City all geared up for the arrival of Le Tour

NARG 1406303AM1 Ripon TDF feature.(1406303AM1)
NARG 1406303AM1 Ripon TDF feature.(1406303AM1)

Woolly bikes, a mannequin in a spotted helmet and a bicycle made out of pork pies are just some of the unusual decorations spotted around Ripon city centre ahead of the Tour de France this weekend.

Although the route skims past the city, a huge party is planned and it seems yellow fever has taken over the city.

NARG 1406303AM5 Ripon TDF feature.(1406303AM5)

NARG 1406303AM5 Ripon TDF feature.(1406303AM5)

“In the last two weeks people have really started to become aware that it is happening and the realisation of how big this is for Ripon,” said Le Tour Ripon volunteer Mike Thwaites.

“The message I have always been saying is that this is a reason to celebrate. The Tour de France could have gone anywhere in Europe but it is coming to Yorkshire and it is coming to Ripon.”

Around 16,000 people are expected to line the roads on the outskirts of the city, catching a glimpse of the cyclists as they whizz past. Visitors to Ripon will also be able to watch all the action on big screens on Market Place and at Ripon Racecourse which together have been designated an official Tour Spectator Hub.

Following the racing, the stage will be set for a party in the city centre with an Abba tribute act performing late
 into the night and food stands.

NARG 1406303AM8 Ripon TDF feature.(1406303AM8)

NARG 1406303AM8 Ripon TDF feature.(1406303AM8)

“We have the best of both worlds, walking distance from the route and the market place for a family event,” Mr Thwaites added.

The Market Place spectator hub has capacity for 4,000 people, with Newby Hall also providing 20,000 parking spaces plus parking at Ripon Racecourse and Ripon City AFC’s ground.

Alan Weston, City Development Manager, said: “This is going to be the biggest event in Ripon in living memory.”

Mr Thwaites added: “It doesn’t get bigger than the Tour.”

NARG 1406303AM6 Ripon TDF feature. Landlord and Landlady of The David and Ruth Hamby with Horice Velo (1406303AM6)

NARG 1406303AM6 Ripon TDF feature. Landlord and Landlady of The David and Ruth Hamby with Horice Velo (1406303AM6)

The Le Tour Ripon, a volunteer group, has sold around 700 yellow branded t-shirts in the build up to the event and volunteers at the Ripon Museums spent weeks knitting jumpers for the bikes displayed outside the old workhouse.

Wendy Hunwick-Brown, volunteer co-ordinator, said: “Our volunteers have been working on this project since Christmas.

“People are thinking of really good ideas to decorate the town and people are really starting to get excited for the Tour de France now.”

Last year Ruth Hamby, landlady of the One Eyed Rat pub on Allhallowgate, welcomed Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme for a visit.

She said: “It is amazing how quickly it has come around, I am really looking forward to it now.

“A lot of people have been out cycling the route already and it is great to see how everyone has got involved.”

One of Ripon’s oldest businesses, Appleton’s Butchers, has cooked up a creative way to celebrate the Grand Depart with a ‘pie-cycle’.

The team at Appleton’s spent hours making the display which features pork pies for wheels, belly pork for brakes and a chipolata bike chain.

Shop assistant Toni Vauvert said: “We wanted to do something fun to mark the Tour and show what we are made of here.”

Around the corner, Oasis Florist’s eye catching yellow display has been drawing lots of attention.

Owner Bob Forbes said: “I put the display out two weeks ago and there have been lots of people taking photos every day since.

“I think it is great how much everyone has got behind it, it is so special to get it in Yorkshire so we should support it.”

G Craggs electricals store manager Barry Ring added: “Although it won’t affect us, we think it is important to take part and decorate.

“It will bring a lot of trade to Ripon and it is going to be a big event. I think it will be mega on the day.”

Events at the Ripon spectator hub start at 9am on both Saturday July 5 and 6 with a Yorkshire and continental food market, big screens showing live coverage and cycling films, children’s entertainment and live music.

On Sunday July 6, Le Tour Ripon has arranged a family bike ride, treasure hunt style event to promote cycling around the city.

The event will start on Market Place and costs adults £5, children £3.

Ripon Festival s has also oganised a children’s fair which takes place in Ripon Spa Park on Sunday, from 11am-3pm.

Activities include a children’s funfair with rides and amusements, a bouncy castle and slide, charity stalls, children’s entertainment plus refreshments including a children’s tea party at2pm.