I am sorry it’s taken me just over a week to write this blog and get it up but I have had hospital appointments and all sorts of things keeping me busy that it has taken until today to finally put the photos on my computer and sort the blog out. So here it is!
Please do not be fooled by the title of this blog. I have not taken up some crazy “run around a field chasing cows and trying to milk them” kind of thing. Hmm, in a cartoon that would be quite funny but definitely not something I would consider in real life! The milk race doesn’t REALLY involve racing with milk at all… There was a lot of free milk/milkshake/fruit juices (errrrm, yep there was apple and orange juice) and basically a lot of dairy based products. This is because the milk race is actually a cycling race that is supported/sponsored by the dairy council. You can read about its history here.
So basically, in a nutshell, after many years of there not being a race, it was decided that there will be a new format and it will be held in Nottingham! It was a big success and the organisers and sponsors decided to do it again this year. Now, I am married to a bit of a cycle fan – He was always into bikes when we were at school and basically he has never lost interest in mountain bikes and more recently has got into (and is VERY good at) road cycling. Just yesterday he went on a 57mile ride and then had a “normal” afternoon with me and my family (including a very active little boo) – what a NUTTER! haha!
Admittedly, I do not know a lot about cycling, and less about team cycling or the sports science involved (there is a science?). Saying that, I am able to appreciate the sport and fitness level needed for such an endurance event (I’m talking about the elite races when I talk about this – anyone can do the community and family rides) – it was INCREDIBLE!
Ok, so our day started with a drive to the tram (park and ride) at Hucknall. We got out of the car and straight onto the tram just before it was leaving (great timing). Just as the tram was leaving, the conductor person came and asked for tickets. I was stood with my purse “two returns to Nottingham please” – him: “oh, we don’t take money on the tram anymore. You have to buy your tickets at the stop. What you have to do is get off at the next stop and buy your tickets there” WHAAAAAT?! Luckily it wasn’t a problem because we had a nice conductor but there were no signs at the tram stop (or at any others). The conductor was lovely and asked the driver to wait for a little while at the next stop. He also showed me what to do with the new ticket machines. I noticed the sign which said 5 for£5 which was a saver return ticket for 5 people (BARGAIN)! At last I wasn’t breaking the rules by not having a ticket (I felt very unsettled until that point – partly because of the rush and the lack of ticket and partly because I was on a backward facing seat which always makes me feel a bit ‘bleugh’). Dan spotted a front seat and inner peace was restored lol. I’m so glad that we had a lovely conductor because the big official (and very mean looking) ticket officials got on the tram on the next stop – PHEW!
We got off the tram at The Royal Centre (where it terminated for the day) and took the very short walk to the old market square where all of the cycling (and “milk action”) was going to take place. We arranged to meet Dan’s Auntie and Uncle but had half an hour to spare so we found a comfy little spot right after the finish line to watch the ‘Advanced’ group of riders. The “official” Robin Hood was stood opposite us and it was his job to start and finish the races for the day. So in the advanced ride, there were some boys that looked half my age riding bikes that are worth half the cost of my car! They were thrashing their legs and wobbling their little helmet wearing heads from side to side and they just had the look of warriors on their faces as they tried to beat each other over that chalk line! That alone was entertaining for me and it was lovely to see the passion and determination to just do the best they possibly could FOR FUN! It was highlighted that there was no actual race until the elite women’s and elite men’s races. It was more of a fun day for cyclists of all ages and abilities to be able to ride the exact course as elite riders which included Olympians and very experienced riders. Also, no one was allowed to ride the course if they didn’t have a helmet. That was something I really liked to hear.
Just as the ‘community’ ride started, the familiar faces of Dan’s Auntie and Uncle turned up. Followed by an old man with an OWL on his shoulder! He wasn’t anything to do with the event, he just went for a walk with his dog and owl – what a wonderfully random place Nottingham city centre can be! We watched the community ride from our little spot at the finish line. There was a man on a penny farthing type of bike but I think it was a modern take on a penny farthing and a lady dressed head to toe in 50’s attire (apart from the helmet) and rode a Pendleton style bike. She had me giggling. She looked like something from an old film/postcard and got the record for cycling the slowest. She did it deliberately as if she was having a gentle cycle in the park. I was worried that her skirt was going to get caught to be honest!
After the community ride we had a wander into the “inner circle” where they were giving out freebies. Dan and his Uncle spent some time talking to the man at the Raleigh stand (a good old Nottingham firm) and they liked the team bike which only£5,000. annoys me! Something that I thought was awesome was the pedal powered entertainment. They had a tent with spinning bikes in and a DJ with the PA system. It was up to the public (and celebrities) to keep the music going for the day! It looked like great fun!
After Auntie H and I did a loo rekkie (her – M&S. Me – Debenhams) we went to Uncle A’s viewing recommendation. It’s where Dan had suggested but I had a bit of an obsession with the finish line (in athletics that’s what you want to see ok?!) We were pretty glued to that spot until the end of the day. We caught the end of the family ride which was lovely to see. There were children racing down the finishing straight, trying try to beat their parents/siblings. Laura Trott joined in with this ride too ahead of her elite race… what a sport! The person that completely stole the show for me though was 3 and a half year old Ollie who had spent 20 minutes cycling on a little bike with no pedals! It was all walking/running type cycling. Now when I was working in a special school, I used to go up the corridor every day on an office chair (which was on wheels) whilst helping a little boy to walk! It absolutely thrashes your thighs and bum! Little Ollie will have legs like a machine when he’s a bigger boy if he keeps that up! haha
The crowd around the course seemed to just appear from nowhere as the time for the women’s elite race came. It seemed like one minute we were chilling and munching a sandwich in our own company and then all of a sudden I was stood amongst strangers and having to scooch the rucksack and coat towards the barrier to make space.
The warm up laps were interesting to watch as it appears that team talks still go ahead during that late phase… I don’t really know what I am talking about but it seemed quite “teamy” as they were in team bunches. They could have just been commenting on my floral coat or what was on TV the night before for all I know haha. It was incredible to see how close professional cyclists get to each other in competition. As I said before, I don’t know a lot about cycling, I wont pretend to. I try to take on board all of the key stuff Dan when he tells me but some things I just don’t get hehe. I know what bits of the bikes are but I do not for the life of me get the whole team cycling thing. I’m with the athletics mentality that if you enter a race you race for you or your club or region but you race to blinking win. I have had to learn to keep that opinion to myself when I am watching team cycling though. I guess bikes and endurance races are just not my bag yet – I want to learn though haha.
So the names that you might know if you watched any of the Olympics/Paralympics
Dame Sarah Storey
Dani King and Sarah Storey missed out on podium places due to an incident where Sarah came off and managed to get back on the bike causing lost time and Dani got held up in an incident which caused “mechanical issues”.
The Podium was 3rd Charlotte Becker, 2nd Laura Trott and the WINNER was Katie Archibald.
I managed to watch the post race interviews and take some photos of Laura supping the milk from the bottle (the gift that is traditionally given).
Unfortunately, I didn’t pay much attention to my battery life and I pretty much zapped it so there’s only got a few snaps of the elite men’s race with Ed Clancy. It was stopped very early on due to a very nasty accident where Joe Giggins came off and what looks like he was knocked out. I know that from where we stood, we could only see the big screen and listen to the commentary. Everyone on the track looked extremely nervous and eventually some of the cyclists started to filter back to the start line. When Dan and I got home we were able to watch the race back and we saw Joe hit the barrier and then basically someone started helping him. We knew at this point that he was okay though. It was announced to us after the race that he had been taken to hospital and somehow he was actually ok. PHEW! So, back to the race. Eventually, it restarted. Now, I thought the womens race start was crammed but my heck I have never in my days seen anything like it! I think if I was in the middle of all of them I would have literally had a melt down and screamed. It was just all man and bike and feet and legs and arms and I’m sweating typing it because it was really just a crazy scramble of human man and metal bike with rubber bits of tyre! URGH! Annnnnd BREATHE!
The result of the elite men’s race was 3rd – Matt Cronshaw 2nd – Matthew Boulo and WINNER Graham Briggs. (You can read what he said to the Nottinghamshire Post after the race here).
I have to say, if you have never seen a critirium race it’s definitely worth going to. The milk race was a free day out (minus travel and food) and it was highly entertaining. As someone who really doesn’t “get it” I can honestly say there wasn’t a moment that I was uninterested or bored. If you really don’t like it when you get there (which I highly doubt) there is Patisserie Valerie just up Smithy Row (highly recommended) or any number of shops or tourist attractions in Nottingham that you could visit should you wish.
I felt that the safety of the spectators AND riders was effectively enforced and the security team that were near me for the elite races were really good with the pubic – they gave plenty of notice for track opening and were generally really thoughtful towards the spectators.
I got to spend a day with my lovely Dan and his relatives and it’s not very often that I get to enjoy what he enjoys (cycling) due to my illness (I can’t go out and join him on a ride) so all in all we had a great time. I definitely want to go again so hope it becomes an annual fixture!
Here’s a little collage of some of the pictures I took before my battery fizzled out.
Do you have any free or low-cost events that happen near to where you live? Free/ cheap family days out are often the best days out don’t you think?
Until next time,