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firbeck

Le Tour de France

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Well, ignore the World Cup next week, we're going to be involved in 'La Tour, however, do many people really care?

While Nottingham isn't involved, or is it, our insignificant little town of Braintree finds itself in the middle of the events. You will not believe how much money the cash strapped, Lord Hanningfield haunted, Essex County Council are chucking into this, ALL the minor roads en-route from the Cambridgeshire border have been resurfaced whether they needed it doing or not! There are signs everywhere warning of road closures, the entire area next Monday is on a complete shut down from 6:30am till 16:00pm, people will not be allowed to move from their villages or even walk down the roads during this time, any emergencies are considered tough sh*t, make do and mend, it's unbelievable. However, local publicity is absolutely non existent, where are the banners and the posters promised by Braintree District and Essex County Councils, talk to people at the relevant council departments and they are all enthusiastic, but get down to them actually promoting it amongst the council tax payers who are paying for all this and there's nowt!!

As some of you may know I'm the manager of a cycle hire centre in our local country park, La Tour is actually running alongside the park, the opportunities are immense, the park rangers however have not actually been told what the plan is, they haven't been supplied with any publicity material whatsoever from ECC, they have actually come up with a cunning plan to go over to County Hall and nick the banners and flags they display in Chelmsford County Hall, which is completely unconnected to the event.

As far as I'm concerned, while trying to make an issue of all this, the company directors have been showing a total disinterest, a great business opportunity being ignored. Well, head office have had so many enquiries about hires, I've kicked into gear, the park are expecting 12,000 people, we're in business, I arranged for a delivery of official stuff to the hire centre on Saturday which duly arrived, it really attracted peoples interest, the official posters are gorgeous, retro 1930's style, but why aren't they posted around the town!!!!

Think of me next Monday, I'm determined to see it go past.

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The Tour is going through Thwaite, a hamlet in North Yorkshire where my cousin lives and owns rental cottages that have been fully booked since the first mention of the race being in his area. Great news for the area. Hope it all goes well for you down in Essex Firbeck.

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Here you go, a few mobile phone pics of my own attempted publicity:-

letour1.jpg

letour3.jpg

letour2.jpg

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It's all happening up here for Le Tour on Saturday and Sunday, the race coming through Holmfirth on Sunday on the way to the finish that day in Sheffield. it was our intention to have a walk down to Holmfirth to see them passing by, because it takes all of about 30 seconds for them to flash past and if you blink you've missed 'em. There is however plenty of stuff going on all weekend based around those 30 seconds and all the roads around closed off from Friday afternoon and all the folk living along the road with cars who have to park on the road having to find somewhere else to stash them for 2 days, no idea where they're going to put them!

There's lots of folk rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of all the dosh this will generate, even the smallest piece of land being flagged up by the owners as car and cycle parks at £10 a throw, or somewhere to pitch your tent for the weekend at around a £100. Thought of letting of my lawn but a look at the mess left behind at Glastonbury soon changes your mind!

Mrs C and myself have been up in the Dales a couple of times in the last week or so, and even more so than around here everywhere is festooned in bunting, yellow painted bikes placed all along the route and every shop window finding something to associate itself with the event. The number of lycra clad backsides around all the roads is a sight to behold, believe you me!

In Masham, a village up in the Dales which is home to the Black Sheep Brewery, the locals had knitted hundreds of little yellow jerseys to hang up as bunting along the lanes, but the local council have now intervened and demanded that they be removed on the basis that if it rains the little woolly jerseys will get wet and the weight could bring down the lampposts to which they had been strung, I kid you not!!

I am looking forward to the weekend but have decided that in view of the impending throng al around, will watch it all on the telly with a couple of bottles of Masham's finest brew by my side and a chilled bottle of Chardonnay for Mrs C, who is somewhat more refined about that sort of thing than yours truly!

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Sums it up doesn't it, only two responses to this subject.

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Firbeck,

Brilliant Publicity, So good that you have drummed up a bit of Business from two old codgers, who like to ride bikes! Tell me, are the cycle rides rough or gentle enough, for two riders, who find it very difficult to stay upright these days? We may come and give it a whirl, if you think we can manage it?

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Brum to Braintree,you are some cyclist carnie'..good luck anyway :)

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Carni, you may have left it a little too late to join in, after all Team Sky have even snubbed the great Sir Bradley! We could perhaps try to get a team together for next year with you, Chris and Rog and Compo as the front runners.

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Was that a sigh of relief I heard just then, Carni?

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Good on yer Pete,looking really good, it takes a Nottingham lad to sort the job out and what thanks will you get? Not going to the festivities on Saturday as I will be at the Waddington air show with some friends from Scotlandshire, rain forecast but hay oh,

would be nice to do some of the route on my trike when health picks up though, who knows we could have Team Nottstalgia thrashing around the lanes of Yorkshire,bet we'd have more laughs than the pro's

Rog

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The best of luck on the day firbeck,looks like your ready.

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The Tour' starts today,and ive heard 'Howard and Marina' are leading them thru the hills,with Pearl in hot pursuit.

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What a shame this British summer weekend is so grey and wet, especially as there are so many big sporting events taking part. As well as Le Tour we've got Wimbledon finals, Grand Prix and Henley Regatta. Don't suppose the rain will worry those taking part but thousands of spectators will get a soaking.

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Well, I'm in the cycle hire centre now, I came in this morning via The Flitch Way, the old railway cycle route from Braintree to Bishops Stortford, you'd love it Carni. I had a meeting with the Rangers and cafe people, they're opening up at 5:30am on Monday, expecting it to be manic. I'm going to open at 8:00am I have people who have made phone bookings for then. Apart from here, still no publicity in the building, pathetic. The directors, still oblivious to the whole event had organised a 'Health bike ride' on the day. I told them they were crazy and to forget it!! What do they know. Weather crap today, nobody about in the park, I hope you will watch the Essex stage on ITV4 on Monday, look out for me at Rayne Station.

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Weathers brightened up now here in Derbyshire, should be a fine day for the Tour De France, not sure what it's like further south though. Lots of campers here for the race. We will be steering clear of the roads, would have liked to have got to Waddo for the air show but only have this afternoon off, so think it will be our first (and probably last) BBQ of the year.

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Trying to watch the first stage on telly but am getting really pee'd off as there's more bleddy adverts than cycling! madashell

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Well, after the promise of a multitude of bookings and 12,000 people turning up to park here, I got in the Cycle Centre at 7:30 this morning to find the bookings cancelled and no-one here. The Park Rangers can't believe it, they've been up to the centre of things at Rayne Station and nowt happening there either. After seeing all the enthusiasm going on up in Yorkshire on the telly, I can only think that the local Essex people, and, all the schools have been closed too, have probably bogged off to Clacton for the day instead, it's very strange.

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It's 11:00am now and people have actually started to arrive, an added complication though, a stolen van with false number plates and tax disc has been abandoned at the entrance to the park! It's been pointed out that as this is supposed to be the biggest car park and meeting point in Essex that it could be a terrorist attack, subsequently the bomb squad are currently crawling all over it, I'm staying inside and waiting for a large bang!!

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Did anybody watch it?

The van ended up being surrounded by police cars, ambulances and three fire engines, I don't know the full story yet, but at, now, nearly 15:30pm, it's still there with a police car in attendance, considering the events of today, I'm sure the emergency services are pretty peed off.

The park eventually ended up full of people walking up the bridle path loaded up with folding chairs and picnic baskets, only one family decided to hire bikes. I was trying to watch jerky live footage of the event on our crappy shop computer, at about 13:15, the area was completely empty, then 5 black Sky helicopters came over in a line, so I thought, sod it I'm shutting up shop for half an hour and shot up there on one of our bikes. Of course, I picked one that had faulty gears that clunked and clanged all the way up there ( the route was only 5 mins away ). When I got to the end of the lane, it was chocca, mainly caused by a van that the stewards had made park in everyones way, the bloke that had hired our bikes made them shift it out the way. So, standing on the crossbar and hanging on to a tall hedge, I was just about able to see the action. The amount of helicopters, cars, vans, motorbikes constantly streaming through and making broadcasts in French was incredible, eventually a big cheer on the hump back bridge heralded the approach of the two leaders, whoever they were, next another vehicle cavalcade, then the main group, 4 mins behind. I have to say it was zoom and they had all gone in a flash, pretty impressive though especially on such a diabolically narrow, sharp bend, and that was that, probably never to be repeated here but at least I can say I was present. I hightailed it back to the shop as fast as possible, the Rangers had sneaked across the fields to get a good view, then all the masses went back to their cars, the place looks sadly empty now.

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I put on the Tour highlights programme last night as people had told me how fantastic the live helicopter footage of our local area was, apparently even showing the hairpin bend and hump backed bridge where I was standing. What did we get, 10 minutes of chat, Yorkshire stage highlights, a few minutes of the Cambridge start, a few seconds of Saffron Walden, then 50 minutes of bloody boring streets in London from Epping Forest onwards. I've tried to find stuff on ITV player, but they only have the highlights, ie this 'London is the Centre of the Universe' crap.

BBC Look East were live from Finchingfield during both their 18:30 and 22:30 bulletins so I managed to see some bits. I gather that ITV had so many complaints about their live footage as when the riders were cycling through the really historic parts of Cambridge, such as Kings, they cut it off and put adverts on instead. 1 million people in Essex stood along the roads to watch them pass, didn't ITV think that perhaps they'd like to appreciate the beauty of our local countryside on the highlights instead of smelly London streets, perhaps they should have considered why all our TV ariels point East and not towards London.

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I put on the Tour highlights programme last night as people had told me how fantastic the live helicopter footage of our local area was, apparently even showing the hairpin bend and hump backed bridge where I was standing. What did we get, 10 minutes of chat, Yorkshire stage highlights, a few minutes of the Cambridge start, a few seconds of Saffron Walden, then 50 minutes of bloody boring streets in London from Epping Forest onwards. I've tried to find stuff on ITV player, but they only have the highlights, ie this 'London is the Centre of the Universe' crap.

BBC Look East were live from Finchingfield during both their 18:30 and 22:30 bulletins so I managed to see some bits. I gather that ITV had so many complaints about their live footage as when the riders were cycling through the really historic parts of Cambridge, such as Kings, they cut it off and put adverts on instead. 1 million people in Essex stood along the roads to watch them pass, didn't ITV think that perhaps they'd like to appreciate the beauty of our local countryside on the highlights instead of smelly London streets, perhaps they should have considered why all our TV ariels point East and not towards London.

I have the whole 5 hours of live broadcast available if you want me to send you a copy. It will just go on a DVD as an X264 to be watched on a PC. Alternatively, I could put it on a cheap memory stick to watch on a TV if you have a USB input.

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Cheers DJB, that would be great, everybody down here is chuntering over the lack of any way of seeing the events around these parts, a UXB stick would be just the job.

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