With the 2019 World Championships visiting Yorkshire, five of our members took the opportunity to arrange a trip to Harrogate to take in the last two days of racing. Unfortunately, a conspiracy between Ryanair and the Passport Office meant we were a man down before departing the Barony of Iveagh, leaving one rocket stuck on the launchpad so to speak. So Davey Cartmill, Pete Batey, John Davison and Tim Dodds set off for Dublin Airport and a flight to the north of England. With the weather bringing enough rain to fill Spelga twice over, the tourists sought refuge upon arriving in Harrogate, fortunately happening upon the welcome offered by the local JD Wetherspoons.
Spoons more than covered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ticking off shelter, food, warmth, and throwing in cheap ale and continuous racing on the big screen to keep an eager cycling crowd entertained until the peloton entered town. Chairman Dave was particularly pleased to discover unlimited refills on coffee. When the racing hit the streets of Harrogate, the crowd made its way outside.
Annemiek van Vleuten’s monumental solo effort in the ladies elite road race thrilled the fans lining the road. Unbeknownst to them, there was another heroic effort taking place in a bed shop window on the other side of the crowd barriers. The prize of a new mattress, and more significantly a spot at the top of the leaderboard was the only motivation JD needed to go beyond the efforts of every other visitor to the bed shop that day. Time and again he climbed back onto the rollapalooza bike to try and claim first place.
Van Vleuten cruised to a comfortable win, but Davison had to settle for third, not quite beating Rio Olympic gold medalist Callum Skinner whose days as a mattress salesman have obviously blunted his ability on a bike.
With racing done and with some self confessed beer aficionados in our group, a quick stop in the Vanishing Chin was called for with two of our group opting for one of the more unusual beer – a 13% marshmallow flavoured stout. Our tour party retired to our lodgings for the evening enjoying fine hospitality from the family of VCI’s own Yorkshireman Pete Batey. With a champion butcher in the Batey family, Sunday morning’s breakfast did not disappoint! And so, well rested and well fed, we made our way back into Harrogate for the men’s race.
Sunday morning’s rain made Saturday’s weather seem like no more than the meek offering from a garden sprinkler. Shops in Harrogate had reported very low takings during world championship week, but not Sports Direct who were doing a brisk trade in umbrellas.
We returned to ‘Spoons and found our own table waiting for us amongst the busy crowd. Nine laps of Harrogate for the men and the non-stop rain meant the crowd was happy to stay where they were, enjoying the great atmosphere whilst watching the race pass the front of ‘Spoons on TV.
With a few laps remaining we made our way back outside finding a good spot from which to watch the finish. Plenty in the crowd nodded in agreement that it was Trentin’s race to lose as the three leaders passed us with a few hundred metres to the finish. So whilst Mads Pedersen’s win may have been a surprise, no one could argue that he was not a worthy champion at the end of a race contested in the most gruelling conditions.
Back to the Vanishing Chin, but this time swerving the marshmallow stout, the tourists had one for the road before taking a taxi back to the airport for a flight home.
Two days of great craic, and one to hopefully be repeated. Flanders 2021 anyone?
Thanks to Tim Dodds for this report.