An Olympic ticket free for all
If, like me, you have been checking your credit card statement every day for the last fortnight and wondering when handball got so popular, worry not, there are a few Olympic events with almost unlimited vantage points still available.
Tickets for the marathon, triathlon and cycling's road race and time trial are still up for grabs at four price points: gratis, nada, nowt and zilch. And for 100,000 or so lucky
souls, you won't even have to go much further than your garden to watch the action.
Never being one to pass up a bargain, I thought I would get a head start on the herd by checking out where best to put my deckchair and cool box for the road race, London 2012's first big sporting event.
There was, of course, only one way to do this properly and that was to ride all 80 miles of the route, which meant I would need two support vehicles, five cameras, six production staff, sandwiches and a pair of two-time Olympians to lead out my sprint on The Mall.
Still smiling at the end of the course... somehow.
Strangely enough, finding the Olympians was the easy bit: Chris Boardman clearly fancied the opportunity to test-ride his latest prototype and Simon Lillistone thought it was about time he actually cycled the route he has spent the last two years devising from behind the wheel of a car.
Getting them to St James's Park for a 0600 BST start was another matter but we just about managed it and, with a watery sun rising over Whitehall, we started off with what every good time should begin with, a safety briefing.
Having been reminded of the rules of the road and issued with our flapjack rations, we set off towards Buckingham Palace, Box Hill and beyond.
The plan, and there was a very detailed plan, was to zip through London's more fashionable boulevards, storm past Stamford Bridge, cross the River Thames for the first of six times at Putney and film Chris and Simon's early observations in Richmond Park.
The first of many rush-hour coffees.
By this point, however, we had left London, its traffic lights and school runs behind us. We were now in the countryside or at least that bit of the South East where the houses stop and the hedges begin.
Lillistone, who rode the team pursuit and points events at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics (and has a couple of Commonwealth medals to his name), led the way as we passed village greens with cricket pitches, red telephone boxes and morris-dancing bobbies on the beat (OK, not them), and it soon became clear his job as London 2012's cycling boss was part theatre impresario, part road-safety officer and part Visit England ambassador.
The route the riders will takenext summer. If that seems like an impossible brief, it nearly is - Lillistone, who is responsible for the BMX, mountain biking and track cycling too, admits the road race is taking up about 80% of his time - but I think he has pulled it off.
When I tweeted I was going to ride the 2012 road race route, somebody replied "flat, flat, flat, boring, boring, boring", to which I replied, "erm, yes, we are avoiding those famous Home Counties Alps but hopefully we'll have some fun".
Complaining about a shortage of climbs in a race that starts and finishes in the middle of town (and that is what the broadcasters, sponsors and Olympic blazers wanted) is a bit like moaning about sand in your sandwiches on a Saharan picnic. But Lillistone has found some bumps.
Initially, back when London 2012 sounded as plausible as England 2018 does now, the idea was to make the road race a series of laps around Regent's Park and the relatively lumpy Hampstead Heath.
But cycling's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), wanted a more iconic and technical course. So Highgate Hill was out and Box Hill's "Zig Zag Road" was in. Nine times for the men, twice for the women but only once for our merry band. We chatted our way up the National Trust-owned beauty spot in a relaxed nine minutes, a time I was pleased with until Boardman told me the professionals would do it in three.
"Why nine times?" I asked Lillistone, assuming this was just a sadistic ruse to give the VIPs a chance to get back to the finish line, but this was a careful calculation to get the race up to the minimum distance of 250km (156 miles), give the all-rounders a hope of riding the legs off the sprinters but do it far enough from the finish to give the sprinters a chance of bringing it all back together for an almighty dash to the line.
This compromise between aesthetics and sport is only a fraction of the logistical challenge London 2012's organising committee faces. Throw in headaches about crowd control and road closures, and pot holes and street furniture, and you probably have the best explanation as to why Lillistone fancied a day on his bike.
The route the riders will take next summer.
For the 1992 Olympic pursuit champion and former world hour record-holder, the 145 men and 67 women who compete will just have to accept this is a Classics-style race on British roads. They won't mind a few bumps and bollards, he said, as long as we don't scrimp on orange flags and bails of hay.
"Fine," I panted - we were now putting the hammer down through Kingston in an unsuccessful attempt to beat the rain clouds behind us - "but will this course deliver Team GB success?"
For many British fans, and I suspect a couple million of them will find a space along the road next summer, gold medals for sprint superstar Mark Cavendish and Beijing champion Nicole Cooke will be the only thing expected of the course. But Boardman thinks that might prove difficult, even for those two serial winners.
Cavendish will be without the help and security offered by his well-drilled HTC team, making him vulnerable to the attacks of every other rider in the race, all of whom will be desperate to avoid the bunch finish in which he excels. And for Cooke the route just might not be hard enough.
That is not something I could ever say. Even with the single spin around the Box Hill circuit I was ready for a pint and a bath by the time we returned to The Mall.
But after 10 hours of riding, talking, changing tapes and replacing batteries, I had learned something very important. I now know exactly where I will be watching Cav and Co but no, I'm not telling you.
The motion picture of this epic ride will be broadcast on British Olympic Dreams later this summer. I'll keep you posted.