Some were awakened in the middle of the night to the news, and others learned about it in the morning: we learned of the tragic attack in Nice, just 20 miles south of our hotel in Sospel. Our two French friends, both from Nice, were visibly sad, angry, and perplexed by this senseless attack. In fact, just a week ago we rode along the Promenade de Anglais, the site of the attack. From this point forward our prayers and thoughts were for the helpless victims of this heinous act.
Our French friends reminded us that we couldn't let the tragedy change our behavior, so we rode out early and strong up a five-mile route to a small town called Castillon. This being our last day, we had intentionally picked a shorter route, with less elevation, that took us off the paved roads. From Castillon we rode and walked a series of gravel roads and trails until we hooked up with the paved roads again in Sainte-Agnès, just a few kilometers north of Nice. The gravel proved challenging: one flat tire and one spill into the brambles, and we were ready to get back on the paved roads! Other than a few scratches as a memorial, the week proved amazingly injury-free.
In Sainte-Agnès we made our last climb, about 1,000 feet, and at the summit we started a long, leisurely descent into the metropolitan Nice area. The views of the cities and the sea were stunning, and we stopped several times to admire the beautiful vistas, to pay respects to the victims, and to ponder how somebody who lives in such a beautiful place could seek to harm others so violently.
We reached the sea after 28 miles and 3,257 of elevation, bought some picnic supplies, and enjoyed a lunch overlooking a lovely beach. After lunch, we swam in the Mediterranean, some in our biking shorts and others in bathing suits. In either case we learned how to discretely change on the beach with a towel so as not to embarass anyone. We returned the bikes and took an Uber back to Bertrand's house without incident. In the evening we went to a lovely restaurant with our hosts and some of their friends where we solved the world's problems while enjoying another fabulous meal.
I have been to France before, and I have always liked it, but never had I been in such close contact with the people. This time I fell in love with France. I will never forget this wonderful place and the wonderful people.
A heartfelt thanks to Bertrand and David for guiding us, putting up with us and making our experience so enjoyable. And thanks to their families for sharing them with us for the week.
And now we are off to Germany!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!