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A TRIAL OF ENDURANCE

Mossymakes it to the Bol D’Or, a 2,000 mile round trip, to get hammered, watch bikes and talk shite for 24 hours!

ENDURANCE RACING

As soon as we turned up it was obvious life wasn’t going to be luxurious. We four Brits might have felt fit to drop after our few days of excess en route, but any chance of rest and recovery looked slim. We pitched our tents in Friday evening’s darkness on ground so hard we’d had to hammer the pegs in. Along with the lack of any cushioning, the surround sound effect of bike motors being bounced off their limiters was hardly the stuff of lullabies.

It didn’t take long to find a solution, though, and once a couple of beakers of supermarket-sourced pink wine were downed, everything looked rosé… We were at the Bol D’or at Paul Ricard on the eve of the renowned 24-hour race. Everything was set for a bonkers weekend. Camped amongst the atmospheric racket generated by tens of thousands of French endurance fanatics blowing off steam, the weather was fine, the mood even better. Clearly the Bol is a massive biking institution with a vast array of stuff to sample – mainly in liquid form.

Our group of four was headed by Shaun, a veteran of around 20 Bols. He can’t remember the exact number he’s been to, but when you hear some of his tales of wildness from days gone by it’s easy to understand his amnesia. His brother Mick has sampled the delights of the event before, though it’d been a whole 40 years since his last one. The lovely Heather was a first timer, to both riding outside the UK, and to the Bol. Considering her newness to it all, and the fact she’d agreed to spend time in the company of three guys as distant in appeal to Brad Pitt as her Aberdeen house is from the Bol’s campsite, she was a winner in my book. Me, another Bol virgin (though I did ride there in a support race in 1995), made up the awesome foursome.

The start of the endurance race might have still been 15 hours away, but the Bol Classic racers were lapping hard by the time we began our official beer tasting. Watching it all from a packed grandstand bar overlooking the latter part of the lap is a very civilised deal. There’s even chance to sit down in the restaurant if you fancy too – very posh and waaaaay different to the standard of living I’d been led to believe was on offer.

Once the RC30s, ZX-7Rs and GSX-Rs from yesteryear were back in their garages at the end of their first two-hour race, we took a further stroll to check out other stuff. Strangely, though there were bands playing, scary-looking fun fairs, bike exhibitions, and all sorts of other smaller shows to entertain you, we chose to sit in a couple of the many bars on site and drank some more. We might have had an occasional drunken jig with the locals, but Shaun and Mick noted the relative sanity of the goings on at this Bol compared to crazier occasions of years gone by. Both anticipated much more mayhem the following night.

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