Frame Thissen, Lad … Only 2,276 miles to go!

TdF 2014 Holmfirth TdF tin man crop



And so, it’s almost upon us. A whole weekend of horrible road disruption, blanket media coverage by reporters with not an ounce of topic knowledge, fat blokes (Yes: like me!) inappropriately dressed in lycra (NO! Most definitely NOT me!), and overpriced tat being sold at the side of the road. Yup, the Tour De France 2014 starts … in Yorkshire.

To be fair, I would have liked to have witnessed the event, or even better, have been involved. But by the time I found out that my sometime employer wouldn’t be providing their services (Le Tour have their own body for that purpose – hmmm!), I was precisely 24 hours too late to volunteer as a Tour Maker.

I have a number of friends who live on the route, and Plan B was to park with them, and get myself and my girls roadside. Our own Worm-Wrangler AliM has a ringside seat, for instance. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Dance Show that Darcey is in at the Bradford Playhouse is also on Sunday 6th July – two performances, and with a dress rehearsal on Saturday 5th! D’OH!

As a result, I won’t get to see any of it. However, I did today drive twenty miles of the route (Halifax to Woodhead, over Holme Moss), as I had to pick up DsGran and bring her back here. I have to tell you, Holme village and Holmfirth (top right photo) in particular have gone absolutely TdF mental.

For those who haven’t noticed it yet in the comments, it turns out the “cycleton” sculpture in that photo is being used as a fundraiser.

Here’s a link to the page that will explain all: PrintImp Giving Page.

During the first half of this year, I have also driven a regular commute across another section of Day 2’s route, Stanbury to Oxenhope. One of the most eye-catching symbols of the impending tour has been the Oxenhope Hollywood Project installation, which is what the top left photo is of. On a hillside visible as you come down towards Oxenhope is the 2014 & bike you see in that picture, but what’s made it noteworthy has been the rotating list of phrases built as Hollywood-sign-style boards behind it. YORKSHIRE, LOVE LIFE and ON YER BIKE were all fair enough, but I admit the first time I glanced up at the hillside and saw EAT PIES, I laughed so hard I nearly drove off the road. And when it said DRINK BEER, I immediately went home and succumbed to the power of advertising.   We’ve also had KNIT WOOL, READ THE BOOK, FAIRTRADE, BAKE BUNS and more.

I am grateful to my friend Liz Barker (WorthTheTour) for her help and permission to use John Sargent’s photographs (all rights reserved). There’s a load more pics HERE.

And RR has already done Readers Recommend Songs About Bicycles. Spotify users can still listen to the playlist HERE.

Ach, as I type this, I’m getting more and more cross about the scheduling conflict with Darcey’s show now. Really feel like I’m missing something that, in truth, is to do with a sport I have absolutely no interest in.

EDIT ON SATURDAY 5th JULY – So we went. Had a good day all round, but is this really what we were roadside for SIX HOURS for?!?!?


EDIT ON MONDAY 7th JULY – I think that Saturday question sounds a bit churlish. We were undoubtedly entertained by the atmosphere and bonhomie of our co-spectators, as well as the caravane. Let’s see if I can create a photo gallery …

44 thoughts on “Frame Thissen, Lad … Only 2,276 miles to go!

  1. Ha, ha wonderful!! I know more about cycling than music that’s for sure. I rode what will be Sunday’s 190 odd Km second stage stage last Sunday. It was cold, windy and sometimes wet and Holme Moss was a nightmare, the wind was constantly pushing the bike into the road edge; hard enough coping with the gradient without that. Holme Moss is a Category 2 climb, the second most challenging gradient that riders encounter. The forecast for Sunday is looking blowy and showery so hopefully the best of both worlds: the ability to see the magnificent scenery of Dales and Peaks, and also perhaps see the race blown apart up Holme Moss as the wind will likely cause massive problems at racing pace. The thing that may surprise people unfamiliar with the area, is the steepness of the climbs around and in the city of Sheffield; wall-like nastiness in High Bradfield as you enter the city precincts; the leg grinding Jawbone Hill In Oughtibridge, which is steeper than HM in parts; and well within the city itself, Jenkin Road which has a short, killer section that is 33% (i in 3 in old money), has a handrail for pedestrians to assist them and which yours truly chickened out of attempting because my legs were in absolute pieces and I decided against falling off – your feet are locked into the pedals and pulling them out on a big gradient if you can no longer pedal isn’t a goer.The crowds will be massive, and Yorkshire through the efforts of places like Holmfirth and because of the stunning scenery, will show itself off as a great place to come and see and, more importantly, in which to ride a bike. It should make great viewing this weekend. Take a look folks, you won’t be disappointed.

    • Respect, Brendan!

      I’m off out (DsSis’ band practice) in a few mins, but will be back before RR TOFF this evening. By then I’m hoping to have edited in a piece about the Oxenhope Hollywood Project signs, which I hope you had time to notice as you descended from Stanbury.

      • The reality is you (and want to see) very little outside the wheel in front of you or, and particularly when descending, the road immediately in front. I’m looking forward to getting a good look at the scenery through which I’ve done a lot of riding, much of it will be a first! I’ll definitely look out for your signs, I’m sure that the TV coverage will include a lot of this kind of ‘colour’

      • Still on my phone, so no ATL edits yet, but if you remember from your ride:

        After you left Haworth, you rode a lane uphill towards Stanbury. But right at the village sign (& 200 yds before my friend’s glorious barn conversion – #jealous) you take a left instead over the reservoir and immediately up a really nasty incline.
        Once you reach the crest, it’s a long descent to the bottom and a narrow, blind left-hand bend, which demands the driver/rider’s full attention.

        If you had had the chance to look up onto the hillside on your right, you’d have seen the 2014 sign in the thread header pic above. With that logo, over the last few months, have been a succession of grin-inducing “Hollywood”-style signs.

        I’m going to edit them in later.

  2. Sorry you can’t make it, Rich.

    I took a very similar photo of that skeleton outside the Chinese in Holmfirth (and put it on FB). Made me laugh. Yes, it is all a bit bonkers down the A616, I’m praying to whoever will listen that Sam isn’t ill that weekend, as it will be a nightmare to get to the hospital in Halifax.

    The Tour de France is one of the very few sporting events that interest me, probably because I used to cycle (whereas I suck at any other ‘sport’).

    Apart from that, each end of my road joins the A616 and at one end there is a pub: not a very good pub but even there they have cleared up the outside, fixed a yellow bicycle on the wall and arranged a hog-roast. They might even have beer. Not sure what they’re going to do about the smell of dope wafting through from the garden at the back, but I doubt whether anyone will care. I may go down there to watch on Sunday, or I may go and watch from the other end where it (should) be quieter!

    I have one possible lodger on Saturday night, if anyone else wants a stop-over, let me know (though you may have to sleep on the floor). Come to that, if anyone fancies joining me on the day, email me at the earworm@tincanland address or message me on FB. The A616 is shut from 7.30am but the little local roads should be open. Kirklees Council is really making an effort, and it’s nice to see locals getting into the spirit too, enthusiasm doesn’t seem to happen around here very often.

    Here, it ain’t going to be half as exciting as Holme Moss but you can probably see that on the TV, later? Here’s Hawkwind in the meantime, and Silver Machine (apparently about a bike?)

    • Enjoy the day Ali, I think your point about the interest generated around the event is the key one, there should be a great atmosphere. I would certainly have joined you for a chat and a shout were my plans not firm, but thanks for the open invitation. Who knows, Smight fire you up to get back on your bike, we could do a few miles together!

  3. Way back in – er – 1993? the Tour de France came to Hampshire, during my previous stint in the county. I lived in Southampton at the time, was a postgrad student, and the only wheels I owned were on the elderly 5 speed ladies* sports touring bike that I’d bought in Hull (tenuous link back to Yorkshire). I took a day off college and rode to Winchester, totally ignoring the fact that I didn’t know the way (I followed road signs; the non-motorway traffic route was a horrible dual carriageway with roadworks).

    I arrived in good time, locked up my scruffy bike, and found a place in the crowds along the route…

    … at the bottom of a hill.

    (Hampshire has hills, too – although I am reasonably certain – having experienced them on foot – that Sheffield’s are steeper).

    The Tour came down the hill. Very fast. All together (it seemed).

    I bought a T-shirt** from the entourage. Then I bought a map, and cycled home via a much more pleasant (on-road) route.

    I tried watching the TV footage. It didn’t really do much for me. (I think that was the first and last time I have deliberately watched sport on television.) But I am realy glad that I did cycle to Winchester to see a bunch of cyclists whizz by.

    *Being a standardish ladies bike, it was, technically, too small for me but I think I had installed the extra height seat post by then.

    ** The T-shirt did not contain lycra. I think my socks might have had lycra in them, but that would have been pretty much it on the lycra-front.

    • I think it’s only men in lycra who are considered beyond the pale. Women in lycra, well it tends to work for me.

      • Join a club Ali, one with designated rides for beginners. Getting out in a group should help with motivation and sense of security and, therefore, help you to get your legs far more quickly.

  4. We’re off on a short holiday tomorrow, so I’ll be trying to wrangle a bit of time at the weekend to watch it on German Eurosport – though since I’ll certainly be dragged round to our neighbours on Friday evening to cheer for Germany in the quarter final, I may not get a pass…

    • But I will be taking my lycra out with me and hoping to get some cycling in on the rather vicious little hills in our area of the Bavarian Forest.

  5. I lived in Sheffield for 10 years so I’m keen to se the route that the tour takes, but the website isn’t opening, maybe too much traffic, I’ll try again later. Back then I was a serious cyclist, I did quite a few rides out through Derbyshire and on three occasions I rode from Kent to Sheffield, twice in a single day and another ride was to Liverpool.
    I had a Dawes that I bought with my newspaper round money, 23 quid.

  6. HEY, we made it!

    DsSis didn’t even get out of bed until well after 9am.

    But DsMam promised to cover Darcey show rehearsal duties, and even packed us up a coolbag of butties, so we decided to try.

    DsSis did an excellent (first time) job of navigating us down the country lanes around / avoiding Knaresborough, and after a bit of gentle persuasion with a very helpful steward, me & eldest daughter are now sat at the side of the A61 on a big, straight, uphill section of the road. I’m parked less than 200yds away, with the blessing of a resident who’s invited us to “mind” their picnic table and chairs until they come back in 90 mins time. Glorious sunshine even.

    If this is our luck turning, I’d better do the lottery on the way home!!!


    More later …

    • Hooray! Glad you made it. All is madness here, Honley has street fair / beer festival and there’s even a latte van on our road (LATTE?? Where’s the beer??) (apparently the local cycling clubs are going through later today). It’s a great atmosphere, hope you enjoy.

  7. Video of our day edited in, folks.

    So what did you all think? Has it made anyone reconsider their plans for tomorrow or Monday?

    Cheers, all.

    • Hope you enjoyed your day buddy and thanks for the clip. I watched the first hour or so and the last 20km on the box, the atmosphere must have been terrific, crowds seemed to be five deep in places, and it is difficult not to be impressed by the way this event has captured imaginations. My great hero Jens Voigt (now 42 years old) featured in the first break so I much enjoyed that. I was pretty fearful of a crash at the end, as yesterday’s course was fairly benign and even with only a dozen Km to go, they were not racing hard, so there was always going to be a lot of riders jostling for position at the race end. Cavendish is a real street fighter, and was very much the author of his own mishap; it was lucky that relatively few came down with him. Just got in after riding and I felt the wind, which is, I think, likely to be appreciable on the open stretches. So today’s racing is going to be really challenging and painful and a much better watch than yesterday I believe. I’m with Jess, not waiting around for hours for a few seconds of coloured blur, but we’ve got a house full of people and have fattened a calf. Thanks again.

    • My friend and I watched today from the end of my road, it was a nice atmosphere and sunny / friendly. Avoided the pub but took some seats and a beer or two; I’ll spare you the photos because they look remarkably similar to all the others. I enjoyed it, chatted to some of the neighbours and the only annoying thing was that I forgot to record it on TV (I would have liked to see Honley from the air).

      • That was one of the problems with the coverage being on ITV. The ad breaks meant we completely missed the section between the flats before your road and the Texaco garage at the other end. Another ad break also cruelly denied us the peloton taking the hairpin left from the bottom of Holme Moss back onto Woodhead.

        Unfortunately I also forgot to record the live footage until well after Haworth, so didn’t see them ride over the Stanbury reservoir or past the Oxenhope Hollywood signs I wrote about above.

        Did they show any of that? Gordon? Anyone?

  8. Here in California it’s on tape delay, we have 2 hours of coverage about 8 hours from now, i’ve set it to record. Yesterday we saw the Harrogate episode. I’m looking forward to seeing Sheffield as a backdrop, from where I lived [Walkley] we looked down the valley at the stretch where they’ll be entering Sheffield, know it well.

  9. I’ll try to post a comment again…..

    We made it out to the route today, to the top of the Cote de Greetland at Ainley Top (Junction 24 M62). Amazed at the size of the whole show before and after the cyclists. and SIX helicopters in the sky….

    • And we saw more of the cyclists than in Darceysdad’s video. There was a breakaway group a couple of minutes ahead of the pelaton and quite a few stragglers behind.

      Traffic and crowds weren’t too bad and we only had to walk about 15 mins from car to roadside position.

      Now to keep watching the next three weeks on TV

  10. Final thoughts

    1 It almost feels like the race is over, now it has left here, it’ll take me a day or two to re-focus.

    2 My suggestion that the wind would be troublesome up Holme Moss overlooked, the zillion people who provided a windbreak for the riders. Froome is reported to have had goosebumps riding up there, such was the number of people and their enthusiasm. Brilliant, brilliant weekend.

    • I had to laugh at the contrast between the reported 60,000 people on the uphill side of Holme Moss, and the six people on the downhill side (OK, there was a small knot of folks at the farm field entrance right at the bottom of the hill, but you know what I mean).

  11. Re Holme Moss, and, for that matter, Buttertubs on the Saturday:

    Am I just getting old and cranky, or was that spectator behaviour normal?

    If I was a competitor in any other sport, and the crowd encroached onto my playing area to that extent, I’d have punched them hard in the face and screamed at the stewards to start doing their f@@kin’ jobs!

    I don’t watch the TdF normally: does that sort of spectator crowding happen in France?

    Are there the same sort of stoppages, when the riders come to a complete stop because of bottle-necking? Seemed very odd to me.

    • Yes it does, at least in the mountain stages (Alp d’Huez etc). It can make for a great atmosphere, but it’s dangerous for the riders and they DON’T appreciate being patted and pushed. Also, last year there was a bloody great pile-up with many riders injured when the OGE team bus got stuck on the finishing line (you couldn’t make it up).

      I am jealous, jealous, jealous, stuck ‘ere in front of the telly. I had plans to be cheering the lads on from the roadside on the penultimate stage of the Tour this year – my folks live very near to Périgueux, plus it’s contre-la-montre so you actually KNOW who’s riding past – but those plans had to be ditched, sigh. C’est la vie (said the old folks)…

  12. Yes, what you saw is common not only in France, but Spain and Italy as well. One problem with the weekend was that on neither day did they race hard, even yesterday, there was no real intent from the Peloton until around the 90 KM mark, which meant that there were big groups going up narrow climbs, and through bottlenecks, whereas more guys would likely have been shelled out had they raced hard from flag-fall. Moreover, a lot of the problems for the riders came out on un-barriered flat roads where people were encroaching and taking photographs seemingly oblivious to the speed at which these guys ride and approach. There were some angry exchanges, but given the lack of cycling culture in this country I thought it was all okay and generally there was the upmost respect shown. There were scarcely any crashes either which is in stark contrast to last year’s Tour and the recent Giro d’Italia which was carnage.The spectator behaviour on the climbs is all part of the thrills and entertainment, as you’ll see if you stay with the race for its duration. Cheers.

    • Much better answer than mine (it’s just taken me 10 mins to log in and be able to post a reply)!
      I am a tetchy, bad tempered old lady who wishes people would actually just LOOK at what’s going on around them, rather than peering through a viewfinder the whole time (I’m prepared to allow exceptions, Rich 😉
      It distorts the distance, and they don’t realise the riders are already upon them.

      Off to see if Eurosport has already started coverage, they’re passing my old neck of the woods today.
      Essex Girl

      • No worries, Debby. My footage was taken with our regular camera on video mode, so I managed to watch the riders “live” as well as keeping an eye on the viewfinder screen to make sure I was holding it steady.

        And boy, did I appreciate the speed!? Even though it was obvious that they weren’t riding that hard past us, you really do get a feel that the peloton is not a collection of individuals, it is a huge, single, amorphous entity, seething with a massive [and potentially VERY destructive] force.
        From that POV, I’m actually glad that they rode past us together. With hindsight, I reckon that’s made a much more powerful impression on me in six seconds than a strung-out line would have done in sixty.

  13. Love the pix you’ve added, Rich, thanks for sharing! (Am now absolutely GUTTED that I can’t get down to France :-() Did you get any Yorkshire Thé from the Caravan?

    • No, we were spectacularly bad at catching thrown freebies, and didn’t see any mobile catering.

      I don’t drink tea anyway. Got a double-strength coffee from a McD’s 400 yds up the hill on the roundabout (and used their toilet whilst I was at it), so that was another bonus for where we were positioned.

  14. I inadvertantly caught some of the race on the tube yesterday – they had it on in the bar i nipped into after work. I waved to DsD and Ali and Brendan if anyone was out there, but what i really noticed was the landscape – what an absolutely beautiful part of the country you live in. Being yank tv, the race footage was cut with clips of different parts of Yorkshire.

    • I’m waving back, though it’s a bit late.
      Yep, most of Yorkshire is pretty spectacular although there are (naturally) some grotty bits too.

    • Teresa,
      Thanks for your post – it’s great when we manage to reach out beyond our hardcore regulars.
      I promise you I’ll edit the thread tomorrow, but please excuse me, I’m too tired tonight.

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