Watching The Tour de France in Yorkshire: Le Tour Catastrophe

With the Tour de Yorkshire just around the corner once again, and me all the way in Mexico City, I thought what better time to share a recently spruced up old post about watching the Tour de France way back in 2014! Attending sporting events is wildly out of character for me, but something akin to northern pride must have overcome me, and off I trotted with my parents to watch the Tour de France in Yorkshire. Anyway, enough preamble, here’s just how well our little adventure went. Spoiler alert: not that well.


You may or may not have noticed that the Tour de France recently whizzed through Yorkshire. I say you may or may not, but based on the sheer amount of bunting that’s been strung all over the place for weeks on end, you’d have been hard pushed not to. And if that didn’t do it, then surely you thought something was a bit weird about numerous buildings suddenly being covered in red dots. Even so, when I asked, a grand total of 0 people at work said they were planning on watching the Tour de France. Passions run high in Yorkshire, but scepticism and pessimism run higher still.

In a rare change of character, I agreed to WALK with my PARENTS to go and see a SPORTING EVENT. I want to say I’m feeling a bit guilty that I’m soon going to be giddily fleeing the country for a year, but maybe I’m just a masochist. Maybe.

The whole day was bathed in a light glow of patriotic optimism – the sun was shining, I was wearing a new yellow top, I decided rather hopefully to live tweet the whole day (a poor decision based on the fact that getting signal in the Yorkshire Moors is nigh on impossible). The views were admittedly spectacular though; rolling hills, blue skies, hidden streams with rickety bridges. Although the first steep ascent put this exuberant optimism to an end. So did my mum’s constant demand for us to take a selfie together. If ever you needed a definitive sign that the word selfie is dead, it’s my mum’s incessant use of it.

watching the tour de france

Me and my mum, after I finally gave in to her repeated pleading for photographs

What I thought would be a pleasant walk in the sun, turned out to be some sort of ridiculous hike up a hillside and high waisted skinny jeans are just not the trousers of choice for such an adventure. I can barely sit down in them at the best of times, never mind shimmy over a barbed wire fence. My mum was flagging at the back about half an hour in, my dad had his binoculars out to try and find the path he had repeatedly assured us he totally, definitely, certainly had planned. I on the other hand was desperately trying to Snapchat my despair. Great start, really.

Although as the hills grew steeper the day, ironically, began to go rapidly downhill. In fact, I’d pin the beginning of the end as the moment my dad pulled a face that said ‘that path should REALLY have been around about here…’ From then on it was quite literally and uphill (and downhill) struggle.

watching the tour de france

Yorkshire is pretty picturesque to be honest

At this point, the crowds thronging together on Holme Moss to catch a glimpse of a bunch of strangers in lycra riding bikes were in sight. Although only through an iPhone camera zoom and a pair of binoculars. ‘We should probably keep going uphill’, said my dad with all the wisdom of a man who remembers to pack himself a packet of Starburst but forgets to plan a vaguely suitable route. ‘I think we should probably hop over this fence and just head directly towards the crowd’, I rather more sensibly pointed out. But it’s worth pointing out that by this point, the uphill walk was more of a hike up a sheer hillside. Even the sheep thought we were fucking mental and the abundance of snares wasn’t all that comforting. (#privateland lol).

When we finally reached the bottom of the, what turned out to be, marsh land crossed with a thistle field – ‘right to roam!’ bleated my mum and dad repeatedly, ‘right to roam! – I tried to hoik myself over yet another bit of barbed wire only to get stuck straddling it, one side balanced precariously on a rock, the other increasingly more unstable. The only thing I could think about was that the only pair of jeans I’ve ever managed to get in my life that actually fit me were about to be shredded in the pursuit of watching sweaty, lycra clad cyclists battle it out for a yellow t-shirt. And then my hayfever decided to get in on the party.

You know what’s easier than scrambling over a fence in skinnies with snot all over your face? Most things.

watching the tour de france

When we finally reached the road, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a group of strangers in my life. Until I realised that not only was I hear to watch lycra warriors, I was sat in a field with far more middle aged men wearing it head to toe than I’d ever cared to. Seriously, it was indecent.

Was the three hour trek worth it? I want to say yes. But you got some great photos, I hear you say! Yeah, I definitely didn’t spend three hours walking there only to press the wrong button on my camera. (In hindsight, that’s probably for the best. I’m all letour-ed out, thanks to the multiple videos from a slightly-different-angle-slightly-different-place-but-essentially-the-same-fucking-view that are strewn across Instagram). To be totally honest, the best part of the day was getting home and realising my new hideously expensive eyeliner had held up even on my sweaty face and that I had a captivating new sunburn which mysteriously bore the same pattern as the lace top I’d been wearing. Excellent.

watching the tour de france

#neverforget my beautiful long hair

And so, with the passing of the peloton (is that the right word? I really couldn’t give less of a shit about cycling), came the disbanding of the humongous crowds. (For shame, Cambridge turnout, for shame!) And there came the end of Le Tour. Surrounded by folk scarfing down pork pies – or posh venison burgers for the middle class pretenders – even I have to admit it was hard not to feel a smidge of pride for this county of mine. Yorkshire done good. Although by that point, the only thing keeping me going was the idea of eating my pork pie in the bath.

watching the tour de france


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