This week may not have seemed particularly special to most people but it was an historic one for cylists across the district – it marked 500 days until the Tour de France descends on us.
That’s never happened before. And it might never happen again.
I hope someone celebrated it. I sat at my desk trying to get this paper out. Occasionally I drifted off and imagined I was cycling through the French Alps leading a break-away from the main peleton in a bid to maintain the red polkadot King of the Mountains jersey I was wearing.
Sadly this will never happen. The closest I got to being a professional cyclist was when I completed the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride from Wetherby to Scarborough (a few years later it changed its destination to Filey) in about six hours when I was nine-years-old.
It went downhill from there, although I did have a go at a mountain bike race at Lightwater Valley when I was a teenager but I failed spectacularly at that.
Now at the grand old age of 34 – thanks to the hype surrounding the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire next year and gracing this district over two days, including finishing in Harrogate on the first stage – I have signed up to do a charity bike ride from here to Edinburgh. That will be my own little Tour de France challenge. Shameless plug: anyone interested in sponsoring me can click here.
I’m hoping news of “Le Tour” coming here has inspired many readers of this newspaper who haven’t ridden their bikes for many moons to dust down their saddle and get cycling.
I also look forward to witnessing the once-in-a-lifetime buzz it will bring in the run-up to the race coming here and the weekend of the event itself.
I’m sure it will benefit local businesses. Bike shops have already seen an increase in custom in recent years thanks to a surge in popularity of cycling as a result of successes by homegrown talent on the international circuit in both road and track cycling. The Tour de France can only add to this. Other businesses such as hotels, restaurants and all that benefits from the tourist trade are set to get a big cash boost over summer 2014. The Tour de France entourage alone adds up to 5,000 people. It had been said that Yorkshire will benefit from a windfall of £500m thanks to the Tour coming here.
Obviously the event will take a lot of planning which will not be free to the district but the dividends should far outweigh the outlay.
Just this week Harrogate Borough Council agreed to grant £200,000 to planning for the Tour in the 2013-14 budget.
Another cycling boost for this area is the Bilton to Ripley cycleway which is opening this spring after a 15-year wait.
Summer 2014 seemed a very long way away last year when we discovered the Tour de France was coming to Yorkshire, but now we’re well into 2013 and it no longer sees such a distant prospect.
In light of this, starting from next week, I will be doing a fortnightly page featuring Tour de France news, cycling stories and anything related – so if you run a bike shop, are part of a cycling club, a local business or a member of the public, then get in touch with me by emailing email@example.com or on twitter - @georgehinton. My telephone number is 01423 707 505.
Among the upcoming events will be the Sportive ride taking place in Nidderdale on March 24.
It will offer cyclists the chance to ride some of the hallowed 2014 Tour de France route and will be 85 miles. It will start and finish in Summerbridge.
To join the ride, see www.functionalfitnessevents.co.uk
Also in Summerbridge, taking place this Saturday is Stif Cycles’ third anniversary of being at their New York Mills base, after moving from Headingley. The well-known bike shop, which has been established more than 25 years, will be holding various demonstrations, including giving guests the chance to ride with top mountain bikers Steve Peat and Josh Bryceland. Coffee and cakes will also be on offer.