‘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