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Blois - Le Lude July 9th
22.07.06 by Buffalo Bill

100k (I think!)

Today was a hard day. I got lost coming out Blois. I wish that I had my map-holder (did I really say that?). Absolutely crawling along. Headwind. One of those days when you wish you could switch your brain off and let the legs do the work.

some field, somewhere outside Blois

Went off the road down a hill following signs for a Bar Tabac in search of a beer at about 4pm. Got to the bottom of the hill. Bar shut. Had to crawl back up the hill, cursing. It was that sort of day. Eventually pulled into the main square of this little town, and downed a beer at one of the two bars. Welcome sensation of cold bubbly liquid running down the back of dry throat.

4 local lads started chatting to me about what I was doing, how many kilos, where I was from, where I was going. Then all of a sudden they invited me to come with them to Le Mans to watch Le Final on the big screen. Which is how I ended up in a smelly car, with four smelly french boys, listening to French language dance-hall (yes, french dance-hall) heading towards one of motor-sport’s premiere venues. The roads were full of vintage racing cars, in town for the vintage 24 hour race. I hate cars, and I hate motor-sport. The boys are all obsessed by motors, and kept pointing out this or that 4 wheel monstrosity which deserved special attention. I say they were all obsessed, but that’s not true. Damien only seemed interested in beer.

the crowd and the 'ecran geant'

And so to Le Match. I used to love football passionately. I wouldn’t say that it was the love of my life, but the fortunes of Arsenal and England used to affect my moods in profound and lasting ways. When Dennis Bergkamp missed that penalty in the last seconds of the 99 semi-final replay I suffered a malaise similar to what I imagine a mild heart attack to be.

But now… football is too big. I don’t like Nike or Emirates at all, and they are the principal sponsors of my team. Except it’s not my team. Arsenal belong to the banks, and the sponsors.

And I have never liked the insensible disappointment that provokes Englishmen to explode into drunken violence in defeat. After I left London, England lost to Portugal. That night Tofu was subject to a vicious and homophobic assault by 2 thugs in Soho. Tofu had rebutted their casual and brutish taunts about his sexuality, and they knocked him down and kicked him in the head. I am ashamed to be English.

The French crowd reacted well to defeat. There were tears, and incomprehension, but no fights (at least not in Le Mans), despite the prescence of a large group of loud and proud Italians in the huge crowd.

Bonne chance a l’Equipe de France.

This is the fifth part of my journey to France, ‘Looking for Km 83

Part 6

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