Tour of Britain – The Col du Caerphilly

At last; I get it. The ‘Col du Caerphilly’.  I’d never really understood the ‘Col’ moniker attached to our local big hill. Caerphilly mountain is certainly a good climb, but it doesn’t take very long to crest it, irrespective of which of the  7 possible approach routes you choose. The mountain recently picked up the name after its inclusion in the Tour of Britain, with the pros taking in two gruelling circuits before the final sprint through Caerphilly town centre. After standing race side for a couple of hours on Friday, the name plainly doesn’t refer to the severity of the climb (though the lower section from Caerphilly town centre is a bit nasty), but rather the continental atmosphere on the top. It was fantastic.

The only way is up.

Taking a half day, I rode up with Cardiff JIF team mate Donald Gray, joining a sizeable chunk of the club on the Northern  slopes of the mountain. Surrounded by cycling clubs, cycling fans and excited kids, there was a carnival atmosphere, with  tremendous turn out to support local rider Luke Rowe, current Sky team-mate Mark Cavendish and adopted Welshman Magnus Bäcksted. We waved. We cheered. We took photos. We….err…..chased them up in the hill in Mexican wrestling masks and speedos (and by ‘we’ I don’t mean ‘me’, you can thank younger, more enthusiastic elements of the cycling fraternity for that).

Luke’s brother Matt, a fellow elite rider, marshalled proceedings, clad in boxer shorts and gloves, ably assisted, respectively, by a gorilla, a 6ft 5″ fairy, Robin Hood and Father Christmas. The riders took it all in good spirit. The biggest chuckle of the day was reserved for unwitting spectators arriving by bike to be greeted by costumed nutters cheering enthusasiastically and pushing them up the hill. Thank god I came from the other direction.

As for the stage itself, Luke took a very creditable 5th on home soil, whilst Leopold Keonig of Nett-app took the win.  You’ll find a larger gallery of shots below.

With thanks to my Cardiff JIF team mates for an enjoyable afternoon. With apologies to all the cars I passed on the fast descent back (it must have been galling to watch cyclists take the mountain over. Bless).

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