My friends and I meet in the centre of Otley, ahead of one of the most exciting events our little market town has seen – the inaugural women’s Tour de Yorkshire race, featuring one of our own, road and track world champion cyclist Lizzie Armitstead.
The sun is shining and the race is about to start, but we can’t see a thing, so we run down the road to catch the riders once they’ve done a loop and are heading out of the town. I can see a Yorkshire flag with ‘Allez Lizzie’ emblazoned on it and people wearing masks of Lizzie’s face!
The cyclists go whizzing by. There are people of all ages at each side of the road, cheering the riders on and waving flags. Later, we find out that there were technical difficulties and the race was not broadcast on television, so I’m pleased so many local people made the effort to support the race.
The weather is holding up and even though it’s cold, the sun is out. There is a real buzz around the town, as we know we have the second stage of the men’s race to look forward to in the afternoon.
Was that rain?!
After a brief break, our group meets up again for the men’s race. The sun stays out, although there are some dark clouds overhead.
After what seemed like ages, the men’s race sets off. Again, we cheer them on – this time with giant Yorkshire flags.
Although the men’s race has now left Otley, the crowds take some time to disperse. This community, brought together to support one of their own, doesn’t want the day to end…
Lizzie went to Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley, as did I, and W&P have worked with the school since the 1990s on their bi-annual news magazine, Inview. Lizzie was, in fact, featured in the magazine when she was still a student, as an Olympic hopeful. She went on to win Team GB’s first medal at the London Olympics in 2012, and with the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, Lizzie is now on the Road to Rio!