The final day of our trip is upon us and it’s all getting quite emotional. Not because of the race, the late nights, or the amount of work that’s had to be done in the last few days, but because we’ve got to give the car back.

The Big Red Shark has carried us across California with the help of a nifty satellite navigation system that we couldn’t have survived without. She (the system had a female voice) was the brains of the car and we both grew rather attached to Betty.

She was always there with a helpful hint on which ramp to take off the freeway, or even where the nearest petrol station was. Betty had a slight speech impediment, she struggled with U’s, Y’s and V’s, but that just endeared her to us even more. She never scolded us when we took the wrong route, and never sulked if we didn’t do as she said.

That was until the last day.

Leaving our hotel, we programmed our destination as the Avis rental car office at LAX airport. Big mistake. Betty took an instant dislike to that instruction, and after having grown attached to us she obviously didn’t want us to leave.

Her commands suddenly became more sporadic. Giving us late instructions as we almost missed exits, and even sending us the wrong way right at the end. And I’m sure I detected a hint of sarcasm after we’d followed a road sign instead of her sultry commands.

But we had to give her and the Red Shark back, get to the airport, and sit around like lemons and panic as our flight was delayed.

If you’ve ever felt ever so dirty after eating in a Hooters restaurant email cycling@ipcmedia.com, or the Gerolsteiner team.

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