My Tour de France was camping at the foot of Holme Moss – and what a brilliant time I had.
Yes, I was working but it was great fun to be part of something none of us are ever likely to see again.
I’m no cycling fan and can’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the Tour de France but for me it was all about lapping up the occasion.
I met some great people, not least the Saxton family, who opened their doors to a complete stranger desperate for wifi and electricity to ensure the news got through on time.
My thanks go to Ian, Linda, Paul and Ruth who fed me, watered me (with beer) and powered me (with electricity). Your hospitality made my weekend.
Then there was Dan Thomson and Andy Bunnell on the campsite who put my tent back up after it blew down in a storm even before I arrived.
I met the 40-something Button brothers, from Scholes, who were reunited for a cycle ride up Holme Moss which they first conquered as kids.
Lee’s still in Wooldale but Richard and Martin are way down south. That’s what the Tour did for us – bring families back together.
I met some mad campers – Greg Turner from Staffordshire was the sane one – and a bloke from Cheshire called Peter Hyam.
Peter had the teenage daughters of French family friends with him. Camilla Mathis, 17, and sister Melanie, 15, were over to improve their English, already better than my French.
Instead, though, they learned a new phrase: ‘Ee bah gum.” That was a step forward for Anglo-French relations.
I met Ian Payne and his cycling pals from Doncaster; Dave Trueman who shocked me out of my sleeping bag with his impromptu fireworks display; Rick Bidgood and wife Joan from New Hampshire, USA; and Elliot Haigh, aged seven, who picked up more Tour freebies than you could shake a stick at. Lucky lad.
The Bonkers Award must go to Julian Barrow, of Fartown, who travelled from his home to the Holme Moss summit – on a unicycle.
Yes, a single-wheeled bike. With a 36in wheel. Just amazing.
I followed him on Saturday from Berry Brow and tried to get ahead, pull over and take a video. He out-ran me.
Fortunately he was walking up Holme Moss on Sunday and I got my man at last.
The highlight had to be me getting on a bike again, on the Holme climb, just five minutes before the peloton came up.
I haven’t ridden a bike in anger for 30 years (gulp) and wasn’t keen when businessman John Andrew, who runs Huddersfield-based Direct Golf and Bike-Shed.com, urged me to try out his £2,000 electric bike.
I wasn’t about to make a fool of myself in front of the assembled hordes. Only said hordes (thanks Saxton family and friends) chanted my name until I had the seat lowered and hopped into the saddle.
I cycled (with a little extra help from the battery) uphill and down again. I must have reached speeds of 10mph at least (downhill, brakes applied) until I was told off by route stewards who said cycling was banned because the peloton was nearly here.
I was cheered back in, however, a hero. I now know how Vincenzo Nibali felt.
Will I cycle again anytime soon? Mmm. Maybe not. But it’s true you never forget how to ride a bike, even if I was slightly wobbly.
My Tour legacy will be the friendliness of the people I met. What a fabulous experience.
And even if the Tour does come back to Yorkshire it’ll never be like the first time. And we were there.
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