The last few days have been hectic, but I am finally here – ON THE TOUR.
My journey started on Wednesday when some of the team met at the Solihull office of Cure Leukaemia for the coach ride to Denmark. As we sat drinking coffee the Tour21 bus arrived, WOW – what an amazing sight, looking just like a ProTeam bus – The Tour 21 Logo, photos of last years team and a clear message on the windows, RAISING £1,000,000 FOR CURE LEUKAMIA (in English on one side – the other in French). The best bit, along with all the other riders, my name is on the door, one of the team, one of the riders who will be riding for THE TOUR 21 and CURE LEUKAEMIA.
A few media pictures and interview and we were on our way. There is not much to say about about the journey except it was long, we started on Wednesday lunch time, one ferry trip and 735 miles later we were in Lubeck in Germany for an over-night stop. As the journey went on we picked up more members of the team, but even then we weren’t a full team, not until we arrived at the ‘Bella Centre’ in Copenhagen, where for the first time all the riders from the 2022 Tour 21 team were together in one place.
As we amassed in the car park, eating a packed lunch and getting to know each other there was a surprise for me. Out from between the parked cars and buses emerged 5 unexpected travellers. Andy, Mike Hopkins, Brother-in-Law Lee, and friends Loz and Adam, had got up at 1:30am to fly over to Copenhagen to wish us on our way, just for the day – they were flying back that night. It was a great boost for everyone. But there wasn’t much time to talk, ‘Le call from our Ride Captain Andy Cook and we were told to get ready to ride. A quick change into our ride kit and we were ready. Cheered off by the support crew, and our unexpected travellers, our Tour De France started.
The Tour proper will have closed roads, we however will be in amongst all the traffic, stopping at the traffic lights and taking care not to bump in to anything or anyone. I can see why the Tour organisers have chosen Copenhagen to start the tour, a beautiful city with amazing building and a cycle infrastructure that encourages everyone to ride bike. The Bike must outnumber cars 5 to 1 with all ages cycling their way through a bustling city centre, even young children were in on the act, sitting in front on Cargo bikes as Mum, or Dad, ferried them home from school or off on some adventure. The preparations for next weeks tour were everywhere with posters on buildings, boats and shop windows. Even as we rode the short 6 kilometres to the start it was easy to see Copenhagen were welcoming the Tour De France to their city.
Then, Goosebumps , we were at the Start of the Tour De France route – STAGE 1 – COPENHAGEN, a week from today the Tour teams will leave the same spot an ride these very same streets in a time trial, the elite in cycling would line up in the same spot ready to race for the Yellow Jersey. For us it was a group ride, as the Time Trialist will be full on for 16 kilometres we had time to take in the sights of Copenhagen and even had the opportunity for a couple of photo at the Little Mermaid Statue, for Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, and then a team photo at the Queens Palace. As we travelled round the city, our team of intrepid supporters were out again cheering from the roadside, I wish I could have stopped to say hello as they had an addition to the group, Adam’s daughter Emily lives in Copenhagen and had met the others to cheer our team through the city. Emily is studying Nutrition a University and we have talked several times during my training, discussing what is the ideal diet for a Tour cyclist. It was disappointing not to talk to her, Andy sent me a video later of Emily being surprised by Adam (his visit was a surprise for her also). I was told THE TOUR would be full of memories and moments, who knew that so many would come on STAGE 1.
After 16 Kilometres we were at the end, our shortest stage, not the shortest ever for the Tour De France (which was only 1 Kilometre). Over and done our Tour routine started, a ride back to the coach, change in to our off bike kit and we were on our way to the Hotel, I managed a quick call with Andy and the boys to thank them for coming, they were in a restaurant in Copenhagen, sounding a little drunk, getting ready for their flight back. For me a meal and then off to bed, content in the knowledge that at the age of 60 I was a ‘TOUR RIDER’
Tomorrow Stage 2, a ‘slightly’ longer 202 km stage from Roskilde to Nyborg