Trick or Treat Update

I’ve been without my car since Thursday afternoon when I discovered someone had stolen all four of my aluminium SMART Brabus wheels. Luckily I have plenty of two-wheeled transport though they couldn’t get my beloved home from the airport on Friday, he had to get a taxi.

Saturday morning we rode round to the police station to report the theft. I had rung them on Thursday but needed to go in person, take the vehicle’s registration documents and sign endless pieces of paper. The boys in blue concurred with me that the wheels had been stolen to order. There was much shrugging of shoulders and pursing of lips but clearly, despite the Domaine having closed circuit television, this wasn’t a crime they’d be seeking to solve any time soon.

Today, following my conversation with my insurers on Thursday, I was waiting the arrival of the insurance company’s “expert” to confirm that my wheels had indeed been stolen. As if I were somehow mistaken! I did offer to send them photographic evidence by email but they asked that any correspondence be in writing.

This afternoon, I decided to phone the insurers to check that the expert would indeed be paying me a visit. The lady I spoke to confirmed that the expert would be checking my car at the garage sometime this week. Whoa, why then did they send me an sms to confirm the expert’s Monday visit? She claimed that their breakdown service had tried to get hold of me late Thursday afternoon, without success. I had given them three numbers but they had noted the home number down incorrectly and that was (conveniently) the only one they had tried to contact me on.

Allegedly, they were trying to organise for the car to be collected. However, I had already advised that the ceiling in the garage is too low for one of their breakdown vehicles to enter. Instead, they would have to fit four replacement wheels to get the car out of the garage.  It appears their breakdown vehicles only carry two spare wheels. She then suggested that I might like to pop down to my nearest SMART garage, pick up two wheels and bring them back here to facilitate the process. I explained that while I could cycle to the SMART garage I would find it well nigh impossible to cycle back with two wheels. She then suggested I contact a friend to help me. I pointed out that my friends were at work and you cannot get to the garage on public transport.

At this point, I remonstrated that I paid a pretty price for fully comprehensive assurance to resolve these very types of issues. She finally took the point, you get the service you deserve. Make it plain that you’re not going to roll over and they’ll sort it out. Rapido she found a breakdown service with four SMART wheels, I didn’t ask how or why, or maybe I should have? The breakdown vehicle would be round tomorrow morning at 10:00, would fit the wheels and cart my car off to the garage where it would be available for inspection by the expert. The garage would then order replacement wheels. At the same time, they would tell me when and where I could pick up my replacement car. I pointed out that as I had an automatic I would expect a similar replacement.

This always stumps them as hardly any hire cars in France have automatic gear boxes, generally only the premium ones. I owned up that any need for a replacement car really depended on how long I would have to wait to get mine back. If it was before the week-end, not to worry. But, if it was going to be after that, my husband might like a manual one over the week-end. So if I wasn’t getting a replacement car how did they propose to get my car back to me? Finally, I got them to agree to a taxi. I then said I would only avail myself of the taxi if the weather was bad otherwise I would be happy to cycle over to pick up my car which has an all important bike carrier on the back. Satisfied that my insurer had rendered what I considered to be the service I warrant, I hung up.

To get all this organised has taken around four precious hours of my time. When I get the car back I’m putting a note in the back window of my car. It’ll say in French something like  ” Dear Mr Thief, if you’re thinking about stealing my wheels again, please give me a call on the following number. We might be able to come to some arrangement as I would be prepared to pay you more than you’ll probably receive for reselling them.  I have a small excess to pay plus, as my wheels will be new and not three-years old, I have to pay something for the “benefit”. I’m probably going to be down at least 500 Euros. I’d be willing to pay that to stop it happening again – wouldn’t you? Plus, I’d have their mobile number to pass onto the police.





One of my last preparatory acts is to break down my bicycle and put it into its hard case ready for transporting all the way to Austin, Texas. I intend to practise taking it apart and putting it back together again, several times, under the watchful eye of the owner of my LBS and his able assistant, one of my former club mates who has moved to a club which better supports his racing ambitions; Sprinter Club de Nice.

Yesterday, in readiness for today’s exercise, I transported my hard case down to the LBS. No mean feat in a Smart car. It did fit into the front seat, or should I say seats, of the car while leaving no room for me. It wouldn’t fit into the boot. So that just left the bike rack on the back of the car. While not a wholly satisfactory way of transporting the case, it was my only option.

The Smart bike carrier is triangular. Cupped holders secure the wheels and a separate arm secures the bike frame. I have happily transported the bike afar on this contraption, though I must admit to nervously glancing frequently in the mirrors to verify that a) it’s still there and b) it’s still in one piece.

In order to attach the case, I had to dismantle the arm, but it kept slipping off the cupped holders and listing to the right-hand side of the car. Undeterred, I tethered it with yards of wide white rope. The end result was weirdly sado-masochistic but not even Henry Houdini would have been able to escape. I will have to use the same method to transport the case containing the bike back home. Wisely, I have decided to book a taxi for the 10 minute trip to the airport early next Wednesday morning; far less stressful.

I took the bike down this afternoon and, after a quick espresso, work started in earnest and, as is so often the case, was nowhere near as difficult as I’d thought. I watched carefully, visualised the process, took notes and am going back on Monday afternoon to reassemble and disassemble it once again. In the meantime, I need to acquire a No 15 spanner to deal with the pedals. I’m now feeling quietly confident. Let’s hope it’s not misplaced.