|Written by Steve Strain|
|July 03, 2000|
I took the bride across the pond this spring for one of those birthdays ending with a zero. In the new millennium no less. I told her of my plans way back in the fall when Paris was but a young man's fancy and the prospect of London as close as the man on the moon. Miss Karen was excited at the prospect of Europe in the spring (early spring) and then got suspicious. Of me. And me a lawyer no less. "What bike ride is going on?" "None dear." She asked if it was the Tour or the Giro or one of those spring classics I get so excited about. And if the Waterford was going. I assured her that we were not going so I could ride bikes. We were going strictly for her birthday. To be together. To maybe buy some cool jerseys. See where the Tour ends in Paris. I later learned that the Tour of Normandy would be going on while we were in Normandy. "Aha" was the bride's reply. The husband, caught again. I protested that I didn't know it at the time but with little success.
So we got passports and tickets and told the federal government that we weren't international terrorists and loaded up on the airplane with three hundred of our closest friends and flew to England in seats designed for the typical midget traveler. Upon arrival in London I bought several British cycling magazines and thought Euro thoughts. We toured in London and walked and looked at stuff and did the theatre thing. I went on the Tabby T diet of cocktails and wine and rich food for training. Very European. And then it was off to France.
We took the Channel to Calais where they drop you off in the middle of nowhere. The conductor said, "Monsieur, this is where Americans get off." We got off the Eurostar train and there was nothing to be seen. No station, no town, no cows; nothing. We followed the exit signs (our only French besides Allez! Allez!) and found our rental car. As we were leaving the station we came upon the French version of Chattanooga Bicycle Club. Except they were all identically dressed. I thought they might be a team except some of the riders did not look quite like members of the European peloton. Maybe candidates for Team Bubba.
Alas we didn't ever see the Tour of Normandy even though the bride was willing to go. But we did go to a bike shop in Paris, run by two little old ladies who spoke no English, and bought jerseys and shorts and anything else that the bride approved. The bride overcame the language barrier with the magic of her Visa and American Express and even ventured off into a department store without me. I think she figured out there were things to do without the husband in France and they do sell little shoes and antiques. Because when it was all said and done she said, with no prompting, maybe we should come during the Tour next year. And follow it. I of course replied, "only if you really want to, dear."