La Ronde Picarde
Ronde Picarde was meant to be a nice relaxing ride that was to keep me fit
and motivated between July's Luc Alphand and October's L'Eroica.
The five hour drive to the
event was an eye-opener. I'm ploughing along at 98 mph (cruise
control only works up to 100!) on an empty peage, when I see two cars in
front of me.
As I get nearer the second car
begins to overtake the first then sits there. I get closer and
closer but he just sits there, for almost a kilometer; we're now at 70
mph. As he pulls in I overtake and get back up to 85 mph when all
these lights and sirens go off. It's an unmarked police car!
Being a scouser my first reaction is to floor it and out run him.
But I fight my natrural instincts and ease off. He pulls alongside
and indicates that I should slow. He goes in front of me and
maintains a steady 80 mph. So I sit a respectful distance behind
The next half-hour sees
hundreds of French cars come screaming up behind me, pull out to overtake,
see this totally non-descript car then slam their brakes on. Now, I
know a bit about cars. I studied every square centimetre of that
car. Remember I was behind it for a long time and had a vested
interest in its make-up, but I couldn't find a single mark that gave it
away. Yet here were the French picking it out 100 metres at 100 mph!
How does that work?
Anyway, to the event; or non event. To cut a long
story short, We ended up staying in an Etape Hotel, the ones with the bunk
bed over the normal bed. Dianne got up at 5:00 am to powder her nose
(she's a lady of a certain age) and on getting back in to bed, in the
pitch black, she walked straight in to the metal frame at the end of the
bunk! The room shook, there was a groan and as I was having trouble
getting back off to sleep I decided to get up. Dianne's on the floor
with a damp hand; oo-er.
I switched the light on and it's like a scene out of
Psycho. The blood, not the old woman! We get dressed, attempt
to mop the blood up from the walls and the floor and head for the
hospital. Which we found after half an hour. Even at five in
the morning nurses look sexy and when the doctor came he looked even
sexier. I'm told. So six stitches later we leave the hospital
and head for the race start. We get there just as it's about to
begin and I hand in our timing chips.
Dianne wanted me to do it so she could have a sleep in the
car. Not fancying the possibility of finding her dead in the car
when I came back I said I'd make the ultimate sacrifice and stay with her
in case I had to make an insurance claim at a later date. We had a
little breakfast and headed back on our five hour drive.
"Watch out for disguised police cars" she said! "Yeh,
right, how the bloody hell am I going to notice..." I cut myself
short and blamed the knock on the head.
Unfinished business, we'll be
back next year.