Since this post is technically about the ride, I will spend but a minute on the other spectacle that was the pre-ride. This included getting to France, getting checked in, figuring out where everything was and generally avoiding trouble.
Trouble came in spades for many people during the 2 days before this ride. Since everything worked out okay for those in question, I personally found the trouble to humorous as only real trouble can possibly be.
First, trouble came to my one night roommate, Greg, whom Lufthansa charged $375 for putting a bike on a plane between Berlin and Paris. Road Pixie has added this airline to the no-fly list along with Aeroflot (which I rode 20 years ago and emerged from feeling as though I had dive bombed Kabul). To make matters worse, the bike emerged from the box with the cranks locked. After much yanking, we eventually got them to the grating stage which was enough to ride the bike to the starting control mechanic. In a stroke of luck, I waited in the mechanic line, while Greg waited in the paperwork line. Thus, it was my smiling, innocent female face that handed the bike over to the French mechanic who sternly lectured me for bringing such a severe problem to France, but said he would fix it "because there are so few women and you are very jolie (cute) and it would be a shame that you could not ride". I followed up with "vous avez sauve ma vie, monsieur, je donnerai votre nom a mon premier fils" (you have saved my ride and I will name my first born son after you). This elicited a big smile and no charge. While not a perfect repair, the cranks at least made it through the ride. Martin, who was with us, was on his own for his bad shifting, he got the "how could you show up with worn out cables for this ride" lecture.
Next spot of trouble was waiting at the hotel. SpinBob's wallet had been stolen right out of his hotel room. Really, he has horrible luck, his wallet got stolen on his last trip to France as well. What better way to spend an afternoon than translating at the police station? Happily, there was no monetary loss, just hassle. And the police detectives at the police station where HOT (capitals included on purpose here). They all had guns and managed to make them conform to their hips to make them look even better. Really, the actresses on american television don't look half as good. The only one not packing heat was the superintendent (the only guy), I missed the picture of the trip by not taking his picture with his compatriots (think French Charlie's Angels here).
All my fussing and bother really paid off here. I read in the RUSA book that you should go over your bike with a fine tooth comb and changed the cassette, big chain ring, tires, tubes, cables, and chain 1-2 weeks before the ride and pre-tested everything. My only issue wound up being a bad battery in my cyclocompter and that was an easy on site fix. I didn't even have a flat tire on this ride. Hats off to Carly and Andy at Eriks in St Louis Park - they went the extra mile to put my bike in perfect working order.
I also had the pleasure of running into Ken from Louisville and doing the warm up ride with him. The big pre-ride is known for lots of wrecks but we managed to get lost enough to wind up avoiding the crowds for a lovely pre-ride "did I put this bike together right" jaunt. We also had a nice walk in Paris too along with SpinBob. Must go back to Louisville and ride again!
Other than that, I bought some very nice, cheap French leg warmers for the ride which later made an excellent splint for my hamstring. It's the highest point of fashion to get multiple uses out of a single object. My French friends in grad school turned garbage bags into mock leather to dress as hookers for Halloween and looked awesome doing it. While not as chic, my leg warmers served me well.