As cycling fever grips Yorkshire in advance of Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014, an Army Musician from Weeton has taken to two wheels, cycling the 390-kilometre route to assist in the preparations for the prestigious event.
Musician Anna Long, 26, was one of a 70-strong Armed Forces peloton that pedalled the two-day route from the historic Harewood House on the outskirts of Leeds to the centre of Sheffield.
The exercise was one of a series of test exercises being run in preparation for the world-famous cycling race.
Chief Executive of TdF Hub Nicky Roche, said: “Preparations have been underway for many months now and we are grateful to the military cyclists for their assistance with our final tests to prepare for the race.”
Tenor Horn player, Anna, joined The Band of the King’s Division nine years ago and is based in Weeton, Lancashire. A former pupil of Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, Anna is a member of the Army Ladies Cycling Team.
Anna said: “I think it is very exciting to be given the opportunity to test the ride before the professional riders come over to do it especially to find out where your times compare against them - it makes it more exciting to go and watch the event.
“My Dad has always cycled and he does long distance rides. So from a very early age I was always on the back of his bike in trailer bikes and just used bikes as a mode of transport more than anything.
“In 2010 a friend suggested I should think about joining a club because I was quite quick
“So I did and started doing time trials. I just progressed from there really.”
Anna won the Inter Services 25-mile time trial a couple of years ago but is just returning to competitive cycling after two years off the bike with injury.
Army Cycling chairman Colonel Stuart Williams said: “We are not here to race, we are here to do an important job for the organisers, the Yorkshire Tour de France hub and to savour just what the professional racing cyclists will endure.“
This year the Tour de France returns to the UK for two stages in Yorkshire withthe final stage from Cambridge to London on Monday 7 July.
For information about where the closest point to the Fylde Coast is to watch the tour, go to www.letour.yorkshire.com