They always arrive expressing a mixture of confusion and desire at the secret controle located at la Maison qui Pue du Désir muses ACP official RBA Bob Eagle. This year Bob has volunteered to work a secret controle located in one of the more popular bordels of Mortain au Perche. La Maison qui Pue du Désir is always busy, but running 6000 randonneurs through this place is a big production and the volunteer staff is quickly wearing out. Already several volunteers have failed to show up for their workshifts, claiming RTD infections.
Finding Volunteers for the controles is getting harder and harder each year Bob realizes. He thought the perks of working the whorehouse contrôle would attract plenty of volunteers ready to serve, but strangely the turnout is dismal. Despite the setbacks Bob enjoys his volunteer work, especially the side benefits. His favorite perk is his uniform, which he can’t seem to stop checking in the mirror and sending selfies off to his riding buddies. The uniform is a little more confining than his usual RBA outfit of a doo rag and a chamois, but he finds it workable.
Sir ! Exclaims volunteer Royston, Sir ! We are running dangerously low on proflactiques and there is some SFR rider who won’t stop banging the volunteers ! We are worried that the ACP will be giving out a record number of Hors Délais this year and that might mess with our RUSA stats ! Bob ignored Royston while admiring himself in the mirror doing a few jumping jacks when he realized the word ‘stats’ was mentioned.
Fuck! Stats! Who is fucking with my stats!
‘No sir, this rider is banging the volunteers not the stats. I fear someone has laced his ensure with some sort of aphrodisiac.’ Explained Royston, who in good taste was wearing a simple black dress.
A rider wearing varying shades of high vis over the glorious blue, white and green of the SFR club stumbled into the room just then and started to hump Bob. Bob secretly wished he were RBA of that club, a club with some real stats, but sadly that RBA is not likely to be stepping down for a long long time. Bob knew if he did not get this rider back on the road he would be getting a nasty and lengthy email with damning snippets of previous emails soon.
‘Sir! I say sir! Bob challenged the preoccupied rider. Good sir. If you make a go of ceasing congress with me I may not dock you three hours for humping an ACP official. What say you good sir?’
The rider briefly continued his rhythmic movements but suddenly he gave up, mumbling something about paying his money and pressing the button but getting no satisfaction.
Bob shook his head in disgust and demanded the brevet card. Bob signed it and admonished the rider ‘Don’t you know humping ACP officials qualifies as stupid stuff? What about your oath!’
Sheepishly the rider agreed, but still mumbled something about where were his pancakes and that he pressed a button too. Bob gave up and went back to the mirror, thinking of simpler times in the Myacamas, seemingly a world away from the secret control of la Maison qui Pue du Parfum du Désir.
On the third day we ate Joey. We had started PBP with the usual carefree hopes, giggling like schoolgirls on a brisk spring morning before the sun shined upon our journey. As soon as we cleared the sheepfold where we left our innocence and our clean clothes the sky closed in and we were drenched. Then it hailed for the next 40 kilometers.
Joey never acknowledged the name we gave him. He attached himself to our group without invitation and we had to call him something. Joey tended to boast of his career and his family while speaking to the air. Perhaps he addressed the flock of small birds that scattered at his erratic movements, feeding on the crumbs of food that never quite made it to his mouth. Joey often became strangely indignant without discernable reason.
Being August, most stores were closed, and we did our best with the french gas station food but the empty calories did little for our spirits or our stomachs. We relieved our hunger by singing songs of lost family and lost pets – lost hopes – and continued on the motorways in heavy truck traffic.
Three times we stopped to call the DORC for directions and needed encouragement, but we were left unanswered in the obscuring mists. The locals after hi-fiving us would fade away, equally unwilling to answer our calls. There was nothing for it but to continue, so we did.
Joey’s cry was more a low animal grunt when he crashed into Marshall’s side and did not move again after we picked ourselves up and assessed the damage. No one would admit to the idea or admit to trying the first bite, but someone did, and then we ate him. A small boy came out from the bakery we were in front of, dropped his platter of croissants and ran. The croissants soaked up the savory juices, completing our repast and saved us from cracking his bones for marrow. We shooed the birds away after cleaning the final crumbs of Joey from our team kits. His spare tubes and multi-tools were distributed but no one wanted his shoes even though they fitted us all.
We finished in sated silence. They offered us medals in honor of hors delais but we just kept on riding. Riding to escape what happened, riding to regain what was lost. Riding, ever riding…
‘More Sherry!’ my interviewer called to the reluctant waiter. ‘Double quick, if you want a tip!’ She then intimated to me that she preferred to keep her wait staff and her men on the run serving her. ‘Reminds them who is most important – me.’
Why this head reporter and editor from the American Randonneur thought that would help me share the intimate details of my recent completion of the Brest/Marseilles Diagonale – one that was being contested by those dyspeptic autocrats of the ACP – I was quite unsure of.
What I was sure of was her magnetic beauty, and sure I was confused by her curious nom-de-plume for an editor of a randonneuring newsletter, Cherryh Jerkhoff. We were meeting at a waterfront bistro in Marseilles so I could recount for her my recent intrepid adventures in completing my fifth and final diagonal, one of very few individuals to do so, and thus the damnable investigation by the ACP. Suspicious bastards!
With a flip of her locks she fixed me with her ice blue eyes and shot at me ‘How is it that you are almost the only person in existence to complete all five Diagonales of France and yet you have never completed PBP?’
“That is because they do not record in the great book the workers rides that take place two weeks before the grand dance! (or is it the big party? No matter) Just one more thing to make me bitter in my attitude toward those prigs in Paris”. Randos love a story filled with misery Cherry and you are gonna love this one.
I had signed up for the workers ride in 2006 as I was volunteering at the start for the ACP. I thought, stupidly, that I would escape the wandering, crashing riders from all over the world on the road and the shuffling and snoring zombies of the controles. Thank the BRM we did not have to ride audax, as we are often required to in the US.
I soon tired of having to wait in line for both getting my card stamped and for the cafeteria food and resolved to forage the countryside for fueling my ride. Croissants and brie I found in huge amounts, but precious little water. I did find large magnums of this wonderful stuff Vin Rouge. Vin Rouge makes the miles pass in comfort! Well, it was somewhere outside Fougeres that I got crepe poisoning from a roadside stand. I had been enjoying kabobs for the last several hundred kilometers and thought I could use a change – big mistake.
The crepe poisoning advanced quickly causing my left leg to swell immensely and by Carhaix they had to take my leg. That was a bit of a setback. But then somewhere in the middle of the night on the way to Brest I stopped to pee and how was I to know that the fence around the nuclear plant was electrified? I sure got a wake up then!
After the flash of light and the smell of burnt flesh (smelled of pork – mmm, pork) I was quickly on my way and boy did my little Pierre hurt! Little Pierre soon swole up to BIG Pierre size and hurt like hell, but at least lacking my left leg I had enough room for big ol Pierre. After a while hopping around on one leg, jostling my sensitive Pierre almost constantly, I lost my sense of judgement and got pretty soused on Vin Rouge.
A bit tipsy I stopped somewhere outside Brest on the ‘retoure’ and relieved myself on a pile of sulfur outside a vineyard. When I peed on the pile a puff of smoke arose and it was a Genie! Like all Genies I got a wish and mine was for the pain of big ol Pierre to go away and dammit if that Genie did not take my Pierre!
‘My god! Your best part! You poor man!’ exclaimed Cherry.
Yes, I agreed, it is enough to lose your leg in a randonnee, but to lose your Pierre as well is devastating to say the least. Why I got so depressed with my head hanging low that I developed shermer’s neck.
Topping off this developing fiasco, when I stopped in Plounevezel at an automat I was joined by Brad Feinstein, a fellow volunteer. Brad is known for crazy hair, bad equipment and a wandering eye that matched his riding style. The automat was working slow and my tuna sandwich was taking forever to emerge from the machine and while I was waiting for my sandwich Brad put his money in the machine too. I was then distracted for a moment by some street urchins creeping toward my trusty steed, the Bucephalus. When I turned back Brad was trying to open the packaging of my sandwich! ‘What the fuck asshole, that’s my sandwich!’ snatching it away, ‘your pancakes are hung up on the corkscrew in the machine, go fish.’
‘I put money in the machine too!’ Exclaimed the enraged imbecile ‘and I pressed the button!’ He proceeded to tackle me and try to take my sandwich. I suppose you might find the moment comical, myself hopping about on one leg swinging punches and snatching bites of my sandwich while not really being able to hold my head up very well. After tussling for about 10 minutes I finally ate my sandwich and Brad had nothing left to fight but the automat for his pancakes. I left him beating on it and shaking the whole machine, hoping it might fall on him.
You can imagine now how tough things were getting for me – no leg, no dick, fighting for my food and now my neck won’t hold my head high in what little dignity I have left. I limped back into Carhaix (a lot happened in just a few hundred klicks) where they were keeping my leg on ice. The doctor looked me over and decided to prop my head up with my leg.
Well, that was a real boost to have my head up again and sort of being reunited with my leg and well, dammit I finished that ride in 70 hours to keep my leg from getting too ripe. I also learned later that Brad finished 5 hours outside the time limit, but somehow he got more recognition than I did from the local club – go figure.
That day the docs in Paris reattached my leg and most recently in Morrocco I got a Pierre transplant from a donor. I have to say I had to go a size up in my pants for that…
‘Oooo!’ Exclaimed Cherry.
So, enough of that story, you came here to learn about my intrepid diagonale conquering! Which is almost as entertaining as my 4th of July UFO story. Where was I?
‘Those stories can wait Rupert. I have a voter rights meeting to go to now, and then my weekly WOMBATS soiree. You need to focus when I ask a question and stop running on at the mouth. You are your own biggest fan and it is not pretty.’
Guess the recounting of my 5 diagonale raids will have to wait until the next issue…
Hors Delai and Bonne Route! Rupert Smedeley
Phew, that was an exciting PBP this year! Such an inspiring event results in plenty of creative juices and tomfoolery falling off the low-hanging fruit of absurdity tree!
During the next few days, excerpts from the mysterious Suppressed Tales of the American Randonneur (sometimes known as STAR) will be posted from issues negative one and zero. Hard copies are hard to come by folks but look around your local bike shops and maybe someone can hook you up.
Cheers, Perci Crockaphone
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