Wheel, wheel, wheel

cyclingSaturday 9th September promises to be a red-letter day in the Wychwoods; that is the day when between 100 and 200 of Britain and the world’s top cyclists stream through Shipton and Milton as part of the Tour of Britain. This will be Stage Seven of the epic race, the penultimate stage when it is all to play for, running from Hemel Hempstead to Cheltenham where The Parade will host a frantic finale to the day’s riding.
But before that comes the Wychwoods’ turn. The race follows north of Oxford, arriving at Charlbury around lunchtime and then rising past the station on the road heading for Burford. At Judd’s Grave, the crossroads on the Shipton to Leafield road, all eyes will be drawn to the Wychwoods when these top riders and the TV crews head down into Shipton, past Sinnels Field and turn right onto the A361 beside The Shaven Crown. Then this blur of colour, sweat and lycra will pass the Wychwood Inn, up past the primary school, past Milton green, along the High Street and onwards to Bourton, Stow and Moreton. The chances are that most of the riders will be grouped together in a fast moving ‘peloton’, one that races past straining eyes, seen one minute, talked about for time to come. It may not last for long but its combination of athleticism, power and speed, plus its kaleidoscope of gaudiness, cannot fail to impress.
The Wychwoods wants to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A group of volunteers has been meeting planning for the big day. Definite plans have yet to be finalised at the time of writing but a leaflet outlining the activities will be distributed around the villages, banners will be on display and, all told, the events simply cannot be ignored. While details will be available on the leaflets, the thoughts are to have a barbecue on Milton Green, race commentary as the peloton moves closer to the villages, a decorate-a-bike competition, with prizes supplied by Mountain Mania in Carterton, and a short family ride taking in Bruern and its woods after the race has passed through.
And, of course, there will be excellent opportunities to see the race itself as its speeds around the five ways junction, cruises down the A361, passes the grassy banks outside Wychwood School and then whistles past the Green in Milton.
Perhaps the day will leave its legacy; perhaps, just perhaps, the road from Judd’s Grave, as it enters Shipton, will be resurfaced or at least have its potholes filled so that local cyclists no longer have the life battered out of their bottom brackets!

Bob Forster

August – September 2017