The Swanns and me arrived at Montgeron, near Paris, just in time for me to sign up for the race. I signed up under a false name because I didn’t want to be identified by my acquaintances of Tout-Paris. At the Café Reveil-Matin, in front of the starting line, I was given a bicycle. It was the first time I had seen a bicycle up close. We were about seventy cyclists, some professionals, others (like me) amateurs. When the starter waved the flag, all of them rushed forward, except me. I cued the bike to run, but it didn’t move. I thought it was broken. Then I noticed that on both sides there were pedals. Until that moment, I had thought that riding a bicycle wouldn’t be very different from riding a horse. But there is no comparison. You don’t need to pedal to ride a horse whereas, if you don’t pedal when riding a bicycle, you fall with the bike and everything. So I started pedaling. I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled. But you know? It’s tiring to pedal. I was about to give up when I thought of the illusion with which Gilberte would be waiting for me at the finish line. And then I realized that the cyclist’s posture is very similar to the fetal position, and immediately I knew how to act. I concentrated all my energy in the lower abdomen until I got red from the effort. And then a blast sounded right behind me and I shot out like an arrow. I made the journey between Montgeron and Lyon (293 mi) in fifteen minutes, without pedaling or anything. When I reached the finish line, an incredulous steward ran to telegraph and, on his return, he put me a green armband. When I learned that there were five other stages, I shot out again before the amazement of the steward, who wanted me to stay there for the night. Five minutes later I was already in Marseille; a little later in Toulouse; later in Bordeaux; and then in Nantes. There I stopped to eat and take a nap. And then I continued the route to Paris. But this time enjoying the landscape, because I was told that I had a margin of five days and twenty two hours over the next cyclist.