Prologue: (Zürich) to Paris to Chablis. Except it wasn't really.
25.05.2007 - 26.05.2007
Ten hours of beer drinking whilst standing in a train corridor later, I was in Paris. The support vehicle was somewhere here. I was supposed to be in it, but a private issue had come up suddenly, and thus instead of driving the support vehicle from Sweden to Paris (bollocks was I going to fly), I had had to make an unscheduled detour via Zürich. But I had at least made it to Paris, more than most people were expecting, and, in fairness, I was hoping. Excited - the word is stupid - cyclists were shortly to fly in from all corners of Scandinavia, and a photo shoot was planned by the Eiffel Tower. Ok, it never happened, but I did at least have the delights of trying to find two people waiting "at the Eiffel Tower" amongst the several thousand other people waiting in the same location. Which was bad enough even knowing who the heck they were, and just thankful I wasn't looking for strangers.
I should probably mention now that really, there isn't no point to this blog entry at all. I'd decided befoerhand that I should probably do an entry for each day, but looking back, nothing happened at all worth noting. So you may as well just skip this altogether. I will.
The rest of the intrepid adventurers cried off. We hadn't even started and we've already lost 10 people. This bodes well. So after a short wander to Notre Dame and the Louvre, a quick photo (of the 3 of us who had made it) by the tower to the confusion of the poor Japanese girl who took it, and it was time to head south. Now. Something that i suggest you don't do in future is put 3 cartographers in a vehicle with a speaking GPS and expect them to know where they are going. And trying to get out of the centre of a large city. For the next hour or so, with alarming regularity, Frederik (driver) and I were treated to a constant stream of the GPS lady saying things like "turn left in 200metres" at the same time as Mats was saying "No. Turn right in 200metres", normally whilst we were going the wrong way down one way streets and with the road signs suggesting we should be travelling in a 4th direction... But, at legnth, we somehow made it on La Periperique, where as tradition dictates, we then sat in traffic jams for a while before finally getting slung, swing shot like onto a useful-ish motorway heading south.
Oh, and apparently, we weren't actually going to Chablis at all. We were going to Tonerre, about 15km further East. Nobody tells me anything.
Astonishingly, within minutes of each other, and having missed a rain storm, we all actually arrived, in Tonerre, greeted, as you do in random towns in central France, by a couple of camels grazing outside the railway station in a rain storm. Even more amazingly, we had somehow managed to arrive with the requisit number (13. Of all the numbers of people to start with, why 13?) - and correct - bicycles, bags, clothing, spares, plus the most vital of all: doping products. We had all the beer, whiskey (and vitargo) we could need. What could possibly go wrong?
A refreshment or two in a local bar, followed by the curious discovery that we were sharing a hotel with a Belgian BMW owners club (who all drove bog standard average BMWs. It's just like having a Vauxhall Vectra owners club. There's just no point) and inspired by the discovery that the very rooms we were inhabiting would be taken by Tour De France teams barely 2months later, led to a spell of vaguely frenzied activity as bikes were assembled and checked. And with that it was time for a short warm up. Or, if you prefer, prologue.
Thus it was that in true team presentation style before a team time trial, we lined up with a motley assortment of 9 fully T-Kartor outfited cyclists, one with a T-Kartor top but Bianchi shorts (yup, muggins, the Tk shorts I had been given at that point were XXXXXXXL, and i, basically, am not) surrounding our star rider resplendant in his yellow jersey and shorts. Oh, and two two guys who decided to skip it and sleep instead.
About 120metres later, the road started to go uphill and we all suddenly started wondering what the bloody hell we were doing. An hour or so later, and after covering barely 16 miles, I was lying knackered on the grass infront of the hotel preying like hell for some kind of salvation, or other useful excuse which would prevent my having to ride. A meteorite to wipe out Earth, maybe.
This is going to be a hard week. And we don't actually a support driver. He's in China
((with apologies for lack of photos in this thrilling, not really, installment. I don't have any, but i'll try and add them in when i scrounge them later.))