The arrival (and, more importantly, imminent departure) of the Tour de France in Cambridge, with its vast wagon train of logistical support and curious onlookers, has brought out the best and worst in cycle-related activities and puns.
The Scott-Polar museum, for instance, is promoting an exhibition on the use of the bicycle wheel as a technology in the polar regions, which actually sounds intriguing, if a little contrived. The website gives no indication as to what those uses might have been (hence the intrigue), but I imagine it was not actual cycling, on the whole.
At the other end of the spectrum, someone has organised a musical event, which through various commissions will première (and most likely dernière) a cycle of songs. There are bandwagons, and then there are weak puns thought up over a pint that somehow become actual things. Needless to say, there will be an app.
It’s all because of the purity of sport, of course. Cycling may not be the purest of sports (or it may in fact be just that, depending on how you cut it), but even if it were, the Tour brings in its wake colossal cashfalls – the last time it was in Britain it was estimated to generate 88 million pounds for Kent and the South East. How these figures are calculated I do not know, but the lure of it may explain the bunting, the song-cycles, and the bicycle-related exhibitions, where museums trawl their basements for anything with spokes and a bell. Because if there’s one thing visitors to the Tour de France will crave, it is bicycle-related merchandise.
In other exciting Tour-related news, a group from the Department of Engineering and the University Information Services (UIS) has wired up Parker’s Piece for WiFi. Six ‘Victorian-style’ lampposts have had hidden WiFi points installed, so those of us lucky enough to see the Tour push off will be able to follow its progress down through Cambridge on our various devices without moving or looking up.