Quatre Jours de Dunkerque (A Reflection of Stage 1)

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By Marty Jemison —

Four Days of Dunkirk, Stage 1

5/3/00

Steffen Kjaergaard and I think we are pretty cool, on the high-tech side of things … in our small way …

I called Dirk our director for my flight info to 4 Jours Dunkirk… he was in the car traveling at 165kph from Switzerland. I was to have received an e-mail, but it was sent to an incorrect address. Stephan was in the car … he and I both have Psion 5 handheld computers + cell phones with modems inside…

Stephan sent me the team itinerary (my flight info) as an e-mail while traveling at 165 kph … Dirk had told me he would access his laptop when he arrived at the hotel … then I hung up. Stephan then sent my phone an SMS message   … my phone beeped … I got a small message indicating that he had sent an e-mail… So, within 5:00 minutes or so I had the e-mail, being downloaded to my Psion 5 via cell phone (infrared of course!!)

Who has time for someone to drive to a hotel boot up some PC (5lbs …heavy) etc. etc. …? times are changing… apparently Sony loves epoc as well…

4 Jours of Dunkirk is not 4 days long … it is 6 and it is 7 stages long   …. titles can be deceiving   ….

We are in the same area as 3 Jours de Panne   … two of the dreariest races on the calendar… it is miserable here… grey, cold, tsunami winds … bad roads … fast racing with many crashes and many many more near crash incidents…

How I wish I had a helmet cam … coming onto the circuits   … single file … echelons, quacking … nervous etc., etc. … Imagine going 65kph into the last 10m of a 150 degree turn. Slamming the brakes and then enter a ridiculously small, cobbled street.

On the second lap, the last lap, these variables are increased, and position is sooooo critical… I was just racing my bike, but later at the dinner table Levi gave an account of what happened. I punched it as we approached this hairpin turn, moving up the outside … I dove into the turn and hopped up onto the sidewalk … because those diving into the turn as well were knocking into each other. I avoided a quack and moved up nicely… I had great position … 3-4kms to go and in the top 10. (Small group off the front with Steve, who is also USPS)

Apparently, Levi was on my wheel and a line of others … the racing was exciting enough … but funny as well. (We saw humor in it anyway). Levi noticed, pinned against the wall standing on the sidewalk face against it… a woman shaking uncontrollably … … … not really a good place to be standing… riders will ride any line to better their position.

Also, on the circuit several riders dove for the bike path … including Cedric … … oops this path took them away from the road and to the other side of some train tracks … … not to mention a small fence   … of course we were singe file 60+kph. They had to stop and walk across … Cedric made it back but, I think he was the only one … Stephane stopped for him.

Robbie McEwen lost time today, he tried to take a shortcut as well but was confronted by stopped cars and a median separating us … I heard laughter    …. laughter even at top racing speed… he did not make it back. Lucky for him, the circuits were near.

After yesterday, I am back in the groove. I felt much better today. The peloton seems to be more in the groove   … everyone again adjusting (always) to this nervous racing.

Marty

PS: Managed some culture last week in Girona … the London Chamber Orchestra was in town. We joined what seemed like 200 persons for an incredible performance… held in a 1000+year old (small) converted church. The acoustics were outstanding…

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