I was in good time for a traditional last group gathering at "Me and Ollie's", a bakery and coffee shop in Exeter and knowing that we had only about 12 miles to ride left us all relaxed and convivial. When we reluctantly broke up for the final leg to the middle school in Rye where we would convene for the final bit of the ride, we were all torn between happy and sad. By the time we got to Rye it was hot and humid but we suffered through a group picture session, endured the waiting while the police escort was organized and had the inevitable very last minute flat (not mine, thank goodness) which was fixed in just a couple of minutes by Jim, our fabulous mechanic.
The honor of riding first on the way to the beach fell to the four slowest riders-- me, Ian, Helen and Ellen-- so we were right behind the van. Being first I couldn't get any sense of what we looked like but with someone else driving Mike crouched in the open back door of the van and took pictures. It was a nice slow trip with the police ahead of us and stopping traffic as we came onto Route 1 to Wallis Sands State Park and then in a moment it was all over. Like many others John and I were greeted by friends and family. Cyclists went down onto the beach-- on such a hot day crowded with regular beach people-- dipped their bikes and took pictures. The time for tearful farewells and hugs was pretty much at an end for those of us not staying at the hotel another night. We gathered our luggage from the truck and went out to lunch with my friend Liz, my sisters Tamar and Kate, and my daughter Margaret. My sister Sybil and her significant other Peter had been at the beach to greet us but left before lunch because Peter was setting off on his own adventure-- a drive to Alaska. Got home to Northport at about 6:30 and had an ecstatic reunion with Dog Darby and a lovely evening settling in to being home!