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20120521 Bleedin' freezin' in the peessing rain at Le Mans

Jefferson Galt

Le Mans, Late May. It's supposed to be summer. It was snowing in England last week. Here, a couple of hundred km south, it's peessing down, as our French friends pronounce it. But we are at the circuit because it's just down the road from the house and it would be a shame to miss the race. No matter how cold, it's heart-warming to see Valentino Rossi up at the front - second place for the first time since he joined Ducati. Perhaps the conditions give us a hint as to what is usually wrong with the bike: going slower and the conditions greasier, Rossi doesn't brake so hard so the bike stays pointing in the right direction. Just a guess.

The 125 (now re-christened Moto-3) race was astonishing: riders made a break for the lead then promptly slid off. More than half the field fell off before the end of the race. Moto-2 wasn't much better. Recent deaths in top flight racing have been where a rider falls into the path of an oncoming bike. De Angelis fell off at high speed, separated from his bike and slid across the soaking grass with no chance of slowing down before careering into the middle of a fast-right hander in the path of oncoming traffic.

The danger had been telegraphed in an Australian V8 Supercar race just a few hours earlier where a car had an identical incident and the cars coming into the right hander couldn't see it approaching far off line, resulting in a very heavy impact. Incredibly, no one hit De Angelis.

Then the main event: really, by that time we were freezing cold, soaked to the skin, the previous two races had lasted way too long even though they had been action packed. It became difficult to concentrate on what was going on and who was where in the field.

But, as Rossi, Starfish's favourite, began to hunt down the leaders, all of that evaporated. The stands had been throbbing with excitement during the previous two races now, as everyone's hero looked like making what most hope is a "come-back" ride, they were jumping like a New York hotel bed at the height of the bed bug explosion. And as he took second place, the sound was like standing behind Concorde as it prepared for take-off.

So, it's sometime after 7 the next morning . I'm still not sure I've warmed up. Starfish is snuggled under a duvet hoping the ducks on the pond don't realise what it's stuffed with and I'm in the kitchen typing this while my tar-like coffee brews, the bread cooks in the oven (frozen rolls are a lifesaver) and the green tea is waiting to be made at the last minute so it's not too strong. The oranges are squeezed (well, pushed through a machine) and I've decided on home-made strawberry jam. What's left to do? Oh, I could wander into the garden and find a nice dew-covered flower for Starfish's tray.

Yes, I think that's what I'll do. And then enjoy the smile on her face as she wakes, senses the arrival of breakfast and reaches out to pull me back into bed.

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