Swimming in Dijon

A few weeks ago we had an incident in Dijon with a very funny ending. I hope Sasha will forgive me, as he’s the butt of the joke, but he’s such a nice bloke I think we’ll be OK.

They’ve tried hard to make the centre of Dijon an attractive, pedestrian area. And it works – in front of the Palais des Ducs there is a huge semi-circular piazza (that’s Italian isn’t it? What’s French for Piazza?) lined with bars and cafes. We were heading for one of the bars for a well-earned beer after a lovely bike ride from Chateauneuf.

A central feature of the piazza is a pair of water features. There are 2 strips of glass paving set into the pavement, and out of the glass erupts perhaps 20 little fountains of water. So if there was no water, you could cycle straight down this strip of glass paving slabs. But there is water, lots of it.

The fountains are on a cycle, so at times they’re enormous, 5 foot high. At other times they barely reach your pedals. I thought, if I timed it right, I could cycle straight down through the fountains and only really get my feet wet. It was a roasting hot, beautiful day so I’d soon dry off. I was wearing my favourite cycling top, a black ‘Santini Italia’ number which, naturally, doesn’t quite fit me. Anyway, with the rest of the group behind me, and an audience lining the piazza, the temptation to show off was too much, so timing my run I cycled straight down the middle of the fountains.

I must have timed it pretty well because my feet and legs got pretty well soaked, but nothing much above the knee.

Pete, a keen snapper, had positioned himself at the end of the fountains and persuaded Ian Benton to try his luck. But with Pete kneeling down at the end of the run, Ian was faced with a terrible dilemma as he approached the end of the fountains. Luckily for Pete he took the honourable option, and had a bit of a spill avoiding Pete. He also got a bit wetter than me.

But then Sasha decided to have a go. Is it possible that Sasha didn’t realise that the fountains were on a timer? He seemed hell-bent on taking a bath right there in the middle of Dijon – we couldn’t believe our eyes as he careered through a tidal wave of water in the main pedestrian area of Dijon. It was hilarious, and Pete managed to get it all on camera.

You can just about make out Sasha underneath that wave of water. Forgive us our moment of schadenfreude Sasha, but it was pretty funny.

Click here to see a gallery of these photos, and more from The Chain Gang on the Chain Gang Flickr page

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