And so that was Le Tour de Essex.
ACE, wasn’t it?
Shame the ITV4 highlights decided to fast forward from Cambridge all the way to the outskirts of the Olympic Park.
Plus also a shame that the ITV4 live feed decided to point the camera on the opposite side of the road in Finchingfield, where the Brixton Cycles Co-op lycra wearer was jumping up and down like a nutter and screaming out CHAPEAU! CHAPEAU! CHAPEAU! for the six seconds in which the peloton passed.
ACE, wasn’t it?
We rolled out shortly after 8am. The Garmin was pre-loaded with a bodge of a route from the night before. It wasn’t so much the GPX planning that was my concern; would the crappy Garmin mount actually live up to the description in which it was manufactured?
The answer of course was NO, although it did get us round two thirds of the 100km+ ride before deciding to break yet again.
As ever, there’s little thought in documenting in great detail the geography as to where we rode. I plotted the route in, and then followed the dancing purple arrow.
It was all absolutely LOVELY, especially the look left, look right field of matching purple plant yet again.
Is this an Essex delicacy? Can you eat it?
Wifey reckons that it is broccoli.
I gave it my own sprinkling to help it along its way.
We encountered the Essex Lion en route. I was shit scared as this BEAST of a four-legged figure prowled the centre of particularly deserted Badlands country lane.
I can’t see a chuffing thing when I’m out riding. I’m too cool for school with the cheapo Lidl shades, but I struggle to focus on anything that is 20m ahead.
FUCK, it’s a bloody LION.
I slowly put on the breaks and planned the nearest escape.
Turns out it was an Alsatian of course, but a bloody big beast of one at that. There was no sign of a dog walker, or indeed any civilisation nearby.
The first spectator pelotons started to form just outside of Halstead. The way to travel to Le Tour of course is to cycle. I’m so pleased that we took this decision.
*our* ride became the main event; the big pro boys spunking it for six seconds was an added bonus.
Crap route planning only occurred once. We were supposed to be within the 10km flag of Le Tour destination of Finchingfield. Instead we were stuck out on a chuffing golf course.
I tried my best to trigger off a speed signal riding through some country bumpkin village. All I got was 16mph and a happy smilie face from the digital dude.
Pro Tour riders would be racing through this exact spot at double the pace in less than an hour’s time.
We stopped briefly at Wethersfield to watch Le Caravan TAT pass through. It took BONKERS-NESS to a new level of brilliance. Crappy corporate sponsors pay Le Tour big dosh for the right to ride to drive lorries en route with a laissez faire attitude to sponsorship.
The McCain chips vans got the most laughs. Sadly no free chips were being tossed out to the masses gathering around Wethersfield village green.
Finchingfield was the destination. To reach this we now had to ride down the closed roads and along the route for Le Tour.
It was all fine with the race stewards, and proved to be my own personal highlight of the day.
The roadside crowds were already starting to form two, three deep. ANYONE riding past in lycra got a shout of encouragement.
“BRIXTON CYCLES! BRIXTON CYCLES!”
…came the shout from the kerb.
I looked back and BLIMEY – it was only the boys and girls from back along Stockwell Road making the trip out to the Badlands.
“Are you from Belgium or Germany?”
…asked an Essex boy upon seeing the proud green and yellow livery of Brixton.
Finchingfield itself was a fantastic piss up. This was the view coming from a couple of local females who welcomed us to their village.
They weren’t wrong.
Scaffolding platforms had been put up in front gardens. BOOZE was flowing and the whole village was rocking.
We naturally frowned upon this behaviour and took up a strategic position just outside of the village.
We had to wait an hour or so along the grass verges before the reward. It was all very pleasant. Polite conversations with other folk around us, with phones and tablets streaming the coverage so that we could get an understanding of the positions.
And the big event itself?
Blink and you’ll miss it.
I took the decision the night before not to take any photos of the riders. I have so few memories of the many pro ride events that I have attended. Viewing them through the other end of an SLR lens doesn’t make for longstanding memories.
But for the record: two breakaway riders, a long string of a peloton, a shorter mini peloton behind and then a few stragglers.
It was bloody BRILLIANT.
The relative quietness of your fellow roadside spectators suddenly erupts. The mild-mannered approach of the non-boozing bicycle fans suddenly becomes like a scene from a cycling wild sex orgy.
My lycra was THROBBING.
And that was Le Tour de Essex.
We slowly made our way out of the village. Down in the centre of Finchingfield and it was a complete piss up.
We followed the dancing purple arrow on the Garmin back to base. The mini pelotons of spectators on two wheels started to subside. The Garmin mount bloody broke.
Still – ACE, wasn’t it?