Yesterday was the annual 'Ronde van Vlaanderen' - RVV race in Belgium, one of the hardest one day races in the cycling calendar, filled with brutal climbs on narrow cobbled farm tracks where falls and crashes are the order of the day and only true champions can win. The story goes that if the weather is good the crowd is 1/2 million - if the weather is bad the crowd is a million! This year's race was won by Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara from Slovak Peter Sagan after an epic duel up the last climb where Sagan broke under relentless pressure from Cancellara who went on to win by over a minute.
A bold plan to host a 'Round of Bowland' race in 2 years time would not only enhance the cycling credentials of the area (already boosted by Sir Bradley Wiggins) but also necessitate major improvements to the pitted and rutted tracks that pass for roads around Newton, Slaidburn and through Gisburn Forest. Local residents are hopeful that miles of new cobbles and setts will return these vital routes to a condition last seen in mediaeval times - cutting journey times and speeding progress.
Many hidden benefits will soon begin to flow from this visionary infrastructure project. Laying cobbles is a skill that is nowadays rare so local experts will be fully employed on generous bonuses whilst armies of navvies will be required for unskilled work. They will need food, accommodation and entertainment. Money will flow into local businesses and opportunities will be virtually limitless. A new golden age of commercial opportunity is dawning as the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter's wind gives way to the fragrance of spring sweetly scenting the air.