On the first day out in Beziers, France, a sturdy town at the top of a steep hill overlooking a valley of vineyards that stretches to the sea, I was chosen to be at the back of the group because my fluorescent yellow shirt would be easy for our leader to spot. It was to be my fate for the rest of the trip even without the shirt. My propensity for stopping to photograph obscure things like my favorite “French blue” doors or a herd of white horses secured my position at or near the rear all week.
My only accidents came from stopping my bike, not riding. Once, I lost my balance while waiting for stragglers and fell backwards onto the road, with my bike on top. A driver behind me stopped immediately to see if he could help. The French are considerate of cyclists. It is their national sport and pastime. Another time, I communed side-long into a fig tree. But I can’t blame my last-place standing on injury. Kara and I both had falls and used ample amounts of Arnica gel to soothe our sore muscles. In the end, we were proud of our journey. We celebrated with a weekend in Paris, acknowledging 50 years of a friendship that has stood many tests over time.