A kaleidoscope of lycra

Milton Fete probably takes pride of place for the single biggest community event in the Wychwoods, but for one event that united Shipton and Milton, the arrival of the Tour of Britain took some beating. Many hundreds turned out to witness the progress of the Tour through our villages; it really was a day to remember.

Milton Green was full of families, many with bikes of all shapes and sizes. The decorated bike competition was hugely popular; there was an aeroplane bike, a water melon bike, one dressed up for Christmas, one covered with vegetables – they were all the centre of admiration and enjoyment. Rachel took the prize among the older children with her melon bike while Ellie’s heart-covered bike took the under eleven prize; the editor was somewhat surprised to take the adult award with his tribute to MUWAGA but then his was the only entry!

Meanwhile, on the main field, excitement was building even though race arrival was still some way away. Queues at the barbecue and across the site were kept abreast of the race’s progress by the announcer: “Just leaving Charlbury,” “down the big dip by the old water board building,” “turning at Judd’s Grave.” With arrival imminent, a succession of police bikes appeared, honking, hooting, waving, smiling; each one greeted with a roar of approval by the rows of spectators hanging over the iron railings. As well as support vehicles, there was even a van teaching everyone how to cheer! Then the lead group arrived. Colour, speed, effort, youth – they were all on display, perhaps the most impressive being the sheer speed as a kaleidoscope of lycra curved past the old post office, pictures of fierce concentration.

Crowds lined the route right around the villages, everyone leaning into the road for the best views. Many cheered, many clapped, all smiled; such an event had rarely been witnessed before. The massed ranks of the peloton followed, a column of around a hundred slightly damp riders, eyes braced against the spray from a recent shower. It was a magnificent sight – the beauty of power and vitality.

And once the riders had passed, around 50 riders of all ages, shapes and sizes joined in a family fun ride around Bruern and Lyneham, returning to the Green after eight undulating miles of pleasure and satisfaction.

One last image of a tremendous occasion: a group of the police outriders stopped near Shipton shop so that two young children could look at their bikes and talk to the policemen; that, assuredly, made their day. They were not the only ones for whom the Tour of Britain was a highlight of early autumn.

Here are some photographs of the event taken by members of the Wychwood Photo Group:

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October – November 2017