The opening days of the Tour de France are called the Grand Départ, and as you know unless you’ve spent the last year under a rock, Yorkshire is hosting them this year. So, if you were going to celebrate the occasion by having a team of cyclists tow a large, horizontally stringed piano up England’s longest continuous climb, what would you call the event? The Grand Departs, of course.
On April 5, as a prologue to the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival (April 11-13), a team of Calderdale’s most resilient cyclists will pull a grand piano up Cragg Vale, the longest continuous ascent in England.
To haul the instrument, the riders will use a PianoPorté, a new invention by sculptor Andy Plant that has a 2CV gearbox as part of its gubbins. While they toil up the six-mile ascent, local and international pianists will play a specially composed musical work by the festival’s director David Nelson.
The piano-shifting team will set off from Mytholmroyd at noon on April 5, but aren’t guessing how long it’ll take to reach Blackstone Edge. It's a safe bet that that Richard Bideau’s and Vicky Clark’s Strava KOM and QOM of 16:26 and 19:03 respectively are in no danger.
However, Richard’s mark might be in trouble on July 6 when the second stage of the Tour heads up the Cragg Vale climb.
The Grand Departs is also an official part of Yorkshire Festival 2014, the first ever arts festival to precede the Tour’s Grand Départ in its 111 year history. It is also supported by Calderdale Council and Legacy Trust UK.
Want to take part? Drop the organisers a line at grand [at] imovearts.co.uk.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.