so that's where yorkshire is.
you can pretend to be aghast at my ignorance, or you can snigger at my expense, but despite all the hoo ha and northern english joy at having nabbed le tour start for 2014, my geographical ken has not improved one whit. i have had several gracious offers of accommodation for the beginning of july next year should i find myself wishing to be in the vicinity, and already i have begun exploring the ins and outs of acquiring press accreditation should travel be a possibility. i do not harbour any great feelings of optimism on this account, having been comprehensively ignored when the tour came to london, but i suppose it does no harm to try.
but i've never been to yorkshire before; in fact there are a lot of places to which i have never been, and if they're not on the menu, my ignorance of british geography remains intact. the official website informs me that there are a mere matter of 261 days (and a few hours, minutes and seconds) to go before i either find out more about yorkshire, or it remains a vague region somewhere south of the border. do not, however, mistake my ignorance for one of apathy or discrimination; despite a thorough grounding in the art of paul cezanne, i'd no idea either where provence was located in french france earlier this year.
put it down to west coast demeanour and not having paid closer attention to the anecdotes of the mighty dave t.
however, having found the website letour.yorkshire.com, i cannot deny that the slide show atop many of its pages form a rather attractive location for not only a big bike race, but for more personal velocipedinal exploration. the yorkshire dales, north york moors, the wolds, the pennines and a rather pleasant coastline hold much to recommend it to even a less than peripatetic hebridean resident. the existence too of a lot more cycle races than i was previously aware lend substantial credibility to the area's suitability as the start of the world's largest bike race.
it is also, coincidentally, the home of heather dawe, a woman locally renowned as a climber and scrabbler across thumping great hills as evidenced by her book 'adventures in mind: a personal obsession with the mountains'. heather also achieved success as winner of the three peaks cyclocross event in 2008. she lives in otley, a town that finds itself on the route accorded by stage one from leeds to harrogate, and therefore involved in the tour antics pretty much whether she wants to be or not. let's face it, even folks who wouldn't know one end of a bicycle from the other will probably find themselves at the roadside, waving those big green hands at passing bicycle riders.
however, clambering over bumps in the landscape either on foot or on muddied wheels are but two strings to her bow. the existence of the aforementioned book would testify to her ability with a pen (or wordprocessor), but over the past two years, she's also started painting, leading to plans for a second book. "I have recently been inspired by riding the route of the first two days of the Tour next year to paint and write about it. The book is called 'A Bicycle Ride in Yorkshire', and is an illustrated guide to the route of Le Tour Yorkshire. There's about 50 pictures of scenes, landmarks and other places to visit." the accompanying words describe what it's like to cycle the route and her observations along the way.
exhibiting the selfsame sense of independence that brought us adventures in mind, heather is going it alone with this venture, attempting to raise the necessary finance by way of a kickstarter campaign. £4,000 is the amount it will take to produce a small, 100 page hardback book that heather hopes to self-publish by march 2014, all in good time for the grand july depart in yorkshire. there are various illustrative enticements offered in return for your cash money. this article starts with a mock-up of the book's intended cover and is illustrated with a selection of the paintings that will form a part of the book's content.
the style is vaguely reminiscent of the pointillism of george seurat and paul signac from the late 19th century, offering a singular vision of the idyll that forms a grand backdrop to the commencement of racing in north england come summer 2014.
no doubt souvenirs of le tour's visit will be wide and varied, but it seems entirely in keeping with the mantra 'think local' to support and ultimately own one originating from the very region in which it takes place. and remember, it will still be sat on your bookshelf long after that green hand and memories of dirk hofman motor homes have been consigned to history.
surely an artifact that transcends the event that inspired it. pledge like you've never pledged before.
all illustrations copyright heather dawe 2013. reproduced with permission.
wednesday 16th october 2013