We?ve been driving around California in the Big Red Shark for a few days now (and Mike?s back is beginning to complain), and have covered a good few miles, but I still can?t get out of my head the feeling that I?m stuck travelling through a film set.

Everywhere you look there are things that I?m only used to seeing in American movies or TV programs. Those Californian cop cars for instance. Black at the front and back, but with white doors that makes them look like a giant gas-guzzling humbug – they actually exist in real life! And all the cops inside are dressed just like the ones in the movies, with little gold badges and everything.

And every time I get passed by a big yellow school bus I can?t stop myself from pointing and laughing; ?look Mike,? I call, ?it?s one of those buses!? Then I realise Auto from The Simpsons isn?t driving it, and people are looking at me as if Mike was my carer and it was time I was back in my padded room.

Even when I was lying in my motel room last night (contemplating whether or not it would be nicer sleeping in the car) I felt a little worried that the Terminator might come bursting through my door as a massive gun fight broke out (while we?re on the subject; Stephen Farrand would like to boast that he has Arnold Schwarzenegger?s business card).

The other constant reminder of where this race is, is of course the fans. They all seem very keen and enthusiastic, but not too knowledgeable. After one stage a local girl, wearing Paris Hilton style sunglasses, walked by the Rabobank bus as the riders were leaving for their hotels and obviously felt the need to give them a bit of a cheer. ?Good job????.ORANGE!? she shouted at a bemused Michael Rasmussen.

If you’ve been waiting in a hotel lobby while your colleague gets an all over spray tan; email