Cambridge – Tour de France 2014

I vaguely remember being lectured about Cambridge at planning school. I either wasn’t interested, or four years of often low-ball government work has seriously dulled my academic memory.  What I do remember was that it was apparently awesome and probably the best example of a walkable, cyclist friend, car hostile town in the world.  That’s right, even more so than the much vaunted (but I would argue, overrated), Copenhagen.

That’s pretty much what Cambridge is.  And it is good.  Especially when travelling from London, and even more so when travelling from Fort St. John.  Actually, Fort St. John is probably the anti-thesis of Cambridge in just about every category.

I found myself in Cambridge as part of my dear friend Julie’s wedding party.  An alum of the Cambridge MBA program, Julie had the rare privilege of holding a wedding within the majestic architecture of Queen’s and King’s Colleges.  The college system was another vague memory of grad school, but that was wonderfully explained in much detail to me by Julie (who had also years earlier explained the American college tradition of fraternities and sororities to me) while I was wandering the narrow streets.  That we don’t employ such systems in Canada is a great shame.

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Cambridge can be a bit of a tourist trap in the summer months, and certainly has an old town feel to it.  Fortunately, the authenticity is real.

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One of the many winding, organic and slightly confusing streets that are Cambridge.  Of particular interest to me was the numerous chimneys which ornate all of the buildings.  Many are not functional, but certainly hark back to the days of coal.  Retrofitting these buildings must have been a pain.  The facades are quite gorgeous, but a quick peek to the rear often bring to light the fact that it is very, very difficult to aesthetically hide modern wiring, HVAC, plumbing, gas and internet utilities within these buildings.

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King’s College

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My one England regret was not tracking down some of their oldest pubs.  This one isn’t particularly old, but it’s probably the oldest I saw.

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Yes, the Tour de France includes many other countries and in 2014 a stage was set for England, including a leg through Cambridge.  Obviously, I wasn’t aware of this at all.  The day after Julie’s wedding I patiently waited outside my hotel for 4 hours for 4 minutes of cycling.

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Crowd control was an issue.  This guy was losing his mind for about 5 hours.

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From 8am to 12:30pm (when the bikes finally arrived), it was a route of sponsors…with vehicle after vehicle circling the route blasting music and tossing candies and other flare.

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Four hours of waiting for four minutes of cycling.  I’m not a Tour de France fan.  I have no idea who these guys are.

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Cambridge, England.  With a dash of Tour de France.

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