Adam Yates, as I write, is wearing the yellow jersey in this year’s delayed Tour de France. It is a worthy achievement for the Bury man whose twin brother, Simon, is also a top cyclist. Whether he can win remains to be seen. A lot can happen between now and the Arc de Triomphe. For me the young Columbian, Egan Bernal, who won it last year, has to be favourite.
I have been following the race from day one and nearly all the shots of spectators show that France has rolled over to the latest global fascist menace which threatens the freedom of society. Unlike here in the UK they are nearly all wearing masks. It is tempting to argue that this capitulation is what the French did when the last wave of fascism jackbooted itself all over their beautiful country. But of course there was a very strong underground movement, the French resistance, which carried on fighting till the allies eventually brought freedom back.
In this age of total surveillance operating an underground movement is almost impossible. Yet never in the field of human conflict has an underground movement been so necessary to rescue those indoctrinated by the current fascists from total tyranny. Many of us who cycle may well use Garmin computers, which are handy little gadgets that keep us informed of everything from the speed we are going and altitude to elapsed time and distance covered. In that respect they are helpful. The dark side is they can also be used to track where individuals are at any given time.
The Tour-de-France almost did not start this year due to the COVID-19 nonsense. Clearly strong measures have been taken to enforce the international elite narrative of the necessity to mask. Arguments for not wearing a mask are stronger than wearing a mask. Oxygen is essential for athletes and none of them on the Tour, that I have observed, is wearing a mask while cycling. As soon as a stage is finished they are each given one. How ridiculous the stage winners look giving interviews through a mask I leave to the imagination of those who have not been following the event. You have to feel for them.
Like all other sports this year cycling has suffered, especially charity events. I was going to do the Tommy Godwin Challenge for Marie Curie Hospitals this month. It is a local ride but sadly it has been cancelled. I did manage, for the fifth year, to participate in the Big Ride for Palestine and people can still donate to this worthy event.
Cycling has always brought me pleasure though I could never participate at competitive level. We need to know our strengths and weaknesses and in yesterday’s stage of the Tour competitors did that last 10 miles in 17 minutes. That is close to 40 miles an hour.
When I was a lad our village, Harworth in North Nottinghamshire, boasted one of Britain’s top cyclists, Tom Simpson. Although older than me by some years I met him a few times. Every night he would cycle up our road, Sandy Mount, go for a thirty mile spin and be back within an hour. Sometimes we used to wait and look out for him at Tickhill Spital crossroads to see how far up the incline we could get towards Swinnow Wood before he came powering past.
Those were the days when another virus, Asian Flu, was taking the lives of people with weakened immune systems. Only a decade or so before fascism had been defeated. The useless gas masks were gone and nobody wore any kind of mask except surgeons, we never went into lockdown, did not social distance and carried on as normal until herd immunity defeated the virus, which was, I conjecture, more serious than COVID-19.
The picture above is me with my first drop-handled bike in 1956 standing by our back garden in Harworth.
Tom Simpson died during the Tour de France wearing the yellow jersey on Mont Ventoux in Provence in 1967.