It would be fair to say that some people had misgivings before the tour this year. After all, who goes on holiday to Swindon? Add to that a chain hotel on a trading estate – The Campanile - and you could understand some of the reservations that the more discerning tourists were entertaining before the tour started. Time was eventually to reveal that the 2014 tour was as good as any of the preceding forty tours and maybe even a little better than some.
In reality The Campanile provided clean, comfortable accommodation and courteous service at a remarkably modest price (£60 cheaper than last year). The food was good and plentiful and we even had our own “garage” for the secure storage of the bikes. True, Swindon is not exactly a beauty spot but good cycle tracks enabled us to escape the uninspiring tedium of a 20th. Century new town into some really lovely countryside where cycling was a real pleasure – and it wasn’t too hilly!
Apart from the novelty of our accommodation, this tour followed the same time-hallowed format of all previous tours – five daily circular journeys of around thirty miles punctuated by five or six towers during the course of the day. Pleasingly, there were no really bad bells during the whole week and many of the bells were very good. Maybe we lacked the spectacular highlights of previous years, no heavy twelves in churches of cathedral proportions, but some of the cycling was in country of great beauty (even if the ever-present drone of the M4 provided a continuous background accompaniment).
Our party was smaller than in previous years, the lowest number we have ever had at twenty five (give or take the occasional addition or subtraction) but that didn’t seem to affects things too much. We did miss some of our long standing “old timers” but then we enjoyed some “new faces” that added to the chemistry of the group. It is always satisfying to see new tourists “face their dragons” and start to really enjoy the tour. Basically we seem to divide into two main groups, fit young men on ultra-light bikes who revel in tearing around without apparent efforts and the less athletic for whom it is all an heroic struggle. Amazingly, both groups seem to manage to arrive at the towers at more or less the same time! It is one of the wonders of the YBRCT that we caste a large group of people to the four winds at one tower and miraculously they come together again at the next.
Our venerable leader had decided that this was his last tour. Hence the poetic symmetry of the first and last tower in the Tour’s history should be Shipton Moyne (where the Tour started in 1974). However popular demand determines that YBRCT should continue, though with a slightly different management structure. Tom Pelham will be Accommodation Manager and it would be helpful next year if people were a little more communicative with him that was the case in 2014. It isn’t GS’s Tour or Tom Pelham’s Tour, it is your Tour so help make it easier to organise. Watch the website YBRCT.org.uk for emerging details and KEEP IN TOUCH!