The Tour de France and punctuation

From Keith Houston’s excellent blog, “Shady Characters“:

The first stage of this year’s Tour de France ran from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach/Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, along the north-west coast of the Manche re­gion, on the second of July.  As the riders fol­lowed the 188km route, they passed through the little town of Gouville-sur-Mer, which, in the time-hon­oured tra­di­tion of pro­vin­cial vil­lages that the Tour vis­its but once every few dec­ades or so, laid out its slo­gan for the tv heli­copter to see: Gouville-sur-Mer, cap­itale mon­diale de l’huître de pleine mer (Gouville-on-sea, world cap­ital of the open sea oyster).  So now you
World oyster cap­ital though it may be, Gouville-sur-Mer is not, evid­ently, the world capital of dia­crit­ics: the noble cir­cum­flex, which should have reigned proudly over the word huître, was nowhere to be seen.  Nor were any other non-al­pha­betic marks — not the hy­phens that should have ap­peared in Gouville-sur-Mer or the comma that should have come after it, and not the apo­strophe that should have punc­tu­ated l’huître.  And yes, tweets and in­stant mes­sages may be in­creas­ingly do­ing without their full stops, but I could have handled one ap­pear­ing here.  For shame, Gouville-sur-Mer!  I sa­lute your oyster cre­den­tials but I de­plore your aer­ial ty­po­graphy.


Report from our Man in the Mountains

CTC Northampton member Phil L loves his camper van and riding his bike up high mountains.  He reported for us in summer 2012 (“Mountain Pass Junkie”).  This year he writes:

I’m up in the High Alps, Bourgeois d’Oisans, the centre of the cycling universe!  Am sure you’ve been here yourself and of course everything is in preparation for the TdF which comes through next Thursday, 23rd.  I don’t often get good wifi but it’s ok here.
I had a few days down in Provence – Bedoin – to do Mont Ventoux the conventional way which was ok, despite there being hundreds of cyclists churning their way up!  Was going to do it the next day a different route and got a few miles up when the rear dérailleur on my Trek gave up the ghost, fell apart, chain snapped etc. so a longish walk/ scoot back to camp.  Was touched by the number of cyclists who stopped to see if I needed help – one Dutch guy even offered me an emergency chain link to get back.  Wasn’t too far though.  The bike has done well over 2 months I suppose and is going to need a whole new drive train so I thought I would wait til I get home to get it done and switch to the MTB. Nobody rides a Trek over here and with one busy bike shop in the village it would be an expensive wait for parts I guess.

Top of Alpe d'HuezJPG

Top of Alpe d’Huez

Col du Glandon

Col du Glandon

So I came up here to do some of the TdF passes.  Did the Alpe d’Huez the other day along with hundreds of others and yesterday the Glandon and Croix de Fer.

On Alpe d'Huez

On Alpe d’Huez

Col de la Croix de Fer

Col de la Croix de Fer

Done them all before but not on a MTB which I have to say was fun.  When you’re churning uphill, those extra gears are pretty handy.  I am amazed how many riders are doing these passes with a compact and rear cassette with too high a ratio – hardly moving some of them.  You’ve got to spin up in my book.  Need a front 50/34 and 32 rear at least which of course a MTB will have.

Col de Sarenne

Col de Sarenne

Anyway, the motor-homers have already moved in to “bag” the best lay-bys and viewing spots; some have already been here a week!  The gendarmes are being a bit stricter this year and insisting that up the Alpe you can only park on some bends and you have to face downhill – to avoid the million point turns that have to be made to get down I suppose.

Alpe d'Huez from above

Alpe d’Huez from above

Phil's  home for two months!

Phil’s home for two months!

The roads maintenance people are out mending guard rails, resurfacing, cutting back verges and sweeping.  (Makes me think we need a couple of TdF stages in UK every year to put our roads right!)  And there are a host of road closures and deviations coming up so I have to keep an eye those ‘cos I have a date with Mr. Froome up in Paris for the Champs Élysées finish next week and I don’t want to get grounded / hemmed in and stuck here!
I’ll be back for the London-Surrey 100; great to think CTC Northampton has at least six riders in it – almost a TdF Team peloton!

Don’t forget: you can sponsor Phil in the London-Surrey 100 here!  He’s using his place to raise funds for Headway Northampton.

Social evening – Tuesday 1st July – “Pantani: Accidental Death of a Cyclist”

Next Tuesday is a social evening!

The Forum Cinema is showing “Pantani: Accidental Death of a Cyclist”.

Marco Pantani - Il Pirato

Marco Pantani – Il Pirato

Here’s what the puff says: “Marco Pantani, the most flamboyant and popular cyclist of his era, won both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia in 1998 – a titanic feat of mental and physical endurance that no rider has achieved since. He was a hero to millions – the saviour of cycling following the doping scandals which threatened to destroy the sport. Less than six years later, aged just 34, he died alone in a cheap Italian hotel room. The film explores the startling truth behind one man’s descent from being among the finest athletes on earth to a tragic end in a sport riven by intrigue. Combining scintillating race archive with contemporary news footage, stylised reconstructions and interviews with Pantaini’s family, friends, colleagues and rivals, including Bradley Wiggins, Evgeni Berzin and Greg LeMond. The story of the greatest climber of his generation, man vs mountain, athlete vs the system, Marco Pantani vs himself!” It’s a British film, directed by James Erskine.

The cinema is part of the Lings Forum Leisure Centre off Billing Brook Road at NN3 8JR. May I suggest we meet in the foyer at 7.45 p.m.? Last time (for the Armstrong film in April) the attendants locked any bikes in their office. Many bus services from the town centre stop in Billing Brook Road outside the Leisure Centre. There is a small car park but you’d probably be better parking in the large shopping centre car park on the other side of the road.

The running time is 1 hr 36 mins. Afterwards, we could enjoy a drink at “The Bold Dragoon” in Weston Favell Village (48 High Street, NN3 3JW) where bikes can be left at the rear. It’s the nearest pub with good ales (e.g. Timothy Taylor’s) to the cinema.

Any questions? Want to let me know you’re coming? I’m on 07960 302095!

Ian M

Two views on Sir Bradley

One of our members, David, subscribes to the conventional view and writes:

Sir Bradley Wiggins receives Knighthood following Tour de France Victory, Olympic Time Trial Gold Medal and Sports Personality of the Year 2012.

Sir Bradley Wiggins described receiving a Knighthood in the New Year Honours List as “incredible” but said he would not be using the title on a day-to-day basis.

“In terms of recognition and an accolade, as a sportsman in this country it’s probably the highest honour. I may get used to it over time, and I’ll probably use it in a very comedy way but not in a serious way. I certainly won’t be taking myself too seriously with it, that’s for sure,” said the 32-year old cyclist.

I take a different view:

I’ll try (!) to leave my political view – that “honours” replicate a Ruritanian view of the past – to one side and ask, “What’s the point?”

A highly-paid professional sportsman wins a gruelling cycle race and is awarded the Maillot Jaune – hurrah!  Great!  Brilliant!  I love it.

He goes on to win the Olympic Time Trial gold medal.  Hurrah!  Great!  Brilliant!  I love it and I was standing about 50 metres from the finish line.

I couldn’t tell you who won the gold medal at Beijing just four years ago.  Or any of the earlier winners.

Sports Personality of the Year?  What’s the point?  And a “knighthood”?  What’s the point?

Aren’t the Yellow Jersey and the Gold Medal enough?


Leisure ride “Tour de France Watercolours” – Saturday 13th October

Philip, our Chair, is leading this ride and writes:

This Saturday you can do more than fantasize about riding the Tour de France. Come on the CTC leisure ride and see “Twenty Stages” – prints of the Tour de France by Maxine Dodd at the J Gallery, Moulton.

Sadly the exhibition of her watercolours has ended early (presumably due to good sales?) but there are still her prints to see, and there is a café at the gallery.

Meet at 1.30 p.m. at the Brampton Valley Way near The Windhover pub. Both café and gallery close at 3.00 p.m. so we will go to Moulton directly. Afterwards we will try to evoke the Tour using the local hills and dales, finishing back at The Windhover by 4.30 p.m. Total distance under 20 miles.

Saturday afternoon’s forecast is currently for mixed sunshine and light showers, coolish at 10°C with a light westerly wind, so bring a waterproof.

Let me know if you have any questions (01604 720522) and I look forwward to seeing you there.