Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Banks Nist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Banks Nist

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BANKS

NO woman was killed (as movie makers are wont to reassure us) during the making of this column. But it was a damned close-run thing.

We were stood, the child bride and I, waiting for the Tour de Yorkshire bike race to sprint along the A65 into Ilkley following a fast descent down a hill known as the Cow and Calf when a great day out turned terrible.

An 80-year-old woman stepped off the kerb across the road from us and was clipped by a 40mph sprinter in a collision which sent both the spectator and half a dozen cyclists sprawling across the road. An awful groan went up from horrified spectators, followed by a fearful hush as the old woman was made comfortable at the kerbside.

Within minutes she was in an ambulance heading for A&E where she was detained with facial and arm injuries; the rider who struck her had to retire from the race with minor (but still painful) injuries.

What the poor woman had failed to realise was that the ten-second whirr of Lycra that had flashed before her eyes half a minute earlier was merely a leading group chasing two breakaway leaders and that the main body of the race - the peloton - was still some moments behind. That's what hit her.

It was a sickening moment, one which reminded Gemma of her own mother's hip-breaking fall in her mid-nineties which, for Audrey the Outlaw, had spelled the beginning of the end. Would this incident, we wondered later, be a similar precursor to decline of a life which, seconds earlier, had been for that woman so enjoyable in the company of her family? For me it was a reminder of the crashes in last year's Jim Clark Rally, an annual memorial to the Borders' much-loved twice-world champion racing driver, which left three spectators dead and half-adozen badly injured.

A high-speed race along tight Border B-roads watched by highspirited crowds without barrier protection is a disaster waiting to happen, insists the Elfin Safety Brigade. Perhaps so, but the other option - abandonment of tradition in favour of a squeaky-clean sanitisation of all things dubious - offers an altogether dimmer future: a sense of risk and fun lost and much-loved activities consigned, like Bonfire Night and foxhunting, to the dustbin of distant memory. …

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