La Ronde Picarde

Overall Distance   Time Taken  
Height Climbed   Overall Position n/a
Distance Climbed   Category Position n/a
Date September, 2005 Country France
Entrants   Region Somme

The 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 him.

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.

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