Dear Reader: Why cycling events are great + making a point at Harrogate Town

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is to make his long-awaited debut at the Tour de Yorkshire shortly which comes to Harrogate briefly.
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome is to make his long-awaited debut at the Tour de Yorkshire shortly which comes to Harrogate briefly.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

For motorists used to bumping along Harrogate’s battered streets, it’s not quite as good as Beckwith Road. That’s like driving on silk.

But it’s still a pleasure to drive down the newly-smooth and rut-free Otley Road.

We have two major cycling events coming Harrogate’s way to thank for that.

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Without the arrival of the Tour de Yorkshire in two weeks’ time and the UCI Road World Championships in September, there would have been no pressing need to have resurfaced Otley Road, though there is a pothole budget so...

I had the pleasure of chatting to two members of the Cappuccino Cycling Club who are better placed than me to judge the importance of the world's greatest riders coming to our neck of the woods.

The club boasts a surging membership and a thriving ladies section, partly because of its inclusive and non-competitive nature. Plus it’s fun.

They may not bat an eyelid at wearing bright lycra but, talking to the club’s James Lovell and Nick Feasey in the cafe at Prologue Cycling shop on Cold Bath Road, they didn’t strike me as people to pigeonhole easily.

When they told me that the UCIs will be big and exciting, that Harrogate will be mobbed with international visitors and cycling teams based in the town’s hotels, using the town’s cafes and restaurants and bars and that, yes, this really is a massive opportunity for Harrogate, I believed them.

And I’m not even a cycling fan.

The label fair weather football fan could have been invented for me but it wasn’t always that way.

Between the ages of six and 18, I lived and breathed the game.

It was the age of old-fashioned terraces and no facilities, long hair and pitch invasions.

I took it all so seriously my dad would push me down to the front of the enclosure where the, er, noiser fans liked to make their presence felt.

As I grew older I came to resent match days when a defeat for my team would ruin my mood for the night.

But I never lost my love of football completely and I’ve always had a soft spot for Harrogate Town.

More so since the club has enjoyed an impressive rise up the ranks.

The last time I turned up in person at their Wetherby Road ground I was pleased to see one of my articles from the Harrogate Advertiser reprinted in the match programme.

I’d written it to highlight how the civilised atmosphere at CNG Stadium was earning the club the much-deserved reputation for having the nicest fans in the National League.

The game itself was enjoyable but I got caught up in the encounter on the 3G pitch between brain (Harrogate Town) and brawn (the other team).

So much so that I found myself standing up and shouting at the ref and shouting at the opposition players...

And then I thought back to the days of my dad pushing me down to the front of the enclosure.

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