There were always things I had wanted to say but never remembered them or had the time to capture those thoughts. Some of those are listed below and others have just left me with age.
I truly had very little perspective on what I had signed up for as part of this adventure. I knew it would be physically demanding and, frankly, traveling with all guys for 14 days was cause for pause. But in the end it couldn't have been better in ways you just don't think of as part of the planning. A bike trip isn't for everyone but I talk about doing things that go outside comfort zones because it creates a special feeling you just don't get otherwise. This trip was well outside my of my comfort zone and created a very special outcome and experience. In this case it was a bike trip and who knows what the next one will bring.
Heartfelt thanks to our hosts. Our hosts in France, Bertrand and David and their families, and in Germany, Thomas and Susi and their family. In both countries our hosts were incredible and amazing and allowed us to see inside the country like we never could have without them. Can't say enough. They all had a love of biking and their country.
Interestingly enough Bertrand was able to get David, his best friend, to join in without much cajoling. Bertrand was able to create an itinerary that was very carefully crafted to get us ready for the big climbs and also see the beauty of the countryside. It felt as if we doing a personal bike trip that was so meaningful to him and he was able to pass that experience to us up every hill and over every cliff. Hard to put into words but it was just special.
Thomas, our host in Germany took it on solo (with support on the home front). He created an intimate experience with the countryside as we meandered through all of the small villages and towns and made sure we fully experienced the beer gardens. It was hard work complemented with some great rewards. He had a never ending smile and his family opened their home to us for several nights which was way beyond expectations.
Finally, Max , our trip instigator and coordinator had the relationships and vision to put it all together. It takes a special person to have created friendships such that they would take a week of vacation to host us as just "friends of Max". Says a lot about a person that others would do those things. He was also a wondrous editor of the blog as we sat late at night with tired bodies trying to articulate the days activities. Thanks Max.
The reality of the world
It was sad to have been in two countries that both experienced needless and senseless acts of terrorism/harm. Our hope would be that this horrific behavior comes to an end. We continue to have the victims in our thoughts and prayers.
It was a huge physical challenge to do the trip. We were training and preparing for months. Funny thing is that it is certainly as much mental as it was physical because many times the body felt like it was ready to quit and you just had to keep on going. And my mates were very good for that, including great support from Julie......she gave me a big pep talk prior to the Col de la Bonette climb to the top of Europe in France. And while obviously a great trip I don't plan on biking being my sole hobby. It was great and I will continue to ride for exercise, fun and camaraderie but don't plan on trying to beat this adventure by doing 1000 miles next time........ unless that is I wake up and decide differently :).
So it was Max, Randy, Bob and myself. Some tall, some short (actually I was the only short one). Probably each with different views and different reasons for doing the trip. But amazingly, each very considerate of the other as we had to share facilities most of the time and make adjustments throughout the ride. Of course that didn't stop us from mercilessly "teasing" one another. But all in all, great fun and we got along well. You guys were great.
The beauty of all of this is that in ended up being extremely beneficial as a fund raiser for those individuals that put their lives on the line all the time to ensure the freedoms we have today. For all of you that made the contribution to the charity I thank you. We exceeded our goal with your help and I'll put out final numbers in the coming weeks. It truly makes a difference and we have an incredible group of volunteers to help make sure it is put to the best use. And yes, they are 100% volunteers as there are no paid employees.
I am sure the stories and tales we tell will grow with time, as will the feat and degree of difficulty, but truth be known many others have done far more. It doesn't matter because for us it was still one hell of a feat. Hey, did I tell you when I ..........
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!