The finale at UCI 2019: U23 hors d’oeuvres followed by the elite women and men

As we headed into the final weekend a single day of sunshine was sandwiched between two days of heavy rain. First came the rain and the men’s U23 race. We headed out to Cattal and got some action (it was only a short walk from the railway station) before the cyclists reached Harrogate.  Then we headed back into Harrogate on the train to see them take the last circuits of the town.

There was enough time to for me to walk to the start-finish straight on West Park and then get round to watch them come up Parliament Street for the last time.

The races all entered the Harrogate circuit on Ripon Road and that’s where we went on Saturday for the women’s elite event. We were blessed with some lovely sunshine. This dapper gentleman was enjoying the circuit on his vintage bicycle before the riders arrived. It was Annemieke van Vleuten who came in well ahead of the chasing peloton. They never caught her.

The last day had torrential rain that forced the route through the Yorkshire Dales to be shortened. We stood in the downpours on the Ripon Road hill where they came on to the circuit. You can imagine from the pictures what the conditions were like – I’m glad my camera and lenses are weather-sealed!

We dried out in a pub with a craft beer and some warm food whilst watching the race unfold on the big screen. It was a fitting end to a great week.

In the rain with the Juniors at the UCI Road World Championships 2019

It was wet at the World Championships, and sometimes very wet, pretty much what you would expect in late September. This caused some of the routes in the Yorkshire Dales to be adjusted and made the racing conditions much harder. We watched the juniors on the Harrogate circuit because all of the races ended there. It’s 14 kms long, twisty and hilly with plenty of exciting places to watch the cyclists go past you.

The Harrogate Circuit for UCI 2019

The Harrogate Circuit for UCI 2019

Profile of the Harrogate Circuit for UCI 2019

Profile of the Harrogate Circuit for UCI 2019

With the junior races it was easy to find a spot with a good clear view – at the weekend it was much harder as there were large crowds for the elite races.

Bystanders at the Road World Championships

Bystanders on Valley Drive

The junior ladies raced through rain showers. I found a good spot at the bottom corner of Parliament Street, about half a kilometre from the finish line, where they swung round the corner before heading up the hill to complete each circuit.

Just outside the Pump Room is also great place to watch. You get to see the racers cornering at speed either on Valley Drive or Crescent Road. That’s where I was for the junior men.

Off to a flyer at the UCI Road World Championships 2019: Individual Time Trial Elite Men

So there I was just behind the barrier with a great view of the cyclists who were about to come – one by one – hurtling down the main street in Northallerton at the UCI’s 2019 Road World Championships Time Trial. Yes you have it, a nature photographer (a landscape photographer) about to attempt to get some shots of cyclists belting past at 40-50 km/hr!

I’d decided I would love to pan along with them as they went past to get some background blur. I discovered that a quick burst of the shutter (at 11 frames a second) to get one or two shots worked well – rather as it does for pictures of sugarbirds – but when they were cornering towards you that was really tricky as they went out of focus.

Anyway I was really pleased with the results my Olympus gave me. I was helped by the fact that the cyclists came along at regular intervals, not like the road races we went to in the rest of the week. Here are eleven of the participants in no particular order. The Australian rider Rohan Dennis went on to win it.

Summer and winter sunsets in the same week

My friends know that I love taking sunset photos – and low light photos in general.  A week ago I was still in Northumberland. On my last night at Warton I went out just before 11pm and looked north west to the after glow of the sunset above the Scottish border.  It was really tranquil, there was plenty of late evening bird song with bats swooping past continually.

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Sunset here in Grahamstown is just after 5pm at the moment – we are almost a quarter of the way around the world from Northumberland and so it is approaching mid-winter now and our shortest day.  I went out with Jeannie and the grandchildren for a sunset walk yesterday and grabbed a couple of quick shots looking south-east from below the toposcope on Mountain Drive.  The mountain bikers, runners and dog walkers will all recognise this cabbage tree.  There were some beautiful clouds over the Indian Ocean glowing with the last of the sunlight.

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A short walk on the Northumberland coastal path

My last post had two pictures taken when we were walking a short portion of the Northumberland coastal path.  Now I’m back home in South Africa I realise that I should have included some pictures of the coast and the path itself. So here’s some typical coastal scenery of the stretch of path between Boulmer and Howick scar. You walk past a number of pretty little bays such as this one where the Whitefin Spring flows into the sea.  There’s a natural spring that bubbles right out of the rocks on the far side of the footbridge.

Whitefin SpringFurther north along the path there are dramatic castles such as Bamburg that look like something out of Game of Thrones.  We didn’t see anything as spectacular but this lonely house near Howick lies right on the shore.  There’s a good stone wall between the house and the sea but it must have plenty thick walls to withstand the winter storms as it is very exposed. Kate says that as a child she always fancied living there – she’s not so sure now she’s older!

HowickThe path itself is attractive because it winds along with the sea on one side and some lovely farmland on the other.  Here’s a portion of it.  You can make out the sea on the left hand horizon with the fresh green fields on the other side of the fence completing the scene.

Northumberland Coastal Path

The sky was getting dramatic when we walked approached the end of our walk at Boulmer.  The raked patterns in this field definitely caught my eye and the fence post lying on top of the stone wall drew me into this last picture.

Farm outside Boulmer

 

 

Garden and countryside

We’ve spent plenty of time outside in Northumberland this past week.  It’s been rather cold and windy but with plenty of sunshine, showers and one big storm.  The wind’s been a problem for photography but when you get into the shade of the farm garden or when you are walking on sheltered paths then there’s been a riches of flowers and landscapes.

Here are two flowers from the lovely garden at Warton and a spectacular inverted three sided hook that adorns one of the gate posts.

Out in the country Northumberland often has a big sky.  You can see that in the picture with the silhouettes of the cows.  These two photos were taken on the coastal path north of Boulder.