Dear Reader: How much do we love cycling + hope for troubled convention centre

Positive - The new director of Harrogate Convention Centre Paula Lorimer. (Picture by Gerard Binks)
Positive - The new director of Harrogate Convention Centre Paula Lorimer. (Picture by Gerard Binks)

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

The signs are up. Not the standard yellow and black AA-style triangles or rectangles or scary red and black roadworks ones.
I mean the rarely-seen, super bright LED displays in red, yellow and blue standing at the likes of Granby Corner and West Park in Harrogate proclaiming the arrival tomorrow, Friday of the Tour de France with the words “allow extra time.”

So far it’s felt like the quietest build-up to this major sporting event since we first embraced cycling in Yorkshire in 2014 with the Tour de France.
That may or may not have something to with the absence for the first time of the idea’s talisman Sir Gary Verity.

Or, perhaps, we’ve all grown a bit nonchalant about the whole thing?

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Perhaps, the sight on our streets of the world’s top cyclists such as Chris Froome and local favourite Mark Cavendish has become simply routine?
Perhaps not.
It was hard not to be stirred by the incredible scenes of last year’s Tour de Yorkshire.
And the excitement will surely still be there in Harrogate and in Ripon today, Friday and in Pateley Bridge on Sunday.

The sense that it’s our patriotic duty for the sake of Yorkshire to turn out whether we care about cycling or not may still be there this year.
And it’s difficult to believe this September’s massive UCI Road World Championships which will be hosted by Harrogate will be anything but a huge success.

As for the long-term future, will Yorkshire still be wearing the crown of Britain’s leading county for cycling in five or ten years time or will cycling fatigue have taken its toll?
I’m going to park that question.

Hope for troubled Harrogate Convention Centre
There is a difference between being realistic and being cynical and being positive and naive, though these lines aren’t always easy to draw.

When I met the new director of Harrogate Convention Centre earlier this week I wasn’t expecting that much.

Directors have come and gone many times in the long-running saga of this vital part of the economy of the town and, to an extent, the entire district.

After riding the lift up to a swish office in this striking building which still looks futuristic nearly 40 years after it was built, my interviewee Paula Lorimer was quick to get to the point.
As a council employee, technically, that took me aback, though not in an unpleasant way.

What was impressive wasn’t so much her high-powered CV, which proves she has all the right credentials to bring a brighter future to Harrogate’s conference trade.

Nor was the fact she seemed to have the prescription for a healthy revival of the financially troubled convention centre itself.
It was the fact that at no point in her working life had she seemed to be fast-tracked or nodded through.

She’d started at the bottom, and worked her way up not by just talking but by doing.

As a genuine fan of Harrogate Convention Centre, even if it does look a little like an ELO album cover, I wish her well.

This Michelin-chef is coming to Harrogate event...