Cycling has become HUGE in Great Britain over the last few years.
We have traditionally lagged far behind our bike-loving European neighbours, but this is all changing. Thanks to heavy investment in British sport in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, Team GB racked up a total of 12 cycling medals, 8 of them gold, and this seems to have captured the nation’s enthusiasm for two-wheeled transport.
Great Britain now has nearly 15,000 miles of National Cycle Routes, and new cycle lanes are popping up in towns and cities all the time. In London you’ll find the infamous pay-as-you-ride ‘Boris bikes’ all over the city, and I even recently spotted some fold-up Brompton bikes available to hire at Stratford-upon-Avon’s new(ish) Parkway station.
When the Grand Départ of the recent Tour de France was staged in the North of England, the organisers said they had never seen anything like it: crowds in their hundreds of thousands lined the streets, cheering and supporting the athletes as they navigated Yorkshire’s gruelling peaks.
Though not one of the ‘Grand Tours’, the Tour of Britain is an event rapidly gaining in popularity. This year, Stage 4 of the Tour started in Worcester. It wound its way through the Cotswolds hills, passing through Broadway, Snowshill, Stanway and Winchcombe, ascending the steep slope of Cleeve Hill, and then descending into Cheltenham. From there, the tour continued towards the stage finish line in Bristol – a total stage distance of 185km.
Sadly neither Tom nor I were able to take the time off work to cheer the cyclists on, though we caught up with the highlights on TV and it looked absolutely brilliant! But, our friend Chris – himself a keen cyclist – works at Hartwell & Co Fencing in Chipping Campden and was able to take an early lunch to pop over to Snowshill and take some photos for our blog. Thanks Chris!