“I can offer you three options today” the lovely lady at Emirates first class check-in begins. I had been ushered to that counter with my bike bag and suitcase in tow, wheels coming to an abrupt stop at the red carpet.
“You can either: 1. Leave some things behind, 2. Send some baggage unaccompanied, where they will charge you less than I will charge you, or 3. Pay the excess baggage charge at $60 per kilogram”.
Priced at $60 per kilogram, the excess luggage is as expensive as Australian black truffles.
Assessing my non-options, I confirm that I will pay for the excess baggage. “My colleague at the Service Desk will finalise the $300 payment and issue your boarding card”
Those damn Tim Tams packed safely better be savoured by my French friends as much as black truffles.
A full day later standing at the luggage carousel at Charles de Guile airport in Paris waiting for my suitcase I spy my bike bag wheeled to the baggage counter. That’s French (in)efficiency for you. Never have I received my bike bag before my suitcase.
A warm 27 degrees greeted my arrival. Champagne was promptly popped and the thought of black truffles, Tim Tams and Cedric my Cervélo were momentarily forgotten.
The following morning the bike bag is eagerly unzipped with the promise of training rides to Versailles and beyond only to discover every travelling cyclist’s worst fears confirmed. The bike is broken.
An assessment of the damage reveals that it’s only the rear derailleur hanger. Phew! One of the only sacrificial parts on a bike designed to break in case of impact.
I quickly learn that a rear derailleur hanger is a patte de derailleur arrieère, a paw of the rear derailleur.
The search for the Cedric’s paw begins with a quick check on the internet to show only a couple of Cervélo dealers in Paris. After some initial phone calls the situation is rapidly becoming dire. Non is repeatedly heard.
A glimmer of hope exists as a number of recommendations suggested trying the Triathlon Store, they will surely have the paw. Not surprising really that a triathlon store would be my saviour.
But hopes were quickly dashed when they too were empty handed. However, there was a very small chance that a store in Vanves, just outside of Paris might have it. My very last hope.
The search for the paw was very quickly feeling like a wild goose chase.
Searching through all the available paws in Vanves trying to match it up against Cedric’s ended in misery. No paw.
There is no Cervelo S5 paw in Paris or it’s greater region.
Thankfully, the following week I would be in the Chicago, where I was sure to find Cedric’s paw, but in the meantime no riding. C’est impossible!
A generous attempt to fit me on an ex-Europcar team issue 58cm Colnago really was quite futile.
The offer of Jobe the Hybrid was horrifying. I have standards.
Although, as the days passed, and the fromage, champagne and rosè was still being consumed with great vigour, Jobe started to become more appealing.
It is at this point that reinstating my once-held love of running seemed like a brilliant idea. With a park on an island in the middle of the Seine only 5 minutes away, I take off at a great shuffle.
Parc de I’ile Saint Germain is unlike any traditional French structured and manicured park. This park is concerned with maintaining the natural flora and fauna of the area, with wild elderberries and grapes growing freely amongst the meandering dirt trails, interesting monumental public art, and abandoned World War II military buildings.
|"La Tour aux figures" by Jean Dubuffet|
In my mind’s eye I feel that I’m running, while more and more people who are merely jogging or at best only braking into a slow canter are passing me.
The only person I manage to pass was an aged women, her arms straight by her sides, palms facing behind her doing what can only described as a forward motion of twerking. Yes! I’m a winner!