20 June 2012

Flaming cyclists: Following the torch on 150 bikes

So, yesterday evening when the Olympic torch came through York, locals saw something they’re unlikely ever to see again in their lifetime: me wearing a cycle helmet on a British road.

It was all because I was part of the 150-200 strong cycling entourage that escorted the Cigarette Lighter into town. The regulations, enforced by the LOCOG lackeys, demanded a lid. I couldn’t be bothered to kick up a fuss, not that anyone would have noticed.

But, know this, H&S Nazis! I wore my helmet with the straps undone, meaning it would have been of virtually NO use in the vanishingly unlikely event of an accident! HAH!

Much like a correctly-strapped-up helmet, then.

Anyway, those of us on the list gathered at York College (top right), down south by the ring road, and registrated in order to garner the free red tee-shirt (right).

We set off as instructed en masse, perhaps half an hour before the torch was going to come anywhere near the city boundaries, and ambled past the families lining a sunny Tadcaster Road (right).

It was a pleasant change from the Elephant and Castle, being cheered instead of being told I should pay road tax, and having union flags waved at me instead of taxi driver’s fists.

En route to Micklegate, we had a couple of twenty-minute waits while people with hi-vis jackets and mobile phones discussed the next photo-opportunity (right). Noisy corporate battlebuses in Samsung and Coca-Cola and bank company livery rolled past. But it was sunny and warm and we were all in a good mood so nobody minded.

Eventually the torch came by, jogged along by a blonde lass, a little swamped by the din of outriders and escort vehicles, and went through Micklegate into a town centre circuit shut off to traffic.

So the bike pack trundled over to York Racecourse, which was the venue for a rather splendid early-evening event (right) with special bike parking too. Thousands of people were there to enjoy free music from the big stage, and exorbitant lager from the bars. It’s fine Katy B being fizzy, frothy and short, but not the beer.

Eventually the torch re-emerged, on horseback, held aloft by someone who used to be Harvey Smith. The old boy was looking his age a bit, but hats off to him for doing the business, and no, he didn’t do a Harvey Smith.

Though, actually, he kept his hard hat on while he ceremonially lit the big central flame on stage; hmm, had he, too, been got to by the helmet enforcers?

Well, it was a nice day, we met some pleasant fellow cyclists, got free entertainment, took part in a bit of fun, and I’m another t-shirt to the good. About time. I really should stop wearing the one I also use to wipe my chain with...


  1. Shame on you for having anything to do with the swamp of corruption that is the Olympic Games.

  2. I'm sorry you feel that way, abikerideaday. But cheer up! I've put up a nice video from the evening's ride on YouTube!
    See video

    1. I always like to see cyclists out having fun; now if you could just have dumped the Olympic Torch in the River Ouse.......

  3. Your comment re the Olympic movement is unfortunately so true! If you thought it was just FIFA that were questionable you are wrong!