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Orange Vespa Huskyteer

Bike Normandy, 5-7 August 2011: Saturday

On Saturday morning we headed to the wide, smooth road christened 'The Racetrack' by Bike Normandy, always the high point of Howard's trips there. John had the bright idea of filming the 'proper' bikes going along very slowly, but with the riders bent over the handlebars as if caning it, while the scooters zipped past.

It was glorious to be leading my pack, even though Jen, Howard and David shot past me in short order. I chased them down the hill, Doug snapping at my heels, and only a queue of slow-moving cars and a solid white line spoiled my run towards the end.

Halfway round the Racetrack my exhaust suddenly started to sound noisy again. Inspection revealed a gap a millimetre long between the downpipe and the silencer, and John promised to find a repair shop later in the afternoon.

Meanwhile I pressed on, making inappropriately Harleyesque noises. The afternoon's ride was somewhat spoiled by a large BMW with a Paris number plate whose driver objected to the idea of bikers overtaking him and expressed this by nearly taking David out.

I decided what would piss the driver off beyond anything else would be an overtake by a 200cc Vespa, so I made this my life's mission. Stupid, dangerous and provocative? Well, yes. But I bloody did it.

Meanwhile, at the front of the group, John had investigated a nearby bike shop and found it closed. So he took me to a lawnmower repair shop. The receptionist kept saying no, no, we don't do motorbikes, but the mechanic was much more obliging and patched the hole with a sheet of metal and some Jubilee clips.

We rejoined the others and had our final coffee stop before heading back. On the way the rain grew heavier and waterproofs were donned. With the prospect of a shower and dinner at the end of half an hour's ride, though, it didn't seem too bad, and I enjoyed following Howard through the puddles.

After dinner (goats' cheese toasts, duck with lentils, sauté potatoes and red cabbage, baked Camembert, bread-and-butter pudding, just for the record) we watched the day's events on film. The footage and accompanying comments were so hilarious I nearly choked on my Calvados.



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