It was early on a Sunday morning and I stood at kilometre zero of stage three of the inaugural Women’s Tour of Scotland. The route was leading the peloton out of Edinburgh towards Peebles, before looping back and finishing with three laps over Arthur’s Seat. I had managed to get back, just in time to watch as the Chief Commissaire dropped the flag to signal the end of the neutralised section as the race left Edinburgh and the racing began.
As the pre-race convoy of police motorcycles and safety cars approached, a gentleman came out of his driveway to speak to me. His expletive-filled question concerned how long this would all take and he was disgruntled the road would be closed all day as he had to get to Ibrox.
I calmly explained the race would be through in a few minutes but I didn’t manage to placate him. He continued to bump his gums saying that he didn’t care and would get in and drive his car anyway.
As he walked back towards his house I considered calling after him to suggest that watching the race pass by may be more enjoyable than an afternoon at Ibrox, but I decided against inflaming the situation any more.
All around me there were police motorcycles managing the traffic and ensuring a secure and safe rolling road closure for the fast approaching bunch of riders, so I had no concerns about any malicious mischief this resident may be about to attempt.
Within a few minutes it was all gone and the road was back to normal. The only indication of a bike race having passed by only moments before was the yellow race directional and safety signage my team and I had put out earlier that day.
It was enough to get my local resident irate again. As he came out of his house, car keys in hand, I called to him that the street was clear and safe for him to drive through to Glasgow now.
He looked down the road at the signs that my team were already dismantling and commented that it was typical that a mess would be left behind. I tried to bring to his attention that we were already clearing the route and would follow the race taking down signs as we went, but he was having none of it and drove off out of his driveway with a wheel spin.
As I crossed the road back to my van, a mother and father and their young son were standing on the pavement, still waving small flags. They had been waiting patiently in the drizzle for the race to pass, and when it did it was all over in around 30 seconds.
I said hello to them as I passed and considered that maybe their experience spectating hadn’t quite been that of, perhaps, the Tour de France, with the big accompanying circus of sponsors vehicles and assorted cavalcade. The parents smiled and the young boy said\; “That was brilliant”. At that moment my exasperation at the grumpy resident across the road disappeared.
Whatever the event, wherever and whenever it was he was going to find a fault somewhere to moan about. He reminded me of an old friend who once exclaimed in a staff meeting: “I don’t care what anyone says I will not agree with you”.
But it wasn’t for him, it was for the young boy and his parents who could see beyond the prejudices and disruption that the bike race was causing.
It was for the thousands who came out, despite the weather, to line the roads and crowd the starts and finishes of the first Women’s Tour of Scotland.
It was for the future where we can all live with a little more compassion for each other and be proud that Scotland is a country where we can host fantastic, international sporting events.