Four Acme members made the long journey to Yorkshire aiming to enjoy the spectacle of the UCI World Championships. After a trouble free journey and a quick case drop off in Leeds, it was straight on to Harrogate to catch the end of the Junior Men’s Championship. The weather conditions had improved from earlier in the week but the riders, and spectators, had to contend with constant showers. Dean, Jeff, Kerry and Mark caught the final circuits around Harrogate to see the American, Quinn Simmons win after a long solo breakaway.
At the end of the race a visit to the Fan Zone gave an indication of what was to come in this large field as the weather would deteriorate. Although there were walkways set down, the grass areas were very wet making it difficult to walk around freely.
The centre of Harrogate is quite small and was easy to get around and a Weatherspoons was soon found as the likely venue for food that evening. Before then a meeting with other spectators in a pub on the circuit clearly demonstrated the pulling power of the event as there were supporters from all over Europe, many of whom were veterans of the event. Celebrity spotting in Weatherspoons was easy as we sat on the table next to David Millar and Peter Kennaugh, who were very happy to have a photo with us.
Friday morning began with breakfast while watching TV coverage of the Junior Women as they raced from Doncaster to Harrogate. After a short train ride we were on the finishing circuit to see American Megan Jastrad win a hard fought battle over the tough final kilometre. Not long after she was riding back to her hotel all alone and very willing to talk to spectators and have her photo taken with them.
The American theme continued during the day as we struck up a friendship with Wisconsin residents Matt and Gretchen Harr who shared our company during the day and even had their first taste of Weatherspoons with us.
Later in the day the Under 23 Men also started from Doncaster though the course was much longer. Local rider Tom Pidcock was well supported on the route though a recent serious fall off the bike only a month earlier would surely take its toll. The Dutch rider first over the line was deemed to have drafted behind his team car for too long earlier in the race and was disqualified and, much to the local supporters delight, the British rider was awarded the Bronze Medal.
At last the weather improved on the Saturday for the Elite Women who started in Bradford. The sun shone as we ventured into the Fan Zone which had dried up a little and the stall and exhibitions were full. Accompanied by Matt and Gretchen we took up our favoured position in the Hales Arms just inside the kilometre mark where we could view the race at several points on the circuit and get to the TV to see the finish. The Dutch were rewarded after the previous day’s disappointment with Gold and Silver.
Sunday morning the forecast was horrendous, luckily the rain held off for the start, just five minutes from our hotel on Leeds. As soon as the peleton rolled out it was back to the hotel for Mark and Jeff to watch Wales beat Australia. By the time the race reached the circuit the rain had really set in but this did not deter us from walking the last few kilometres to watch the race unfold through the wet leaf strewn streets. The break away was strong and never looked like getting caught with Pedersen saving just enough to win the gold in the last 500 metres.
Even though we were all soaked through on the Sunday, it had been a fantastic experience and an extremely well organised series of races. We met supporters from all over Europe and UK and hopefully struck up a lasting friendship with our Wisconsin friends Matt and Gretchen.