Wednesday, 12 March 2008

#051 - 1955 - Peace Race - Rest Day 1

Next day was rest day and the team were invited to the famous crystal factory in Karlovey Vary, I stayed at the hotel to do the bikes ready for the team to go out training in the afternoon. Whist I was going down the big marble staircase on the red carpet, two Russians were coming towards me, when they were level with me they parted grabbing me under the elbows and carried me back up the two flights of stairs, turned left at the top undid a bedroom door and flung me in a chair. These were the first Russians I had had the pleasure of meeting and with all the wrong stories that were going about then, I was a little apprehensive to say the least, however I remained calm.

The small fat Russian (who I learned later was the masseur) produced a big wood crate which was supposedly a container for bike spares, he bashed the crate open and low and behold it contained Vodka, the Russians and another mechanic by the name of Sevette, produced half pint glasses which he filled to the brim, pushing one in to my hand, I thought I had better drink the vodka at one gulp, I did whereupon the Russians clapped me on the back and stuffed half a lemon in my mouth.

These two Russians were to be my mates for ever after, meeting up with them in races all over the world. I stayed with them for about an hour, how I managed to do the bikes I will never know, I was on automatic pilot. The team went out in the afternoon, it was a lovely day and the scenery was marvellous. We had made a real friend of our German driver - a policeman living in Frankfurt on Oder, he was a real part of our team, Stan Brittain giving him a share of the prizes in Warsaw. When the team got back from the Crystal Factory they give me my present, a marvellous vase which was the same as the stage winners were presented with. On the Peace Race, factories sponsor a team and the rider who is first on general class gets the ‘best’ factory.

No comments: