September sees the Tour of Britain speeding through the length of the country and on a gloomy looking Wednesday morning the Nottinghamshire countryside held host to the race. Starting off in the old market town of Mansfield, the team's echelons packed the tight confines of the market square giving the fans an up close experience you rarely get in professional sport. With the excited crowds bustling for a view and maybe an autograph of Mark Cavandish, Geraint Thomas and Tony Martin, to name but a few of the cycling stars on show, the atmosphere was electric.
First stop was the village of Edingley, fully decked out with a yellow bikes at every lamp post, colourful bunting hanging off every hedge and a good gathering along the roadside. An early breakaway was met by local cyclists waving their pie and pints outside The Old Reindeer pub as the race dashed on towards their first watering station in Southwell.
Now this is where plans and cycle races fall foul as we jumped back into car to head for the first of the intermediate sprints. It was always going to be a push to get there, cutting through the narrow lanes, but the rolling road block stopped us in our tracks. With luck seemingly on our side it turned out to be a good spot on a slight incline as the sky's briefly opened to remind everyone this was Britain. The chasing cycling club crowd’s spirits, now emboldened with pastry and beer, were not even slightly dampened, shouting and whooping as riders pulled on rain capes.
Looking at the timings on the schedule and gauging the speed of the peloton the decision was made to head straight the King of the Mountain segment at Eaton Wood. The gathering of people there was amazing all the way up the hill with cow bells, clackers and anything that could make a royal racket as the race passed by. As police sirens approached from the distance, the furore was palpable from the hundreds of assembled spectators. The four man break still had a reasonable lead going up the hill but the main peloton was hot on its heels as we headed towards the finish.
This is where the luck ran out.
The schedule had be blown apart by a bike race determined to beat me to the line, despite my sprinting the last one and a half kilometres, the Tour of Britain Stage Four was over with me 100 metres short. The fat lady in my head was in full voice. With presentations done, seeing the jersey swapping hands for the next stage, we were left feeling satisfied that our county of Nottinghamshire and it’s people had done us proud.