Ever since the Tour de France rode over this bit of Yorkshire last year, I’ve been holding onto that picture for a Which Way Now/What Next? piece on how the people who sort the sports and the arts in our region follow those two incredible days and the popular festival that sprang out of the fields, the houses, the villages and streets round here.
I kind of knew it was a pointless wait. You can’t. You can’t recreate something that just doesn’t happen once it has happened. The Tour de France, in Yorkshire.
It is great we have the Tour de Yorkshire now, but any other bicycle race that is not as long and arduous is just a bicycle race, even if you say it in french.
It maybe great that we have the Yorkshire Festival now, though I have to say I didn’t really notice it this year among all the great stuff you can go to here.
The yellow (and blue and green and white a polka dot) bikes that sprouted everywhere from walls, houses, fields, bridges have mostly gone now. For me they were the signifier of a festival that no single arts player whether a regional body, a council department, a big funded establishment building, or a local community organisation could possibly recreate, and I am sure they couldn’t recreate it if they called a meeting to try to. All those spontaneous, dispersed, autonomous acts by individuals, households, clubs and businesses along and way back from the route.
The great thing about the cultural festival during the tour was you couldn’t tell what was part of the festival and what just happened.
To take this day-two picture I rode along the route the Tour rode the day before. What was extraordinary apart from the the coloured bikes, the bunting, the scaffolding platforms in front gardens, was the farewells. In every other drive families, friends were hugging goodbye and piling into luggage laden cars. It was like the day after Christmas.
You can’t recreate Christmas.
There is a legacy though for me, something they’ll probably turn into a Come To Yorkshire campaign, and they should do. Though how do you capture that quiet physical thing I get through the tarmac approaching a roundabout I saw the tour whizz through, or pounding this hill the peloton breezed up, a connection, a line on a map, an unseen person pulling the other end of a rope on Alpe d’Huez? I push harder, pull my Geraint Thomas face, and the climb is easier than it would ever be on all the other, unfestivaled roads.