After the success last year of bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire the organisers decided to launch their own tour of the county in 2015, capitalising on the massive enthusiasm (and crowds) from last year.
So I was extremely pleased when they announced that an inaugural Tour de Yorkshire would take place in May 2015 and what was even better, the last leg of the tour would pass the outskirts of the village in which I live. This would involve the riders climbing the very steep hill from Slaithwaite to the top of Scapegoat Hill, or as we cycling aficionados call it, Cote de Scapegoat Hill.
When I awoke this morning at 6.30am I lay in bed and could hear the rain pounding on one of the windows and my heart sank. What a disappointment it would be for both riders and supporters if the weather was awful, particularly as the weather had been glorious last year for the Tour de France.
The weather forecast was for the rain to pass and by around 1.00pm there should be blue skies but with the possibility of the odd shower, so all was not lost. I sat at home willing the weather to change and by 11.00am it had stopped raining but still with heavy grey skies.
By 12.30 the sky was clearing, we had no more rain and the temperature was quite warm. So I made my way up to Scapegoat Hill, about 250 yards from the summit I found an excellent vantage point to take photographs. The view across the valley was spectacular and I had a good vantage point to see the riders in the distance.
If I am honest I did not expect many people to be out watching the race (given that Scapegoat Hill is not the most accessible of places) but by 1.30 there were several thousand people lining the route to the top of the hill. Whole families had turned out, members of the cycling fraternity and others who had just come to see the spectacle of the race (and possibly a chance to see Sir Bradley Wiggins). Children were dressed in cool cycling t-shirts and flat caps, which was very sartorial.
I was particularly impressed with two gentlemen I came across from Saddleworth Clarion Cycling Club who were holding a Basque flag with the name of the team they were supporting on it and in particular the rider names Sanchez. How the hell these two had got across the border from Lancashire into Yorkshire is beyond me!
At approximately 1.50 the first group of riders appeared and received rapturous applause from the crowds, they had broken away from the peloton and were four minutes ahead of it. Eventually the main peloton appeared, well over a hundred riders slogging their way up the very steep hill (managed to spot Sir Bradley Wiggins safely tucked in to the side of the peloton) and encouraged by the noise of the crowd, it was a compelling sight seeing these riders endure a demanding climb.
In a matter of a couple of minutes it was all over, the peloton had gone and people began to make their way down the hill and on their way home. This final leg had been a massive success in my part of Yorkshire; let us hope there are many more Tour de Yorkshire to come.