Yesterday, the world's biggest sporting event (live audience measured in Millions... there's nothing else that comes close) travelled through Cambridgeshire, Essex and into London through the rolling countryside that the Tour organisers call "flat" but actually sap strength with lots of short, punchy little climbs that tempt you into going anaerobic to keep your speed up and which eventually cause you to 'bonk', especially if you forget, as I did, to eat.
I set off from home just before 8, arriving in Finchingfield at about 11.15, just as the tour procession was about to go through, scattering bits of merchandising. I reckon there were 20,000 people in Finchingfield alone. Apparently Saffron Walden was packed to the rafters and the roads were lined with people. Everyone who owed a bike within 20 miles of the course had cycled to the route, and many thousands more had driven, the lanes were lined with cars for miles around. All I wanted was a coke, because I'd ridden 42 miles, I had an empty water bottle and no food, and needed some sugar. My bike and I got separated as the procession came through, and I watched helplessly as the floats squeezed past it. Thankfully, despite it being on the course, leant up against the railings, it wasn't confiscated or crushed by a frenchman driving a float cart. I recovered it, and set about finding somewhere to watch the race, Jersey pockets bulging with haribo and coca cola.
I very kind Farmer had put a trailer next to the route, and when I asked whether I could join them on it, I was asked whether I wanted a beer. Talk about landing on one's feet! A hot dog was subsequently thrust into my grateful hands and the only payment was to pass on my far-from-exhaustive knowledge of cycle-racing.
You can see my trusty steed, and the gang with whom I watched the race.
Once they'd departed, I faced a long, lonely 20 miles or so in the rain, completely forgetting to eat, I started bonking with about 10 miles to go. I arrived home at around 7 o'clock. I sat in the bath eating a sausage roll and haribo. All in all a great day in the saddle, and amazing atmosphere around the course. If the Tour comes back to the UK, and I am sure it will, I highly recommend going to see it.