Le Tour De France for me is filled with fond memories of my childhood. My Grampy is obsessed with the Tour and as I used to spend a lot of my summers with him and my Grandma, my brother and I would watch the highlights each day with our grandparents trying to tell us the rules for the hundredth time! As I have grown up I have watched the Tour De France with my grandparents, parents and Matt, and I have always wished that one day I will be able to follow the Tour De France around France – so when I learnt it was coming not only to the UK, but to the North I knew we had to go. Matt is a proud Yorkshire man and as he’s from Leeds and studied in York we decided we would make a weekend of it and really make the most of Le Tour Yorkshire.
Le Tour Yorkshire – Day 1 – Leeds
As we knew that most of the city centre roads were closed and we didn’t fancy heading into town at 6 to bag a parking spot. We decided to have a little lie in and get the bus into town. We were surprised to find that the roads and bus were surprisingly quiet at 9.30am – however we soon learnt why – everyone was already in town! We headed to the route the race was going to take and found that there was not only no spaces, but it was atleast 2 deep along the railings. As a short girl I always struggle at any event to see over the top of peoples shoulders, so adamant that we were going to get a good spot we headed further up the route for about a mile. It took a bit of searching but we found a gap at the front, so took our place and waited for the beginning.
As many of the crowd had been waiting for hours (I saw a women on the news who had waited for 7 hours!) there was a parade from the sponsors to keep everyone entertained, which was followed by the teams cars, the police and even the Gendarmerie. All those who drove up the route before the race did a great job of entertaining the crowd – they beeped their horns, wore funny masks,waved flags from their vehicles and drove along giving the spectators high fives. All the cars received cheers from the crowd – however the Sky team cars received the biggest applause.
As we were a mile from the start we relied on the tidal wave of cheers to indicate when the cyclists were arriving. It was great to see the British riders at the front of the pack followed by what seemed like hundreds more. Within a few minutes the cyclists had past and their team cars and vehicles followed for a good ten minutes afterwards. The majority of the crowd stayed until every last coach and straggling cyclist past before the masses headed back into the city centre for an afternoon of food, drink and entertainment. Leeds city centre was very much filled with excitement for the rest of the day.
Le Tour Yorkshire – Day 2 – York
On Day 2 of Le Tour Yorkshire Matt and I risked driving into York city centre and trying to find a parking space. Thankfully the roads were again quiet and we even passed a few of the teams on their way into the city. We found a parking space outside of the city walls and walked about a mile into the city to a spot very close to Betty’s Tea Room. We arrived a little later than we had in Leeds as we weren’t so fussed about being right at the front. Thankfully we picked a spot were I could climb on the railings and temporarily grow enough inches so I could see over everyone’s heads!
The crowd in York were a lot more civilised than Leeds – Leeds was filled with people climbing anything they could to get a better view – it became quite comical to see what people were using as an advantage – traffic lights included! York however were no less excited – every car got a cheer, the police received some of the loudest cheers. Everytime the “Eye in the Sky” flew over us everyone cheered and waved.
As in Leeds we relied upon the wave of cheers to indicate that the race was here. Thankfully where we were stood there was a rather sharp corner so the cyclists had to slow down to go past us. This time we didn’t stay to watch the team cars, instead we headed down the road to The Judge’s Lodging for drinks and lunch (full review coming next week).
After a very tasty lunch we went for a wander around the city centre to take in the buzz, excitement and fun-filled atmosphere that Le Tour Yorkshire had created. It’s fantastic to see that each village, town and city in Yorkshire had really embraced the Grande Depart and decorated their streets and shop windows, created drinks dishes and specials that related to the Tour, had pop up shops and gallery’s filled with art and had even spray painted some sheep along the route yellow! On our walk we stopped at a little sweet shop to pick up some treats for our car journey back west.
Overall Yorkshire definitely showed the world that the North really do it the best! Everyone really got behind the event – whether they knew what was going on or not! It is reported that this was the biggest ever attendance for a Grand Depart. Approximately 4 million people turned up to view the Grand Depart along the whole route in the past two days which is an unprecedented turnout. It was fantastic to see Yorkshire so alive and buzzing with excitement. Even just seeing people out and about, enjoying and making the most of their village, town or city. Lets hope this sparks some life back into the North and people realised how fantastic the area they live in actually is!