Beautiful morning and amazing views welcomed the final day – a short burst, or so we thought, into St Tropez.
Simon and Giles appeared at 6.30am for a race in the pool!? Simon won, Simon cheated, Giles created a comedy moment of his own (much to Simon’s amusement) in the short infinity pool, Simon admitted ultimate defeat. Simon and Giles then had their own coffees and sat down to draft more of the blog.
A much later start today (9.30am) and an expectation to get there by 1pm had us all fiddling around, rebuilding bikes (from last night’s fog incident), and checking directions. Breakfast surpassed itself (not quite last night dinner) and set us up for the morning.
Keith posted the blog, was all set to go when a miserable looking Simon announced that we had miscalculated and the day was nearer to 80 miles. One large climb in the middle over to Frejus and it was looking more like a 3.30pm-4pm finish!!!
We’d better “have it away” then (as James would say). Gloves were off (literally) today as we needed to get rid of the white hands! It is becoming more obvious that our razor sharp cyclists’ tan lines might look good on a bike but look ridiculous in any other setting.
On the road and immediately into a 10km downhill section that took us all the way down to the coast and through Nice. Amazing speed and fantastic views. Another big city and lots of accidents waiting to happen. Having managed to “successfully” navigate our way around the big city without ending up on a motorway, we headed along the coast to Antibes where we decided to stop at the beach for a mid-morning coffee at the beach
Not before Keith, James and Giles managed to hitch onto the back of a train of cyclists for a few miles travelling at around 23-24mph. Great fun but in the end too much for the tired legs to keep going with.
Tried to contact Colin but he wasn’t responding. Tried a few more times before deciding to head on our way through Cannes to a proposed lunchtime pit stop at Frejus around about 50 miles into the day. Once again slightly worried that we may have lost him along the way.
30 miles in and all of a sudden the climbing started again. The road kept rising for around 10 miles. Keith’s mother-in-law often cites the old Irish proverb “may the road rise up to meet you, and the wind always be at your back” – not today it didn’t. Unfortunately, we were climbing into the first force 10 gale of the week. The new Head of Weather (Marc) was already getting some abuse as whilst a gentle breeze from the Med would have been welcome, this was not on the plan.
Keith was busted – lack of sleep had finally caught up! Reminded of Rule #5, we all ploughed on and arranged for Colin to drive back from Frejus to feed us at the top of the climb.
Duly fed, watered and raring to go, we headed down the mountain. One 10 mile descent into Frejus at an average 25mph and we all had big smiles on our faces. The adrenaline was pumping now and we only had another 20 miles or so until the port front at St Tropez beckoned.
One of the hottest days so far and probably it turned out, surprisingly, to be one of the toughest, we muscled our way along the front in the wind via the seaside towns of St Maxime (we could now see St Tropez in the distance) and past Port Grimaud where we were staying tonight, we now knew that we had done it.
There was a feeling of the last day of the Tour de France where the day becomes a procession and the leaders drink champagne along the way on their bikes. Whilst the champagne would have to wait, the realisation that it was done, hit quite hard and all sorts of emotions flood through the consciousness.
We arrived at our spiritual home of St Tropez and cycled straight up to our favourite bar on the port front where we spent our last night back in 2012 when we cycled from London to St Tropez. Hugs all round, beers were ordered and a magnum of rose brought to the table. We called our loved ones, chatted about our trip, watched the world go by and savoured the moment. A special hour or two where you have the opportunity to actually just enjoy it.
A 1,600km trip that was tougher this time due to all of the adversities we had to overcome and the longer daily distances we had to endure. Punctures, tyre repairs, rain, wind, collapsed tunnels and reroutes, early mornings, arrivals in the dark after long days etc etc. I could go on but all in all we are satisfied.
Its been a tough shift but, once again, we have strengthened pre-existing bonds of friendship and created new friendships through shared experiences that never translate properly unless you were there.
Most importantly, for a second time we have had the opportunity to support our chosen charities #WellChild and Assert and are privileged to have had the opportunity to do so whilst at the same time achieving something on a personal basis that will impact us all in different ways but that we should all be proud of.
Over a couple of trips now, we have now connected London and Locorotondo in a way that I doubt has ever been done before. Over 3,000km of adventures to remember for some of us. The beginning of more adventures for all of us.