“Just you wait, my dears, and see what happens on the cobbles.
And, indeed, you see soon enough. Or rather, you hear, because it’s the din that hits you first as the pandemonium engulfs you. Press cars and motorbikes roar past you. Everyone is shouting because of the scraping, the falling, the bursting tyres. Everything is falling apart. The bikes have got the jitters: their rattling makes an appalling racket. And you get the full force of it in your arms.
Then comes the silence. You find yourself with two or three other blokes, in tatters like yourself. You guess that one has a puncture and the other has come off the bike; your shoes are lying next to you. You may be a bit of the battlefield, but you know nothing of the continuing battle, either ahead or behind.
Around the next turn you spot more victims, carrying a wheel or an entire bike in their arms.
The cobbles come to an end. On to a tarmac section. you can’t help laughing. Your bike turns back into a bike, tame again.”