I took this Friday off work to join my cycling-enthusiast neighbours and their friend on a mission to Cheddar and Wells to watch Stage 6 of the Tour of Britain. We set off from Bristol at 10am and headed along the country lanes where we were joined by several other cyclists en route, so that by the time we arrived into Cheddar we had amassed our own peloton of riders. We stopped at a busy cafe in Cheddar for coffee and cake before making our way up Cheddar Gorge in preparation for the race.
The limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills provided a stunning backdrop to the race as we stood at the side of the road to cheer on the riders.
Once the riders and their entourage of cameramen, police motorcycles, race stewards, support cars, repair vehicles and a ‘broom wagon’ had all eventually passed we joined the thousands of other cycling spectators making our way from Cheddar to Old Bristol Hill for the next viewing point.
This stage of the Tour had been cleverly laid out to allow for three potential viewing locations which trebled the enjoyment for spectators and trebled the supportive cheers for the riders as they attempted to conquer the steep hills of Somerset. But if there’s one thing to make a day better for everybody it’s the sight of a middle aged man sprinting in a mankini.
We shouted and cheered the riders up Old Bristol Hill and shortly after seeing Mankini-Man jogging back down the hill with bright red slap marks on his bum we set off for Wells and the finishing line.
In Wells we joined the party by scrambling up any available wall (or tree) to get a good view of the finishing line. The atmosphere was great as we watched Lars Boom sprint across the line for a relatively simple win (later that evening I saw tv highlights and the terrible crash on the last corner which basically presented him the victory).
From Wells we headed back to Bristol taking on the King of the Mountains climb of Old Bristol Hill and several long flat stretches with killer cross-winds before struggling up Belmont Hill for the final climb back to Clifton. In total we covered 60 miles on a day of great Tour spectating and enjoyable and challenging cycling. I will be back again next year …