How Not to Run a Cycling Race

Shock!  Horror!  Unheard of!  Today we could be found (a) watching day time television and (b) it was a cycling programme.

Today’s daytime TV.

The Tour de France, to be exact.  Normally we only display an interest in this or any other cycling event if it passes our front door: as it did twice when we lived in France, and once, in 2014, when memorably, the Tour began in Yorkshire.

The Tour de France goes through Laroque, 2012

Today however, stage 15 of this year’s Tour took place in the area we called home, the Ariège.  We had to watch.  The struggles of the cyclists passed us by as we grew nostalgic, even damp-eyed as familiar roads, familiar landscapes appeared on screen.

But as I watched, I was reminded of an incident that took place in Laroque, back in 2012.

Every year, just before the Tour, another cycling race takes place in the Ariège: L’Ariégeoise.  It’s divided into three levels of difficulty: the Ariégeoise itself (160 km,3,500 m. of climbing), the Mountagnole (118 km, 2,500 m. of climbing) and for wimps, the Passejade, a mere 68 km, and 750 m. of climbing.

That year, the route passed our way.  That year, the routes of the two main races parted company in Laroque.  And that year, there were no signs to say so….  and nor were there special marshalls for the Mountagnards.

The unsuspecting riders arrive at the parting of the ways….

As the riders arrived at the crossroads in town , they didn’t know where to go.  Ariégeoises  followed MountagnardsMountagnards followed Ariégeoises.  It was hopeless.  Riders tried to turn round, collided with those behind them, swore, and swore again as they saw their hard-won perfect timings being swallowed up in the chaos.  With extraordinary presence of mind, I shot some video footage.

 

I heard later that following the event, the race organisers used my little clip for  training purposes, to demonstrate How Not To Organise a Cycling Event.  I’m guessing it’s part of every year’s Tour de France training too.  That’s why it always runs so smoothly.

You can read all about it here.

36 thoughts on “How Not to Run a Cycling Race”

  1. Is there no end to your talents? Now I learn you’re responsible for a training module of the must-have course on cycle race organising. Goodness me! I’m so impressed, and think it’s absolutely your duty to watch cycling on daytime tv to see that organising standards are being maintained as well as check out that Laroque stands where it did…

    Like

  2. Wasn’t quite as bad as the only time I went to watch the Tour de France. This was 1998, during the height of the doping scandal. No matter, the whole village had turned out to watch stage 17, and it was quite a picnic. My office had taken the day off, and I’d gone along. We saw the contestants in protest against police raids and alleged mistreatments walking slowly past, holding their bikes. It was a nice day, and we spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the wine and food. I think that was the only time I had a few Frenchmen agree that a game of cricket would have been more interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a mess that race was! That one guy, standing in the middle and hollering, wasn’t enough! And, you, in the right place at the right time with a camera–your clip would be perfect for training purposes.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.