As I was up in the Dales I thought I would take the opportunity of driving part of the route for Day 2 of the tour and in particular the section from Reeth to the top of Buttertubs Pass.
After a quick stop in Reeth and first encounter of the day with amateur cyclists living out their fantasy of riding part of the tour (see first photograph). As they passed they smiled as though to say, “it is hard work but something I have to do” and gave a little victory sign. It was already getting hot by 9.30am so if they were heading for the major climb they were in for a hard days cycling.
After a short visit to the village of Keld (beautiful and well worth a little detour) I headed up the major climb of Buttertubs Pass. The pass is a high road that winds its way north from Simonstone near Hawes towards Thwaite and Muker past 20 metre deep limestone potholes called the Buttertubs. It is said that the name of the potholes came from the times when farmers would rest there on their way to market. During hot weather they would lower the butter they had produced into the potholes to keep it cool.
About half way up the pass I stopped to take some panoramic photographs (see second photograph) to try to get a feel of what the cyclists would face. As I took some photographs a cyclist came past (photograph three) and in a broad Geordie accent shouted “welcome to Buttertubs” as he headed for the summit (I don’t know how old he was but I guess late 40s and all credit that he made it as I later passed him near the summit).
Shortly afterwards came a “professional looking” cyclist with real effort showing on his face but also a kind of steely determination to conquer the climb (photograph four). Just as he was approaching my viewing point a beautiful “vanwall green” E Type jaguar car was making its way down the pass (photograph five).
It did strike me that the tour organisers have been kind to the cyclists as they will cycle south to north over the pass which is a more gradual climb then the other way, but even saying this it will really test the riders and one fears for the sprinters in the peloton, one of whom may well acquire the title of “Lantern Rouge” (last placed rider).
So, here is to two days of brilliant racing (yes, I know there is a leg from Cambridge to London but that doesn’t really count!) and for the riders to experience some of the most beautiful scenery you could find anywhere in the world.
PS If anyone knows who the rider in the fourth photograph is please let me know and I would be happy to send a copy of the photograph to him.