The other morning, I received an email from our Tour Leader just back from his holidays modelling corpulent fashion items in Italy.
He admits to carrying a little “puppy fat” but I think he may be referring to the pups of the elephant seal. In times past he would have been melted down and used for lamp oil.
Nevertheless, despite his generous proportions, he has found lycra cycling gear with sufficient tensile strength to support his err.... musculature, and having thus become a cycling icon look to him for mature, pertinent and well reasoned advice on all matters pertaining to cycling.
“It is time,”he announced, “to get cracking with some serious training, as the Tour is almost upon us”. For the ill-informed it would not be unreasonable to suppose that he was referring to Le Tour de France which begins this weekend ....in that far flung French province of err, well Yorkshire. No , that Tour barely got a mention, though he did suggest some Dales roads used by that Tour could be good training for us, not because of the challenging topography, the remarkable panoramas or the clean fresh Pennine air, but of the large numbers of (I quote) “cracking boozers” along route.
Now this is an aspect of the Dales landscape that I had not really noticed before, largely on account of my virtuous lifestyle, but I take my training seriously and although I am currently bicycle free ,we drove over Buttertubs Pass between Hawes and Muker and I thought it was dead easy, though I wouldn’t fancy trying to pedal over it.
We were fortunate enough to arrive at what is styled “opening time” at the Farmers Arms. After a light lunch, washed down with local beverages, we walked through the idyllic wildflower meadows along old stone ‘trods’ to Keld. This is a remote hamlet largely bypassed by the twentieth century, but which this weekend will be home to thousands of campers watching the other Tour as it thunders down Swaledale. I continued my training by lounging around the gardens of the tea room eating slabs of cake.
Wifey and I strolled back down to Muker, before I handed over the keys (just in case my training had been too intense at lunchtime) and drove home via Wensleydale and Wharfedale through polka dot yellow bunting be-decked villages.
They certainly are making a fuss. In all my years I cannot remember ever seeing anything like that when OUR tour is due in town.
I reported back to our leader. He sounded impressed”I’m glad to see that you are at last taking your training seriously” .
Now I just need a bicycle!