An American in Paris
22.07.08 by Ms Nhatt Attack
a report on the ECMC pre-event in Paris. Pics by Selimski
I’m not sure if anyone is interested in what happened in Paris, but at least it’s something about cycling in France that doesn’t have to do with really really boring drugs. I hear that shit won’t even make you hallucinate.
We got into Gare du Nord on Friday afternoon Just in time to put our bikes back together and ride to the registration point for the Panam Experience. When you’re a courier, you think that there are some things that will just come naturally to you, you know, like the things that you bitch about telephonists at your company not doing, like getting a contact name/ ref number/ proper address, or things that rookies do, I.E. not bringing a map with them on their first day. So, Neither Selimski or I had thought to bring along the organizers phone number, or to print out a map to get us to the registration point where they would be giving out free maps. I did write down the address, and while I guarded the bikes from the junky famlies that live outside the station (complete with dogs, mattresses, small children and the french equivalent of white lightning), S found a bookshop and tried to discreetly draw a map of Paris before he could be thrown out for being a cheap skate. Classic entry to an international courier event.
The most disturbing thing about the Paris messengers is that they make their events run on time. No, I’m not kidding. They actually started the Friday night touriste alley cat (non-locals only) at exactly the time that they said that they would. I had to drink my beer in record time (one can, 45 min.) to make the start of the race. Fortunately for me I met up with Stoyanka, the native Parisian who now works at XL, before the race and coerced her into agreeing to race with me. As a native she wasn’t allowed to win any prizes but was allowed to take part.
Unlike our pre-event Friday night race last year (see, the london muppet alley cat) this was a very fast and strait forward race, and on my best days I reckon that I’m only nearly as fast as Stoyanka, so it was a massive challenge for me to keep up with her while traffic kept coming from unexpected directions and round abouts kept sprouting up not entirely unlike oxford street pedestrians. The best bits about riding in Paris has to be that alot of the city has been properly paved in the last ten years and feels amazingly smooth, and that the traffic is so baffling that the pedestrians are afraid to cross without a green man. Fantastic! In the end we came joint 3rd/4th girl, the winner being Kym from NYC (words I reckon most of us have heard far too often. I’m thinking of quitting my day job to go into full training mode before Eindhoven just so I can beat her at one event. Anyone want to take some time off work to yell at me to go faster with a megaphone while sipping banana daquiris?). For the blokes Kai Edel won.
Selimski stayed out of this race to fiddle with his camera, Ryan (the other half of TEAM AWESOME! to make it to Paris) showed up after the race having necked a bottle of wine as his only food intake for the day and Delphina showed up a few hours after the race with her radio still on her bag after some long complicated and epic journey that I couldn’t understand involving boats, buses and other forms of transport sponsored by the letter b.
Alot of people then took a really long ride to a park so that they could drink more and fall off their bikes, we walked home and went to bed.
The Saturday main race kicked of EARLY from the statue of liberty. I planned to race with Delphina as she knows the city, but, like most good ideas, this one didn’t really work out. We ended up riding with a group of boys that I thought were Parisian, and they were riding fairly fast so I stuck with them losing Delphina somewhere near this really weird wooden bridge. The people I had assumed were locals were actually from french Switzerland, and had no clue where we were and under stress we couldn’t really understand each other or the tourist map that the organizers had given us. So at the next checkpoint I ran into Selimski who was racing by himself and he allowed me to tag along with him. Just remember that no good deed ever goes un-punished. We got very lost, and after racing the day before I was quite slow, but he humoured me and we ended up getting to the end hours and hours later, at which point he even turned in my manifest for me. Let me re-iterate that no good deed ever goes un-punished.
Gab Fernandez was the winner for the boys, not too sure who won for the girls but I do have a pretty fair guess.
The end of the Saturday race was outside of Paris proper, and we spent a few hours hanging out drinking beer and watching skids, trackstands and other sillyness commence, most of which was won by Jumbo and Kym. I managed to finish 4 beers in 3 hours, which is nearly a personal record, and so I hail the saturday as a great triumph.
Sunday was the Track day, which we skipped as it was also outside of paris and a massive ride to get to. In the evening was the prize giving for the whole event at the Sacre Cuer, which we rocked up to a little on the late side. I couldn’t be asked to lock my bike up so was holding up both mine and Selim’s for about ten minuted before he convinced me I shouldn’t be quite so lazy and we started to wander off to find some fence, just in time for Selim to be called up to the “stage”. Turns out he was the last person to bother to turn in his manifest for Saturday and had won DFL, mostly because he was a gentleman and had turned mine in before his. So in the end a Londoner did win something from Paris.