Clifford: Oh yes, of course, I’ve been riding these roads since I was a lad. We used to ride across to Scarborough and back in a day. Best fish and chips in the North. And all those magical places in the Dales and the Moors: Rimswell, Wetwang, Upperthong, Slack Bottom . . . what memories! Nothing like Yorkshire’s roads for a training ride.
Nigel: I know, they’re great. Nice views.
Clifford: "Nice"? And what do you mean "I know"? You grew up in Esher.
Nigel: Clifford, I just rode the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire sportive this morning. This bit was on the course. There were crowds then, too, just like this. It was brilliant! All these people, all ages, families together, all having a great time!
Clifford: Well, the crowds are one thing I don’t approve of. These newcomers, they don’t appreciate British cycling tradition. One woman asked me to put my pipe out. I ask you! Beryl Burton must be turning in her grave. Oh, and look at this! [Unwraps a piece of greaseproof paper to reveal a pile of tiny white crystals]
Nigel: [Eyes widening] Clifford! I’m shocked! I know it’s a long ride home, and things were different back in your day, but still . . .
Clifford: Oh shut up Nigel. This is all that’s left of my Kendal Mint Cake. That man with the mullet squashed my sandwiches. The crush is impossible.
Nigel: But Clifford, the atmosphere. Look at all the people soaking it up!
Clifford: They must be mental. So must I, come to that. I’ve just ridden halfway across the country to get here. The traffic was insane. Now I’ve got to stand here for a couple of hours, all sweaty. And it’s raining. I’ll probably catch my death. The riders will take thirty seconds to come up this hill, and then they’ll be gone. And then I’ve got to negotiate the motorhomes and Range Rovers - not to mention the team cars and buses, which are all driven by lunatics - and ride all the way home again. And did I mention that it’s raining?
Nigel: Er, yes. Speaking of Range Rovers, Scilla picked me up in Scarborough and drove me here. She’s just parking. I've got the bike rack on the roof: we can give you a lift home if you like.
Clifford: [Aghast] What? And not ride home? I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Nigel: You know, now you mention it, it's obvious that a lot of the people here have come on their bikes. And I thought I might feel out of place in my fancy kit, but there must be fifty grand’s worth of Gabbas on show, just on this one climb. Actually, wait a second . . . is that a Rapha baselayer you’re wearing, Clifford?
Clifford: They had a sale on!
Nigel: Don’t worry Clifford, it can be our little secret. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to ask what you make of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Clifford: [Through gritted teeth] "Of". Tour of Yorkshire.
Nigel: Alright, Tour of Yorkshire. But come on, what do you think of it? Do you approve, or not?
Clifford: Why do you ask?
Nigel: Well, it’s a three-day, continental-style stage race, which is only a couple of years old. But it’s based in the spiritual home of British cycling. At least, that’s what David Millar called it. But it’s not as old-fashioned as that might suggest. There’s a women’s race, with bigger prize money than the men’s. What's more, there are hundreds of cyclists here, male and female – but half are in club kit, and half are in Rapha or Castelli. The cafés do a pretty decent flat white, but everyone’s eating pies. No one knows any of the riders except Wiggo, and he pulled out on the first day. But no one cares. And no one knows who’s winning, but no one cares about that either.
Clifford: So what?
Nigel: Well, is it Old Cycling, or is it New Cycling?
Clifford: I don’t know. I only know that I need some grub. Look, this pub’s got a pie-warmer going in the garden. They look champion. What can I get you? Sausage roll? Cheese and onion pasty?
Nigel: Houmous wrap, please.
Clifford: Nigel, this is Yorkshire.
Nigel: But that lady has one.
Clifford: It’s from Waitrose. She must have brought it with her from Harrogate.
Nigel: Well . . . I am pretty hungry after this morning’s ride . . . OK, I’ll have a pork pie and a cup of tea. And a steak slice. And some of that onion gravy. Actually, forget the tea. Scilla’s driving. Make it a pint.
Clifford: You know, there’s hope for you yet, young Nigel. Barman!
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