Friday, 22 March 2013

My Tour of Britain Predicament

With great expectation I've been awaiting the route and dates announcement for the 2013 Tour of Britain.
Last year, I cycled out to meet up with my friend Simon and his wife, after which we cycled out to Merrivale (a Devon stage King of the Mountains segment outside Princetown) and I was rather hopeful that the Tour would again be going past Merrivale this year.

Sadly, that isn't the case at all. The 2013 Tour of Britain's Devon stage, stage 6, starts in Sidmouth and ends at Haytor, on Dartmoor. Also, while last year's Devon stage was over a weekend, this year it is on a Friday.

Now being on a Friday isn't in itself much of a problem - I can simply take a day's leave. The trouble is it takes place on the 20th of September, which is also my daughter's birthday.
As this is outside the school holidays, we'd still need to get kids to school, same as any normal week day. As I sold my car some time ago, we only have my wife's car and she'll be needing it on the day.

Now the end of the Devon stage is at Haytor, which is roughly 29.25 rather hilly miles away from where I live and I can easily cycle out there. Of course, riding out also means avoiding the inevitable gridlock that ensues when thousands of spectators choose to drive to an event and jam the roads full of cars.

If you've ever been to any such event, you'd know there's an awful lot of standing around waiting. As a result, it's a really good idea to carry snacks and drinks with you, thus increasing the weight you carry when cycling there, which means it will take a little longer to get there.

Also, the nearer the finish of a stage, the more people there are and the more people there are, the earlier you have to arrive to get a good spot. I expect people would start waiting from at least 7am onwards and by the time the riders actually finish the stage there will be thousands pressed together, trying to catch a quick glimpse.

I have to admit I don't much like being squeezed from all sides in a crowd like that and besides, it certainly means leaving my bike unattended. And no, in case you were curious, the Dartmoor National Park Authority doesn't install sheffield stands all over the moor, just in case somebody wants to lock their bike up.

That means I realistically should pick a different spot. The first problem with that is simple: Haytor is the part of the Devon stage of the Tour of Britain that is nearest to where I live, which means picking a different spot will be further away, and will take longer to get there.

If it wasn't on my daughter's birthday I could simply have left home at stupid o'clock in the morning, and have cycled to wherever I needed to be. That way I could have arrived early enough to get a good spot.

However, there is simply no way I will not be at home to wish my daughter a happy birthday when we wake her for school in the morning. That simply means the earliest I'd get to the Tour of Britain would probably be from 10h30 onwards.

And before you suggest it, I'm quite convinced my daughter wouldn't believe me if I told her that she actually was born on the 21st! No, even suggesting that might dramatically shorten my life expectancy, so I'll move on rapidly.

I've walked around Merrivale often, and I know the area well. As a result, I knew beforehand where would be a good spot and where wouldn't be. I have no such familiarity with Haytor and the surrounding area, which places me at a distinct disadvantage here.

So I'm open to suggestions: where you YOU think would be a good spot to go and see the Devon stage of the 2013 Tour of Britain?

Here's a zoomable map of the Devon stage: http://www.devontourofbritain.co.uk/race/route/