got run down by a Jamaican. But I can't complain about that."

The crowd last night were really supporting the athletes as the noise was noticeable even on tv. They were clapping and banging the barriers. The atmosphere must have been wonderful. I ended up exhausted on the sofa!