The Tour of Britain has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Some tough stages and headline grabbing climbs, and the tens of thousands lining the streets to watch, have helped propel it to new levels.
As a UK based cycling blogger I suspect that morally (if not legally) I’m obliged to be, as they say, all over it. Most years I am. This year I haven’t watched a single kilometre. Much as I like the sound of Sir Brad doing a comic turn as Chris ‘running man’ Froome, and Ian Stannard doing his Ian Stannard impression by beating all comers in a display that manages to be both brutal and cuddly, I just haven’t got around to caring about it.
There are a number of reasons for this.
The Vuelta Espana, for one.
It’s all I can do to balance family/work/cycling/life under normal conditions, so doing this whilst simultaneously following the narratives of two separate bike races is not going to happen. Something would have to give. Much as I’d like to watch the Tour of Britain, divorce is a costly business, and the Vuelta is a good one this year.
To compound the situation, I have inexplicably started baking my own bread.
As I’m sure you are aware the Dan Lepard method of kneading and proving bread dough requires a fair bit of attention and commitment of an evening. I can just about fit an hour of Vuelta Espana highlights into this delicate schedule but were I to remain in front of the telly for the Tour of Britain highlights which follow, the result would inevitably be a disappointing loaf with a poor rise and a tight crumb structure.
Like divorce, that would not be an acceptable outcome.
There’s also the weather.
As usual here in the north of England the summer has consisted of week after week of irrational faith that the long, hot sunny spell is just around the corner, followed by the dawning realisation here in early September that actually, it’s not. TV coverage of the Tour of Britain will be viewed through camera lenses spotted with rain, featuring pro riders on roads just like the ones I ride, wearing rain capes and arm warmers and being battered by gusting winds.
This is my lot for the next six or seven months (at best).
I’m not sure I want to spend my time watching these conditions being endured competitively before I begin my own amateurish cycling winter. Apart from anything I’ve just returned from France, and am sporting a nice set of tan lines. I’m not too sure about the science behind it, but I’m pretty sure that the more time I spend watching cyclists riding in bad weather the quicker my tan will fade.
Along with these very practical reasons why I cannot follow this year’s Tour of Britain there is another, less logical reason. I get irrationally annoyed by the Frenchification of British bike races. When a British bike race rolls out from George Square in Glasgow it is not, whatever the organisers might tell you, a Grand Depart. A Grand Depart is a French thing, and involves an accent over the ‘e’ of Départ.
Don’t get the wrong idea; apart from the eating of snails I’m in favour of almost all things French, but come on; the Tour de Yorkshire, for goodness sake? The Côte de Buttertubs? A Scottish Grand Départ in the Tour of Britain (or should that be Tour de Britain)?
If the race had started with a ceremonial ‘Grand Day Out’ from Glasgow, through unseasonably and un-British sunny conditions, and the Vuelta had been beset by 16 degree temperatures, sideways rain, and potholed roads, then things might have been different
But as it is, I’m giving it a miss this year.