I want to pause here and take stock: something I didn’t at all have the time or space (mentally, literally,) to do on Friday.
On Thursday, I rode 56 miles from my home in London to the Port of Newhaven. I left at 10am and took a very nice lunch break for an hour in a pub before arriving in Newhaven at 3:40. So I’d ridden Vespa for a little less than 5 hours. (I know, Dear Readers, I’ll be corrected if I make any mistakes in these numbers.)
I had a lovely, relaxing evening in a pub in Newhaven with food and drink and free wi-fi, and boarded the ferry as soon as I could, making it to bed by 11pm. I didn’t sleep very soundly, but I did get a hot shower and then a rest from about 11 until 3; (4 hours).
On Friday, I rode off the ferry at Dieppe at 3:30 am, and made it to Pontoise by about 1:30pm. I’d had no proper sit-down-and-warm-up-and-eat stops, and I’d stood around outside for about two hours while some really nice Frenchmen helped fix my Vespa.
So, I’d ridden 141 miles in the past 2 days.
I’d been travelling for 10 hours that day.
I’d eaten: 1/2 an apricot oat bar, another fruit bar, one croissant, and about eight coconut macaroons. This adds up to about 1,239 calories. I’d drunk 1 bottle of water.
The average recommended caloric intake stated by the UK Department of Health for women is 2,079 calories per day. However, in extreme conditions (and here I take numbers as recommended by winter camping, which I think is fair because of the continual state of cold I was in, which I shouldn’t have allowed – I cannot adequately describe how cold I was,) I should have been consuming more like 4,500 calories, possibly more.
None of this is to instil pity, because I brought all of it upon myself. However, looking back, I see I might have handled things somewhat differently. (But what, she asks – called in a helicopter to air-lift me and Vespa the hell out of there?)
Now, I was in Pontoise. Vespa was happily full of the correct petrol-and-oil mixture she requires.
I, meanwhile, felt like my soul had been skinned, scraped, and hung to dry. And I was worried that I wasn’t going to make it to the stations on time, considering how long everything else had taken me. I was in a Do Not Stop mental state.
My initial travel estimates, when I was warm, safe, and dry in London, were to double the time estimated by car. This worked for my trip to and from Cambridge, and to Newhaven. The D915 route by car from Dieppe to Paris is 3 and a half hours, so I’d estimated 7 hours, plus breaks, plus contingency ‘in case anything happens.’ (Such as Kelley putting Diesel in the scooter. Ahem.)
We can now see that this estimate was unrealistic.
Paris Gare du Bercy was still some 4o km, or 25 miles, away – but only, ostensibly, by motorway (that sneaky N14 / A15,) and then straight through the heart of Paris, past the Arch de Triomphe, that infamous roundabout with TWELVE intersecting roads.
I probably don’t need to say this again, but I was exhausted. Not a safe state to be in when driving at all, let alone when riding a wee vintage scooter on a Big Scary Road.
So, Dear Readers, I hope you’ll understand why I chose to do what I did next.