Tour de Yorkshire Sportive, Leeds
3 May 2015
On May 3rd I felt honoured and extremely proud, as a Maserati technician, to be able to take part in the inaugural Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Sportive as a guest.
Having been pampered like a pro in the hospitality pavilion, things inevitably took a decisively gloomy turn for the worse when I stepped outside, onto the bike and into the pounding rain for the 6.30am start. Quickly away from the start line and out of Roundhay Park towards the outskirts of Leeds I was hoping the rain would abate - especially as I'd left my overshoes in the hotel - it did anything but!
The weather was so atrocious that I'm afraid to say I have no idea what the Yorkshire countryside looks like - due to the relentless rain, fog and drizzle that descended upon it for the 6 hours I spent riding round it. But yes, you guessed it - the nanosecond I crossed the line the sun came out, unbelievable.
The other unbelievable thing was the spectrum of hills on offer - ranging from long, gruelling climbs followed by hideously steep, wet and sketchy descents into small villages which then climbed out as sharply as they went in, to reveal yet another long, gruelling climb. I did enjoy a slight respite due to a welcome puncture going up the cobbled street in Howarth. Fortunately, as I struggled to fix it, a friendly local came over and said "d'want 'elp with that lad?" - I had no choice but to say yes as my thumbs had stopped working due to the chilly weather.
Despite the challenges of the course, I have to say that the public support en route was fantastic. Plenty of folk getting their voices and cowbells warmed up in time for the pros to arrive was so motivating that I cannot recommend this event enough.
If you fancy climbing 8500ft in 90 miles then make sure it's on your 'to do' list next year!
Words and photographs by Marcus Illingworth, banner image from Strava/Google Maps