France day 9…

What a freakin’ crazy trip this has been. Downer had a heart attack (we think) on day three. He’s getting better after being in two hospitals and umpteen rooms. He will have full heart work done when we return home. He is still with us, but only driving the van and eating. He’s one tough sob. Littlest Fricker had a tire puncture from a rock that could have been horrific but it happened on a flat enough surface for him to control and safely recover. Whew?

Yesterday, Doc Guv blew out a spoke on the descent of Galibier (one of the highest peaks in France). He held it together enough to get to the side of the road and wait for Downer to pick him up in the van. This too could have been horrific.

Today, on the last climb of the trip, I told Littlest and Blondie that we were going to circle Lake Cenis, at the top of Mount Cenis, as a kind of victory lap. We had completed 9 days of cycling some of the biggest, baddest Tour de France mountains. Miss had made two mountain summits. Andrew one. It had been an amazing trip with beauty and beast bookended by bizarre incidents, seemingly one after another. We were all feeling relieved as we talked and cruised around the lake before tumbling into Italy only a few kilometers away. After cresting the rolling terrain, the road turned down and we began to enjoy a lengthy descent with a couple sweeping turns. I’ve had a few too many bike wrecks (mostly way back in the day) and began to break early into this descent too.

Nothing.

I grabbed at my brakes again in disbelief. Nothing. I was rapidly approaching a car and swung around them into oncoming traffic. Luckily it was a couple of motorcycles who shook their fists at me as I flew by out of control. The bike wobbled, as Blondie later told me, and I feverishly pumped the brakes while planning where I was gonna lay it down. Looking right was bad. Looking left was better but no bargain. Just as suddenly as the brakes had disappeared, my front brake reengaged a bit. I was able to scrub some speed and looking up and further down the road, noticed an uphill coming. Relief. Another potential disaster avoided. We pulled off to the side of the road. My trip was done. No Italy for me. Fricker stayed alongside and we sent Blondie on down to check out Italy for us.

So, we’re now heading out for our last dinner in France. It will be savored by all six of us. Andrew has already departed to cycle back up to Germany with his girlfriend. We are all tired and happy. France trios is almost in the books. Amazing climbs. Beauty and beast. Adversity and adventure. Disasters avoided. Grateful for another day. Bon jour, pussycats.

Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…

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