Headline April 27, 2018/ '' 'ROUGE -ZONE- RIDES' ''



MORE THAN 80 RIDERS STARTED and about half of them finished. One rider took 39 hours to complete one stage.

They were an interesting crew. They included the irascible Henri Pelissier, whose wife shot herself and whose mistress subsequently shot him with the same gun.

There were soldiers returning to the sport after awful times and there was Charles Deruyter of Belgium who won  the race in 85 hours and one minute.

Like all professional cyclists, they would provide, -if studied-ample material for a generation of psychiatrists to ponder over in the search for both obsession and  meaning.

The race, sponsored by a newspaper, offered good prize money but it promised pain.

The seasoned veterans shook their heads at the dangerous road conditions, the dreadful weather and the day's riding that averaged out at 300 kilometres, about 190 miles in Brexit currency.

THE ZONE ROUGE was an area designated by the French government as so badly damaged by gas and shells that it would never be fit for cultivation or human habitation.

Starting and ending in Strasbourg, the race careered -sometimes plodded through Alsace, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Belgium and France. 

RIDING in the Zone Rouge is about a cycling ride worth taking.

All great cycling books are bonkers. There is the delusion in It's Not About The Bike, the Lance Armstrong autobiography that omitted that slightly significant detail of him taking more drugs than Keith Richards.

There is a single minded descent into shame and loss of David Millar's Racing Through The Dark, and there is the obsession of Richard Moore's In the Search of Robert Millar that has the coda that the erstwhile King of the Mountains has now transitioned to living as Philippa York.

It therefore follows that all good cycling books should be, well, at least eccentric. Saddle up, Tom Isitt. He rides in with the perfect fit for the genre.

A fifty something amateur but keen cyclist, Isitt has written his first book and it is worthy and sometimes daft, occasionally funny and regularly poignant, brilliantly focused in its research and often meandering in its execution.

Its subject is the Circuit des Champs de Bataillie in 1919.

This race was designed to traverse the battlefields of the recently ended First World War.

It covered more than 2000 kilometres in seven stages with riders ploughing through rudimentary roads falling into shell craters, nudging inch by inch up mountains decked in snow and all on machines that were heavy, unreliable and punctured more readily than Piers Morgan's ego.

This being a cycling book, Isitt adds his own brand of bonkerdom. He includes an account of his attempt to ride the race : engaging, witty and informative and deeply honest in that he admits he occasionally took the train.

All this was through the country that was destroyed by war and reeked of death.

As the Michelin guidebook of that year out it. ''Thousands of shells, shell casing rifles and machine guns lie scattered about. Corpses are occasionally seen.

The Honor and Serving of great Operational Research on Great Books, continues. The World Students Society honors writer Tom Isitt for his attempt to ride the race and produce this brilliant work which is engaging, witty, informative and deeply honest.

With respectful dedication to the Grandparents, Parents, Leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of France, and then the world.

See Ya all prepare for Great Global Elections and ''register'' on : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter -!E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Stage Race '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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