It’s never been more hip to ride a bike.

Mulga Bill got the ball rolling (or the wheels, as it were), and Nicole Kidman rode hers with curly red hair flaming up the small screen. These days, if you’re in the Elwood area, you can’t miss local dilettante Tim Rogers’ familiar silhouette pedalling by.

This in-depth history of bicycling takes me back to the off-season this past year, when I was in Paris, the city of love. Oh yes, I’ve travelled darling.

What could be more French than taking a bike ride along the Seine River with a brie cheese baguette in my basket, winding along the cobblestones toward the Eiffel Tower, past the seemingly endless parade of chic Parisians?

The only problem was that for some reason my map was wrong (this seems to be a persistent problem for me). For one thing, the river was on the wrong side of the road.

Stopping to catch my breath and have a more detailed look at my stupid map, I wondered why I couldn’t even see the iconic steel structure in the distance? I’d been riding for 45 minutes after all.

A peek behind me and up the Seine revealed it was actually my head that was upside down, and I had of course been riding in the wrong direction. Not for the first time I apologised to my map. Who says footballers are thick?

This little navigational blunder reminds me of another error in judgment I’ve had on tour recently. No bike this time, but a bright yellow football as my form of transport.

Instead of trying to get to the Eiffel Tower, I had to avoid the Dockers’ very own version – Aaron Sandilands – in order to send our team forward and break the deadlock. Makes sense to me …

I think maybe Matthew Pavlich summed it up best straight after the game on Monday night when we were shaking hands in the sometimes forgotten tradition of post-battle sportsmanship. ”A great game of footy, mate,” or words to that effect. It really was, too.

When you’re travelling, there are just some things you must see. The Eiffel Tower is one, of course, the Colosseum in Rome another. Whenever I’m in Perth I always reserve a few special seconds to get up close to Aaron Sandilands’ feet. To my eyes they’re as awe-inspiring as the other two, without all the crowds and cheap souvenirs.

With the game falling on Anzac Day, some words would have been swirling around the heads of players from both teams. Mateship, courage, combat.

The game was always going to be physical, I could tell that before it even started. A combination, I guess, of the occasion, a hostile home crowd, and a team whose coach looks somewhat frustrated that his boots are hung up on a nail. It all kicked off before the opening bounce; plenty of argy-bargy, as they say.

I was under the microscope. My old sparring partner, Ryan Crowley, had me as his target for a defensive forward role. The odd thing was that he was my marked man, too, in the more traditional sense of a backman stopping a forward. This in a nutshell houses some of the confusion of the modern game, folks.

The Dogs played some of our best footy in 2011, and for the most part I felt like we were the team making most of the play and the more likely to skip clear. Renaissance man Justin Sherman kept scoring for his new club, and the much improved Kepler Bradley was doing more than his bit up the other end.

For any game to be a classic it must be littered with little mini-battles all over the ground, and Monday night would have done some old diggers proud in that sense. Morris versus Ballantyne, Hill v Picken, and don’t forget those two heavyweights, Crowley and Murphy, who were still slugging it out.

It proved to be the Dockers who skipped free initially in the last quarter, and when it got out to 20 points it was looking grim. Digging in, though, my boys dragged themselves back and for a few moments looked like we were about to claim a famous victory on foreign-ish soil.

But with the help of their 19th man (the crowd), the Dockers nudged ahead when it mattered most. A few mistakes at crucial times helped their cause, and I’m looking forward to celebrating future Anzac Days without an imaginary digger whispering in my ear: ”Just don’t stuff up like that again, mate.”

I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, and I’ve seen the Sandilands Feet. Next time I’m on my footballing travels, I’m determined to get on my bike, avoid ”Eiffel Aaron” (and the boundary line), and map the right path to get my Bulldogs safely home.

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