Reporter’s Tour de Yorkshire Ride brought Grand Depart goose bumps flooding back

Reporter Jonathan Brown took part in the Tour de Yorkshire Ride on Sunday. Picture by James Hardisty.
Reporter Jonathan Brown took part in the Tour de Yorkshire Ride on Sunday. Picture by James Hardisty.
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Slapping the hoardings of the finish line stretch into Roundhay Park, tens of thousands of cycling fans cheered.

That goose bump-inducing reception was not for the World Tour pin-ups however, it was for some cycling nobodies out to try the Tour for themselves.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was probably having a morning massage when I jumped on my low budget commuter bike along with 5,500 others in the torrential north Leeds rain to the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride startline on Sunday morning.

Drenched before the sportive had even begun, the task of cycling 108km was going to be no mean feat – and I was only doing the medium route.

There was no competition, we just wanted to get through, so I rolled to Arthington and hurtled down Black Hill – a winding climb I’d have to ascend later. Snaking through Pool, I was pedalling for cover.

The relentless rain poured and, until I suddenly realised my brakes had abandoned me in Bingley, all went well. Once the fear in my frozen face had dissipated, we hit Cullingworth where the promise of food was met with cold spuds.

A visit to the on-site mechanic tightened my brakes and we were off. In Haworth we first got a taste of Tour fever with hundreds lining cobbled Main Street as we creeped to the top.

The Cote de Goose Eye climb, near Keighley, soon reared its head, pushing my heart rate to its limit before the temperature rose and the undulating sportive rolled into Addingham, where we stopped for much-needed Yorkshire puddings.

By now the roads were lined, the cow bells were ringing and the road graffiti that had survived the deluge was stunning. Ilkley welcomed us wholeheartedly and practically pushed me up the glorious Cote de Cow and Calf climb.

A speedy descent into Otley was then met with a diversion back over the West Chevin, meaning we missed the Cote de Chevin climb, but a speedy Pool Bank descent then led us back to Black Hill.

Designated a ‘sprint section’ – I can assure you I did anything but sprint up there – a fellow rider told me not to look up. I did. The seemingly never-ending ascent took all my remaining energy.

Again, Tour fans awaiting their heroes, cheered us all through Leeds. I shamelessly shadowed others and coasted to the finish before one last push to the line.

Before the pros even made it a spectacle, the county did itself proud during the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.