i could almost laugh at my naivety, though i'm not entirely convinced that i'm entirely to blame. in line with my tutorial role in digital multimedia at the local further education college, i was supplied with an overview of the learning outcomes required of my students. that's pretty much a regular happenstance when teaching certificated courses, and something i would generally print out for the benefit of the studious. it lets them see how much learning is required in comparison to what they figure they already know. and it makes entirely sure that the meaning is not lost in translation.
what i had not realised, however, is that along with the questions forming part of the course assessment, the latter part of the multitude of pages contained the answers to all the multiple choice contained within the first part. this is presumably to assist me with my marking, or in case i am no better informed than those i profess to teach, but nobody told me they were there. and in my aforementioned naivety, i was on the point of handing over the printouts en masse when i realised the situation.
though the course is not the most onerous i have come across or been required to teach, it would surely be completely devalued if, in the process of asking the questions, i cheerfully handed over the answers at the same time. it's not that much of a challenge if there's no perceived challenge in the first place.
in which case, transposing the same situation to the art of completing a grand tour (in this case, the 2014 tour de france), isn't it cheating just a little bit to have the opportunity to peruse the parcours several months in advance of the event? shouldn't each and every one of the almost 200 riders start with the same lack of knowledge regarding the next hundred or so kilometres? except, in the case of the start in yorkshire this year, there's an outside possibility that many of us who will not be on the start line already know how to mentally ride each of the first two or three stages.
whether we want to or not.
however, it's likely that the grand depart 2014 will be truly of use to yorkshire if all those of us possessed of substantially less speed turn up with bikes in bag or roof rack, ready and willing to emulate the professional routes at a more sedate speed, happy to partake of yorkshire hospitality and scenery. in which case, a tour guide or virtual tour guide would be an undoubtedly fine idea. and that's where heather dawe enters the fray.
through her self-published, kickstarter funded, compact and bijou hardback 'a bicycle ride in yorkshire' heather has provided an exceptionally delightful book that does exactly what it says on the cover. and were her words insufficient to guide the uninitiated through the hills and valleys of the county, there is a veritable spread of unique illustrations on each and every page presenting heather's vision of her perambulatory surroundings.
her local knowledge is more than pertinent in places:
"If I am honest, one of the things I dislike about the route of the second day of Le Tour Yorkshire is this descent into what is a substantial amount of urban sprawl and very busy, large roads."
and arguably of greater personal interest on other parts of the route:
"For those who like their real ale, Masham should not need an introduction. Apart from being a lovely market town it is famous for having two large breweries - Theakston and Black Sheep."
though the professionals have a mere two days to cycle all those scenic kilometres, heather has strategically separated those into several chapters equating to a slower pace through yorkshire. and while rouleurs, grimpeurs and baradours are unlikely to see much more than crowds at the roadside, all the while surrounded by a convoy of motorbikes and sponsor and cycle bedecked team cars, heather's narrative, illustrations and routes offer a far more pleasant means of appreciating the surroundings from the saddle.
i admit that there's is little current likelihood of my being one of the many thronging yorkshire's roads and lanes aboard my colnago c40 dressed head to toe in endura movistar team kit. but for those of an aesthetic and appreciative disposition, the 48 exquisite illustrations that bring the book to life are every bit as worthwhile as the words they accompany. as a slightly offbeat and less commercialised souvenir of the 2014 tour start, this will be hard to beat.
thanks to heather's generosity, i have two signed copies of 'a bicycle ride in yorkshire' to offer to the first two selected correct answers to the following question...
in which town would you find the home to the breweries of theakston and black sheep real ale?
e-mail your answers to email@example.com ensuring you include a postal address. closing date is wednesday 12 march.
friday 7 march 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................