Trialing Times

Friday night we all reconvened after the stage for dinner in the Château. A four-course meal was laid out for us by the innkeeper and the entertainment was provided by all. I ate so much and laughed so hard that my stomach still hurts! It ended up being my favorite night thus far.

The next day was the time trial stage and once again the keys to the kingdom delivered us directly to the finish line where Beth and I took full advantage of our credentials to watch the top GC contenders cross the line. Then we managed to sneak right up to the awards ceremony with all of the photographers. Andy Schleck threw his flowers to the crowd and Beth and I started throwing elbows like we were single girls trying to catch the bridal bouquet. Unfortunately Andy threw the flowers towards the crowd and not in the photo pit, so all we got was an up close look at him and the other day’s winners.
Everything was going so smoothly for us. Even the drama of having the car confiscated and getting the rental had proven relatively easy and mostly entertaining. Life was charmed, easy-breezy, smooth sailing and then I lost the key to the rental car somewhere between the 500 meter mark and the finish line in the midst of 50,000 spectators. This was catastrophic.

I don’t speak French, our luggage and Roberto’s was locked securely in the car as was our French phrase book and our computers. Beth, Roberto and I spent at least ten minutes each tearing apart my bag in search of the key and none of us could find it in any pocket, crease or corner.

Roberto kindly offered to stay and help us sort this out, but he had to get to Paris and cover the final stage of the Tour in the morning so Beth and I gently yet swiftly kicked his butt into Craig and Jen’s car and sent him off. I have never in my life lost my keys. Never! Beth and I walked back to our parking spot praying I had somehow dropped the key near the car, which would be our only hope of stumbling across a lone key in the aftermath of a Tour stage.

My mind was racing… Alright I’ll call Hertz and see if there is any way they can get a locksmith here to open the car. Then Beth can catch a train to Paris so Roberto has his clothes for tomorrow’s coverage. I’ll stay here and try to figure out how to get a new key made… And then somehow I will navigated the streets of Paris alone and find everyone again before the finale.

No keys at the car. So I called the Hertz emergency line. As I was navigating the press #1 for English, and #2 if you are an idiot who has lost your key, prompts I reached into my bag for a pen and came out with the key.

I have no idea how we all missed it. I must assume that the universe decided at that moment to substitute my previous wish for a leprechaun and a pot of gold with something far more valuable. I screamed and ran off skipping down the road, Beth ran after me overjoyed, we hugged and spun in circles and skipped together. And celerated with a swig of hot vin rougue.

Now back in the car, we headed towards Paris. I called Roberto to tell him that we were back on track and as it turns out he was behind us caught in traffic, so a few blocks later he jumped out of Hummer’s car and in with us. We rolled into Paris around 10pm.

Driving around Paris has never been a dream of mine, but it seems that my penance for getting to ride Roberto’s coattails was that I would have to chauffer him through Paris on a super busy Saturday night. Not to tell a nation how to run it’s roads, but I’m just saying that rather than all those years spent trying to conquer and convert… the French could have dedicated their energies to instigating a serious of lane dividers, decipherable signage and traffic signals. And rather than using the public squares for guillotining so-called heretics, you could have made them into real roundabouts not the free-for-all melees they are now. I mean… I’m just saying…

We arrived finally at our hotel and I retired to a bar stool where my shaking hands were calmed by my first glass of champagne in Paris. Ahhhh Paris.


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