Top of the world: Cyclists reach Yorkshire’s summit
WHAT must be one of the finest views in all of Yorkshire lay before those who made the trek up to the top of Holme Moss yesterday.
From our hillside vantage point we could see thousands of spectators crowded at the summit and lining the roads snaking up from the valley.
Stark moorland gave way to the woodlands, reservoirs and patchwork of fields below.
Nestled in the valley lay Holme, Holmbridge and Holmfirth where residents had entered into the spirit, decking out their homes with bunting and the ubiquitous yellow bicycles.
One such bike draped with bulbs of garlic hung outside Andrew’s greengrocers in Holmfirth.
Owner Andrew Bray said: “The atmosphere has been amazing - better than we expected.
“It’s been like Blackpool illuminations with people taking pictures of the bikes on all the shops out of cars.
“If we take anything today it’s a bonus, but we’re here to enjoy it.”
Those lucky enough to live on the route sat on the kerbside outside their homes on dining or garden chairs, soaking up the sights as walkers and cyclists passed.
Some sold food and refreshments in aid of Scout groups or the local church, while others rigged up platforms on scaffolding to get a clear view over the masses soon to descend.
Among them were Brian and Lynn Kilcline, who lived on the route in Holmfirth.
Lynn said: “We were working in Portugal and havce come back specially for the event. We couldn’t miss it.”
Brian added: “I’ve never seen so many smiling faces.”
And there was plenty along the way to raise a smile.
Messages chalked in the road reading ‘Va Va Froome’ and another declaring ‘This is Ed Clancy land. Be nice.’
Members of Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra performed in a bus stop to promote free concerts being staged later that day.
Then there were the many cyclists tackling the climb before the elite racers arrived.
Cycling sheep and cows were greeted with a cacophony of farmyard noises from the hillside crowds, while young riders approaching the summit could be sure of huge applause and rousing cheers of ‘Go on son!’ from those full of admiration for their efforts.
Andrew Wilson and Beth Andrews travelled from Scotland to watch the race and tackle Holme Moss.
Wearing Breton tops and berets, they cycled on a tandem complete with yellow balloons and speakers playing accordion music.
Other rides succumbed to the chants of ‘Wheelie! Wheelie! Wheelie!’ and earned great cheers whether they pulled off the stunt or took a tumble in front of the jovial crowds.
But in the end it all came back to the race and the chance to see world class athletes in action.
Sam Wimpenny had positioned himself behind the barriers right beside the line marking the end of the climb.
“The King of the Mountain point is decided here, which is the main reason,” he said.
“Hopefully we’re going to see some break aways.”
Back on the hillside, the sight of five helicopters swooping over the valley told the crowds that there couldn’t be long to wait.
Soon after a helicopter flew over the crest of the hill as the lead rider rounded the bend to a roar of applause which rolled up towards us.
The clamour continued as the riders poured past with support vehicles not far behind.
Within minutes they had disappeared over the summit and the mass exodus began.
Riders and walkers poured off the hillside and onto the road for the long journey home.
But nobody could question whether the wait and the climb had been worth it.
Paul Gallagher walked from Meltham with members of the Lancashire Walking Group.
“It’s an iconic climb and we wanted a good view of them coming up,” he said.
“It’s certainly lived up to our expectations. We’ve had a great time.”
Amanda Garrard, who lives in Holmfirth, said: “We decided this was the place to watch it really. You don’t get a feel for the atmosphere on TV.
“You can’t imagine what it’s going to be like.”
Her husband, Andrew, added: “Our lad does a lot of mountain bike racing and it’s not quite like this! All the waiting and anticipation - it was fantastic!”