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 www.BritishCycling.com/