Road and tour cycling are along with MTB (mountain biking) very popular activities in the Scottish Borders, our roads and terrain being perfectly suited to the hobby. It is a huge treat therefore to see the professionals gathered from every corner of the world for the 2022 AJ Bell Tour of Great Britain come flying through our little village and past Bonnie Park on the second stage of the race.
The race is made up of 8 stages (the final 3 cancelled due to the passing of HM the Queen) due mainly to the police outriders for the event having to return to police duties linked to the repatriation of HM the Queen from Scotland to London.
The race started with stage one in Aberdeen on the 4th September and the second stage on the 5th of September starting in Hawick and ending in Duns, some 175.2km of route.
An impressive number of locals from the village had assembled to cheer on the racers on with some sporting team jerseys and even handbells, which on reflection might have been cowbells to further encourage the riders efforts. This on a warm summers day gave quite the impression you might have had you been abroad watching perhaps the Tour de France or Italia! We watched the 30 or so police outriders who are brought in from all over the UK for the event clear the roads, block junctions and manage the route ahead of the riders arrival.
The majority of the teams support vehicles, thier roofs festooned with spare bikes and sides plastered with sponsorship details in the teams colours passing through first. These were closely followed by motorcycles with pillion passengers facing backwards taking photos and filming the riders.
Hawick being only 7 miles from us meant we were lucky enough to see the action early on before the teams and individuals had time to spread out, which meant being able to view them taking the sharp turn left entering the village while they were still bunched and jockeying for position
Clang clang the bells rang and enthusiastic clapping and cheering signaled the arrival of the first riders in a group of perhaps 12 almost wheel to wheel behind each other the majority though and it seemed like hundreds were all racing almost all as one body with some five or six abreast as they took the sharp left corner.
No thrills or spills involving crashes, although it has to be said the skill involved to be able to manoeuvre so closely and at such terrific speed is to be admired. Having never seen a bike race of this level before and admittedly not even watched one on tv with my cycling sport knowledge and experience limited to watching my best friend Mark Colbourne MBE win his gold and other medals in the velodrome events at the 2012 Olympics, this was I have to confess quite the spectacle.
This stage was won in 4 hours, 8 minutes and 35 seconds by Cees Bol a dutchman who races for Team DSM, runner up briton Jake Stewart and third New Zealander Corbin Strang. The overall winner of the Tour of Britain 2022 was spaniard Gonzallo Serrano of Team Movistar. So if cycling (of any sort) is your thing when you visit Bonnie Park, be sure to bring your bike with you and follow in the footsteps of world champions.