The BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show presenter on being made Mayor of Barton
I’d like to start with a sage word of advice for Bourton, Stow, Moreton, Winchcombe, Cleeve, and Cheltenham. On Saturday, September 9, remove the crinkles from your bunting, polish up your air horn but whatever you do don’t blink…or you’ll miss it. The Tour of Britain bike ride is back in our patch and if recent years are anything to go by, the anticipation and build up in the weeks before the big day make those precious few blurring seconds of Lycra magic worth all the effort.
Two days before the circus comes to town on Thursday, September 7, I’ll be hosting my show from the main street in Bourton-on-the-water and then heading off to cycle the exact route to get the juices flowing. Along the way I’ll be meeting all those groups and individuals who are buying into the excitement of the event. I’ll be stopping off at local schools, bike clubs, shops, businesses, trying out vintage bikes, screaming out for an oxygen mask on my way up Cleeve Hill and ending in a heap in central Cheltenham.
In recent years when the tour came through the Forest of Dean, Gloucester and Stroud, the streets, roads and country lanes were jam-packed with people of all ages screaming their support and making the route appear like one long street party. I caught them at Cranham one year as Sir Bradley Wiggins shot through at such a speed the local school children’s ‘Go Wiggo’ banner nearly blew away in the airstream he created on his way to Painswick. It takes me 15 minutes on a good day to slog up Horsley Hill out of Nailsworth - it took this lot under five!
Life was, however, a little different 50 years ago when the tour came through Stow. It was then known as the Milk Race and the town experienced a cycling event that would be inconceivable today. All the riders were amateur, only one wore a helmet, and the roads were still open to traffic when they came through! Stow was the stop-off point between Swindon and Malvern which had been split into two different sections. This meant Stow hosted the finishing line and the subsequent re-start as the town saw action for two hours of the day. So roll on the 9th, go and grab a slice of the action, and tune in to revel in the build-up as the Cotswolds swaps tweed for Lycra.
The Milk Race at Stow-on-the-wold, 1967. Photo by Rob Brown
...and at Cheltenham Racecourse
Cummings and crew at Bourton...