The peloton speeds through town
I am trying not to be a party pooper about the Tour de France, which is about to whizz through the centre of my town (I mean, Cambridge). I was, I confess, a bit of an old curmudgeon about the 2012 Olympics and was proved wrong overall -- except in the case of the "legacy" (like where's that?).
But I have to admit that, while I can see the immense popular enthusiasm for the sport of cycling,I just dont get it. And the more I hear on the radio about how the "number one" is protected by his "domestiques", with his "soigneurs", so that he can finally make a break and get the "maillot jaune", the more I get switched off (useful glossary here). I may have got it terribly wrong, but it seems to me like some sort of exploitation in which most of the riders set out with no chance of winning, just to keep the cross wind off their king bee and get him the prize.
And it is the KING bee, and it is HIM.. There hasn't been a women's Tour for years.
Cambridge meanwhile is in shutdown. The university and its libraries are basically closed, because with half the streets closed no staff can get to work. Schools are shut too (in a regime that threatens to fine parents for taking kids on holiday during term, apparently it's OK to close schools down for a bike race). And a friend of mine, who is 9 months pregnant and lives in the centre of town, has elaborate plans for getting to the maternity hospital, if she goes into labour in the middle of it all.
I suspect some good may come of it. Like some of the potholes on the route have probably been mended to stop the King Bee coming off his saddle (and we ordinary cyclists will be the beneficiaries).
But, by and large, there is a million miles between what is done for the Tour de France types and us elderly ladies on our "sit up and beg"s. Take what has just happened at Cambridge station (after lengthy "consultation" I admit). A load of double decker cycle racks have been installed, which vastly increase the available bike space there. The only trouble is that you need a bike of the slimness of Wiggo's and the strength of a 20 year old bloke just to get your bike onto the upper level (I counted 45 out of 50 men's bikes there the other day... tells you something, and not just how many more men then women park at the station).
And even if you try to use the lower level (space would be a fine thing), it ruins any wicker bike-basket, and you are almost guaranteed to hit your head on the upper level as you try to lock the damn thing up. (I say this after a couple weeks of perseverance, and bumped head.)
So for me, this shutdown would only be worth it, if it had a legacy in helping those off us going sedately at 15 mph, with a vast pannier of books, not on a speed machine wearing lycra.
Else we'll get back in our cars. And who wants that?