Buzzing with the expectation that ripples through the crowd at the right angle corner in Byfleet, I search for the ‘multiple picture’ setting on my new, birthday present camera. The guy next to me, sporting a similar model but different manufacturer fiddles for a bit but can’t help.
“Should have sorted that earlier,” mutters the other half. Well, I know that, but won’t admit he is right. A commissar’s car sweeps through telling us that there is a four man break away four minutes ahead of the main field.
Still I search. Scattered applause follows and I know the cyclists are close. Then, success, I manage to set the mode I need and clamp the viewfinder to my eye. Focus. Set. The clapping surges towards me and then four men, pumping hard, sweep around the corner and accelerate through my rapidly clicking viewfinder.
All goes quiet as we count off the four minutes. Still not overly confident, I don’t lower my camera but amuse myself adjusting the focus to various points, trying to second guess the best place to have absolute clarity. I daren’t try to view the shots I have just taken. What are the chances, I wonder, that I will catch anyone clearly enough to recognize, let alone Mark Cavendish…and how would I recognize him through the tiny viewfinder anyway…believe me it is not the best way to watch a cycling road race, which is an event of split seconds at the best of times with two eyes and a head that is allowed to swivel. Once again the wave of applause signals that the Peloton is near. As the police motorcycles speed around the corner I begin to click.
I don’t stop until the RAC motorbike repair van has brought up the tail end of the procession.
Reluctant to move on, people in the crowd by the barriers smile at each other, then turn slowly to make their way home. The number of cyclists is amazing, many sporting clever towing attachments for small children.
As we stroll away I tune into voices around as they discuss cunning plans so that next year they will be able to sprint off to catch another view of the race further along the route.
At home I connect camera to computer and begin to download 146 shots –taken in 6 short seconds.
I scrutinize them then a flash of green catches my attention – in GB strip or not, there is no way Cav would be riding without his green helmet, shades and flashes on his bike ( he won the prestigious Tour de France Green Jersey 2011) – and there he is. Focussed, safely placed near the front of the pack, intent on doing what he does best – win!
Red, white,blue and green-
pumping muscles, strong heart, Cav’s
eyes fixed on the prize!