Sunday, 16 September 2012

Delica Daze

One of the most amusing tweets from this year’s tour was from David Millar:
Swept opening my curtains to find beautiful blue sky, and... The Deathstar. 
The days of pro-riders driving to races by their own means are well and truly over.  The tales recounted in Slayer the badger and Put me back on my bike offered an insight to the welcome escape from the peleton (and even team mates). The untimely death of Tom Simpson in 1967 resulted in him never collecting his Mercedez Benz 300sl Gullwing that was ordered just beofre the tour. There isn’t much room in that car, and how on earth he could fit a bike rack with gullwing doors is beyond me.  
I recently had the privilege of giving Graeme Obree a lift. Now, this may be a slight aberration for the Flying Scotman, after all the bicycle is his most frequent mode of travel. The reason was a request to help with transporting ‘the beastie’ for an initial speed run – more on that another day. One thing we did speak about during the short journey was kids and bikes, Graeme summed it up perfectly ‘kids and bikes are like fish’n’chips’.    
For me, putting bikes in a car/van etc paves the way for memories of adventures and hopefully new ones to recount. Ah, the onset of road trip fever. Some of the best road trips and memories where spent traveling across the UK and France. The vehicle of choice was owned by riding buddy and great friend, David. Other than his bikes, it was his pride and joy. The vehicle was a first series Mitsubushi Delica (aka Japanese passion wagon) or simply referred to as the van. We would push the van to ramming speed on long descents and David would cook its brakes chasing me and other Raid Pyrenean riders on the Col de Tourmalet descent to Sante Marie du Campan. The brakes were never quite the same and there was still a few days left of the raid and a trip to the French Alps via Mt Ventoux to contend with! As the support vehicle for the Raid Pyrenean it was a welcome sight parked up on a Col.   
who needs ac...

The huge tailgate would be open to provide shade and access to supplies of food and cool drinks. Tunes would normally be blasting out and on the dashboard, the bobbing Mr T would be keeping to the beat.  
You climbed what!? Yo crazie fool!
Morzine has been the mtb destination for the past five years and the van always cut the cloth in the town. Riders and locals would stop for a chat, it was the vehicle equivalent of a puppy. Maxine, the friendly owner of the Les Marmottes campsite would welcome us back in the summer and ‘Camp David’ would be erected. The van was a always a welcome sight after a day in the mountains and a few Mutzigs in Bar Robinson. The bbq would be lit, and with coolbox fan purring away in the background as a gentle reminder that the van’s battery had kept the beer cool. A perfect setting to kick back and reflect on a day in the mountains.  

David hit upon a major spot of bad luck in France during this summer's trip. The result, the van has been left to be crushed! I was gutted when he told me the news. Thankfully, David and the rest of the crew are all fine. As for the van, it will be replaced, but never forgotten. At least we the have memories of shredding the rad through the Alps, windows down and Booker T and the MGs drowning out the cowbells. 
This isn’t exactly a fitting end to this post, but this classic phrase from the ace BBC comedy - Still Game, always reminds me of the van and trips to Morzine   
‘Feel the burn Boaby, Feel the buuurrrn’  
The crazy Frenchies in a hot hatch pulling over and getting well out of the way of J189 NPR on it’s mission not to change down from 4th to 3rd certainly did.

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