It’s the night before the Grand Départ and things are not looking too rosy in ‘God’s Own Country’. To use the local phrase, it is ‘siling down’ and the floodlights outside the Rapha HQ tent at Broughton Hall in Yorkshire are in danger of being extinguished by a deluge of fierce intensity. The rain is beating heavily on the plasticised canvas marquee, providing additional percussion to the Friday night beats being played by Rapha DJ’s Joey Hall and Festus. The throng of people inside are having a good time enjoying the tunes, the beer and the company but eyes keep flicking outside and you can feel minds wondering whether the name of the Tempest Festival will prove prophetic. I’m inside too, chatting to a couple of guys sitting at one of the long tables in the bar end of the tent. One notices my concern and leans in conspiratorially. “Don’t worry.” he says over the noise of the music. “I work as a trader in Amsterdam. I have to study the weather to make my bets. The sun will come out at eight o’clock tomorrow morning. I promise you.”
I’m on The Bike Show this week, talking to host Jack Thurston about the recent summer cycling festivals including L’Eroica Britannia and The Rapha Tempest. You can listen to the episode here: http://thebikeshow.net/rapha-at-10-and-leroica-comes-to-britain/
My thoughts on L’Eroica Britannia are here and I’ll be writing about The Rapha Tempest soon.
So, just how good is a £12,000 bicycle? How much of a difference does all that money make? Last weekend I was given the opportunity to take the brand new Pinarello Dogma F8 – the very same as Team Sky are currently racing (and unfortunately crashing) across Northern France – out for a test ride in the Yorkshire Dales. Despite having a pretty full schedule planned for the day (there was the small matter of Stage 2 of the Tour going on) it was a no-brainer that I was going to find some time to fit this in. And so at 5.30am last Sunday, having risen scarcely later than locally resident rooks, I could be found – pedals in hand – at the Rapha Tempest Festival HQ on the front lawn of Broughton Hall to meet mechanic Ham and my superbike for the morning.