The first round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series comes to the Isle of Wight
Living on the Isle of Wight quite a lot of things don’t happen, so it was with a little surprise that back in February, Ryde, to the north-east of the Island, was announced as the hosts for the first round of the Perl Izumi UK Tour series. For those whose interests aren’t two-wheel related, this is a cycling event that travels to ten venues around the country, culminating in the final event in Bath in June, to races on small street-circuits, with short intense laps. With the small courses it’s spectator friendly, although if you do miss it, it’s also shown on the telly (ITV4).
Despite being the sunniest place in the UK, and held on an arbitrary week-day, the good weather decided it wasn’t a fan of cycling and had better things to do that day, and in it’s place sent some rain over instead. Wednesday was lovely, and I’m typing this with lovely warm sunlight pouring in through the window, however this time yesterday I had the lights on and rain dribbling down the window. Luckily things improved somewhat to what the weather forecasters would probably call ‘light scattered showers’ by the time I ventured over to see what it was all about.
The Island is well known for its openness to cycling. We have a very high network of bridleways around our deceptively hilly countryside, a permanent round the island bike route, and a cycling festival held in September. Before the main event of the first round of the Tour Series, there were a few of support events, although due to the weather, a lot of these were unfortunately cancelled. We arrived just after five just as the support race of local club riders took to the course, so we saw some good racing before the main event. I was initially a little concerned by the lack of spectators, the IW council (or at least the arm that promotes events) usually do a good job of pushing things that are happening, although given it was still technically “office hours”, I hoped it would pick up a bit later on. Luckily as we headed to the bottom of the course, it seemed that most people had congregated around the start/finish line and all along the esplanade and were adding to the noise being pumped out the PA system. By the time the main event started at 7.30, everyone has come home from work, gone back out again, and had filled the streets, creating what I thought was a pretty good atmosphere giving a lot of support to all the riders.
I used to photograph mountainbiking, in fact it was mountain biking that got me into photography in the first place (or rather the aftermath of a crash on one), although in the last few years I’ve shot less and less of the subject, so being very out of practice I viewed this as an opportunity to try and get back into the swing. For some reason it didn’t register that photographing someone on a bike who you can ask to ride again and again until it’s right, with lots of flash setups to conquer the dark is a world away from a group of road riders going 30mph in the wet and dark the other side of a barrier. High ISO and blurry photos ensued…. The other thing I realised as I saw people sprint up Union street for the 18th time, was just how unfit I am, although they are professional bike riders, I build websites, so it’s perhaps not too surprising.
In all, it was a good boost the the Island, I hope that this becomes a regular thing, if not then some other ‘pro’ cycle race comes to the Island in it’s place. I’m all for it. I know there was rumor after the success of Yorkshire, of trying to get the Tour De France to the IoW, although I think that may be a step too far (the Island is simply not big enough), having a national event is the next best thing. I just hope that next time the weather plays ball…