Dear Reader: Facebook outrages + Tour de Yorkshire fatigue

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

An example of the effort put into the Tour de Yorkshire.
An example of the effort put into the Tour de Yorkshire.

Heated debates flare up all the time on this newspaper’s Facebook pages.

Some are reasoned, others so unreasonable as to be shocking.

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Some die down almost as soon as they’ve started, others go on in an informative fashion for days and weeks.

But one post caught my attention in particular recently.

A reader was arguing that too many houses were being built in the district, not a new complaint in itself.

What was interesting was that the reader also addedthat too many houses were being built in the wrong place at the wrong price.

And that’s the nub of the issue which has rumbled on as a result of the bonfire of planning rules ignited by the current government.

No matter whether you’re posting or tweeting or poking, there’s an inconvenient truth everyone seems reluctant to face up to.

What our district really needs most of all is genuinely cheap housing for young people and lowly paid workers in the service sector.

There they went! Not being a big fan of cycling, personally speaking, I wasn' that fussed about the Tour de Yorkshire coming here, even if Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins is taking part.

In fact, if I never saw another man in lycra riding a bike in my whole life that would be just fine.

But it was a hard event to avoid - even if you weren't bothered about finding a good spot this weekend to watch the leading pack race through the likes of Pateley Bridge and Knaresborough, Tadcaster and Ripley, or Cote de Greenhow Hill, even.

But I was quietly delighted by all the hullabaloo and disruption.

And not merely because of the economic benefits the Tour undoubtedly bringa to the district.

Some things go beyond sport.

The way I felt about the Tour de Yorkshire is fairly similar to how I felt about the Tour de France.

The more I tried to ignore it in those memorable few days nearly two years ago, the more I felt drawn to it.

When it came to the crunch - or ‘le crunch’ - I found myself squeezed like toothpaste in a tube in an overcrowded space at the top of Montpellier Hill in Harrogate desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the final sprint of the first stage .

Such was the crush I saw nothing of local favourite Mark Cavendish’s disastrous crash, though I certainly heard the groans of the people who did see it.

Still, I enjoyed the experience so much, I found myself among the crowds on the pavement outside Harrogate Golf Club for more than two hours the very next day in the hope of seeing Chris Froome in the flesh.

I was lucky. The ace cyclist whizzed right past me.

I saw the whites of his eyes. I could feel the wind of his wheels blowing across my face.

Then, five seconds or so later, the moment was over.