I was excited (if a little confused – were they lost?) when I heard that a stage of the 2014 Tour de France finished in Sheffield, writes today’s guest Star columnist Tracy Annenberg.
‘It goes over the Strines!’ I squeaked to my husband, visions of me waving the Union Flag on the beautiful road that twists behind the town I grew up in as Chris Froome zooms past. Reality set in when I realised that wouldn’t be feasible.
If the definition of a casual cyclist is having to dust off the cobwebs when you get out the bike then I’m a casual cyclist. I also don’t do hills. One of the many things the two cities I’ve lived in have in common is hills. Lots of hills.
What Wellington does have that Sheffield doesn’t is a flat strip of land, and a road, between those hills and the sea that surrounds it. This road twists and turns around rocky bays and inlets, skirting the harbour and south coast, and evenings and weekends becomes Wellington’s own Grand Depart, playing host to hundreds of cyclists.
Keen, lycra-clad, lithe bodies atop skinny frames and even skinner wheels - the sort who turn inland and climb hills without having to get off their bikes and push – rub shoulders with hi-vis-vested casual (and slower) peddlers on chunkier tyres, some towing children in tiny trailers, others shepherding them on their own two wheels, le maillot jeune of the future.
Even I’m capable of cycling ‘round the bays’. This has nothing to do with the fact that there are several cafes on the route... well, as they’re there, I might as well stop for a coffee. Oh, and don’t those scones look nice? (That would rhyme with stone, not gone, thank you very much). If it’s not a scone, it’s fish and chips, munched sitting on a beach, seagulls squawking in dismay when empty wrappers are binned. Well, you have to maintain energy levels when exercising.
Okay, maybe I’m not as focused as those cyclists in lycra, who turn up those hills whilst I chuck my bike on the back of the car and drive home. I couldn’t cycle The Strines (no cafes…)
Enjoy Le Tour, Sheffield. I’ll be there in spirit, glued to every second of the TV coverage. It will be wonderful to see the city in the global spotlight, even if my vision will be a little blurred as I see those familiar, much loved hills.