It’s been a miserable few weeks, due mainly to the lacklustre general election campaign foisted upon us. I managed to either be washing my hair or have an urgent appointment in the middle of a field when the leaders’ debate was on. I don’t think I missed anything.
Yorkshire has been a focus of frenzied political activity. We have a number of parliamentary seats that could go either way, so the leaders of the main parties have worn out their lips from kissing babies and hands from shaking others’ or just slapping others on the back in a matey kind of way. Really, guys, we’re not your mates and lay off our babies.
But before the late-night telebox-watching session on Thursday to see votes counted and recounted and hopefully some well-known faces giving a wry smile as they are gracious in defeat, we’ve had something to bring real smiles to our faces and make our hearts almost burst with pride. It was only a bike race, but it brought more people out onto the streets of our fair county than any politician ever could.
After the success of Le Grand Depart last year when the Tour de France started here in Yorkshire and showed the world what a stunning county we have and how we Tykes know how to give a right rousing welcome, the powers that be decided it was too good to be a one-off. So this weekend saw the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, a three-day cycling event including a women’s race to make the world stop and take notice of our challenging terrain that eats cyclists for breakfast, our stunning scenery, our eclectic cuisine (fish, chips and scraps anyone?) and all-round matter-of-fact Yorkshireness.
It may have been on a smaller scale, there wasn’t the massive publicity machine and wacky, crazy cars handing out freebies that came with the Tour. But the crowds flocked to support in their thousands to cheer on the riders as they came through our towns and countryside. Cycling challenges were re-named to give them a bit of je ne sais quoi, I mean, Cote de Cow and Calf anyone?
As with last year, there was a great deal of cheerfulness and cheering, even when the heavens opened and we got a right dousing of Yorkshire water. The cyclists clearly lapped it up, the cheerfulness, that is, not the Yorkshire water. It made me reet proud to be Yorkshire and reet happy. Maybe instead of elections we should get the politicians to race each other up and down the hills of Yorkshire, winner takes all. I’d vote for that!