According to Katie Melua there are nine million bicycles in Beijing. And in about a month’s time there will be a heck of a lot in God’s Own County.
For in July the 101st Tour De France hits Yorkshire soil. The first time up North! Cycle fever is growing here by the day for the most famous bike race in the world, covering a total length of over 2000 miles. It is the most gruelling, demanding sport event, and it’s on our doorstep.
With an expected TV audience of more than 3 billion over the two days, it’s a once in a lifetime chance to show off to the world this wonderful county. It ain’t grim up North at all.
Millions of roadside fans will cheer on their 198 heroes as they speed through picturesque villages, through glorious countryside, up and down muscle- aching hills and past bemused sheep.
When I was 9, my Nanna Fay told me a fact that I have never forgotten, Yorkshire has more acres of land than the Bible has letters. There are 3.6 million letters in the New and Old Testaments, 3.8 million acres in Yorkshire. It’s such a massive county. And beautiful, with salt of the earth people, who are generous in spirit. And we can’t wait to show off our heritage.
So, what’s in store for all the fans?
Le Grand Depart
5 July – 190 km, time: 4 hours plus
Leeds to Otley, Skipton, Aysgarth, Reeth, Masham, through Ripon and then a 200-metre sprint finish down The Stray in Harrogate. A fitting finish to Stage One.
6 July – 200 km, time: 4 hours plus
Starting in York and then winding through to the industrial heartlands of South Yorkshire. York to Knaresborough, Bolton Abbey, Haworth, Holmfirth to finish in Sheffield.
The race will raise Yorkshire’s profile in the world. So don’t just look at the race and the cyclists, take a look at the countryside. Yorkshire is blessed with incredible beauty. The French Director of the Tour even called it “‘ow do you say, very sexy.”
To further tempt you to come here, here is a small snapshot of things Yorkshire has brought to the world.
Open All Hours
St Oswald’s Church, Kirk Sandall
Dry Stone Walls
‘As Right as Rain’
The National Parks – The Dales and North Yorkshire Moors
Booze, land of Nod, Wetwang and Wham – all places to visit
The Bronte Sisters
Cat’s eye (road)
The Full Monty
The Flat Cap
The Three Peaks
The City of York
So what are you waiting for? To find out more, go to www.yorkshire.com.
And finally, don’t forget, “You can tell a Yorkshireman – but you can’t tell him much”.
For more on the cycling, go to http://letour.yorkshire.com/stage-1