Whew, a day off! To put our riding into perspective, and for all my Chico, CA friends, each of our last 7 days of riding have been equivalent to starting in downtown Chico and riding to Paradise and back three times in a row up the Honey Run road! So today was a very welcomed relief. The town of Damascus in a nice little town and is at the crossroads of the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The Creeper Trail originally was used by Native Americans, and then by Daniel Boone, and then later by the railroad to haul timber.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
This was a rather nice riding day as the temperature was in the 80's and the cloud cover made for spectacular scenery. We did have some major climbs (as usual) but once you get into a rhythm the time and distance goes by quickly enough. Although our last climb was over 10 miles long, it was steady and less steep than some of the previous climbs.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Wow, it was difficult getting out of bed today…but once I got on the road, things opened up and away we went. 60 miles today, but we got a break from the heat, so the riding was pretty nice today. Still lots of up and down hilly roads with fun, tricky navigating through city parks and rural country roads ans along some very nice rivers and streams.
Even though today was only 56 miles, I really struggled for the first 40 miles. We left the Bethel Church Camp at 6:15 AM to avoid the heat, and for the most part we were successful, but it had 4060 feet of climbing, and by the time we arrived in Christiansburg, it was again 92 degrees with gi-normous humidity! Finally after 4 water bottles and a Dr Pepper, I got it going. Great scenery along the way…so much so that I’m running out of superlatives for the back-roads of Virginia. We came upon a west-bound recumbent cyclist who was hauling a two-wheeled trailer, and was planning to do the whole Trans-Am. He was LOADED and having a hard time, but had the determination to make it happen. I know that isn’t the “Bible Belt”, but around every corner there is another church…some big and many small. Also, the local artists display their work in their front yards. We’re still on the “76” route, which is signed all the way through Virginia, and quite easy to follow…although Simon, our rider from London England, still manages to get off track. I rode with Huey today…he’s a retired UPS driver who, I found out today, was a Ferrier and has a BA in micro-biology. Beautiful horse ranches abound out here, with huge spreads and perfect landscaping. Tonight our “lodging” is the “Youth Room” at the Methodist Church here in Christiansburg. Yahoo, it’s air-conditioned! Wow, Nicole discovered an Aquatic Center with “waterslide”, so we all went there to shower (no shower at the church) and then we all ended up in the pool and the slide. By the way, have you been noticing that so many of the town names end in either “ville” or “burg”? Williamsburg…Troutville…Daleville…Catawba (oops)…Christiansburg. No inter-net service at the church, so I’ll walk across the street to the Burger King to post this. Tomorrow is another day…
Saturday, May 26, 2012
I'll call this the "B & B" day. That stands for beautiful but BRUTAL! 73 miles in 95 degree heat and 75% humidity. It's hard to keep hydrated in this kind of weather. We were all pretty toasted when we arrived at our destination. Having said that...we left our chalet and cruised the Parkway for another 15 miles of climbing. Then our turn off was down a screaming 4 mile descent to the the town of Vesuvius. We had to stop about every 15 to 20 miles to re-hydrate and snack. Virginia Military Institute is located in the town of Lexington and is a beautiful example of a military college, with large sweeping grounds, cannon artifacts, and old brick fortress-looking buildings. One of our stops was in the town of Buchanan, (pronounced "buck-cannon") where we found a soda bar right out of the 1950's. It was complete with Juke Box and "soda jerk"! We listened to Elvis and the Everly Brothers while we drank multiple glasses of ice water. Some road signs are just too great to pass up as well. Our lodging tonight is The Bethel Church Camp, and we are in separate bunk houses. The camp fed us dinner and will feed us breakfast as well.
Wow, don’t let the short 48 mile day fool you…it was a very tough day! It was 90 degrees and 70%+ humidity with 5000 ft of climbing! Some parts of the road were so steep that every pedal stroke tried to lift the front tire off the pavement! But, it was a beautiful, beautiful ride, starting a great view of Virginia State University (designed and built by Thomas Jefferson) and with incredible views into both valleys from the Blue Ridge Parkway. As we approached the Parkway, in the little town of Afton, we visited the “Cookie Lady”, June Curry. June has been entertaining bicyclists since the original Bi-Centennial ride in 1976. She offers free water and cookies to all who stop by her house. At 91 years of age, she was still very pleased that we stopped by to talk and fill our water bottles. Mike, one our riders, was on that original 1976 bicycle ride and had a photo of himself and June taken when he was on that original ride. She was very excited to get the photo. Her house is a collectors dream/nightmare…take your pick. She has bicycle related stuff everywhere! As I stood there talking to her, I half expected a TV crew to show up and start filming. It was my turn to cook tonight. We had fish tacos, margaritas, and fresh guacamole and chips. Our lodging is a chalets at the Royal Oaks Cabins, complete with hot tub…it is right off the Parkway at Love Gap. Got to get to bed, we have a very long day tomorrow.
Wow, and Holy cow, the last two nights of tent camping were the wildest I have ever spent in a tent! Lightning, thunder, and torrential rain pretty much all night! I honestly thought that I would have a river come and wash me and my tent away. But…I’m still here, alive and well. The highlight of today’s ride was to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, our third president was the author of the Declaration of Independence, a scientist, an explorer, an inventor, and a horticulturist. He also authorized the Lewis and Clark Expedition which set out to discover a water pathway to the Pacific. The grounds and the garden areas are truly phenomenal! The garden area is at least 600 feet long and contains hundreds of heirloom varieties of flowers and vegetables. Our lodging tonight is a hostel in Charlottesville, with separate bunkhouses for men and women. I slept like a baby. Tomorrow we ride up to and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Still in Virginia and riding along. Through a little town of “Bumpass”, where there is an amazing woodshop. A. C. Carter III and A. C. Carter IIII operate the shop. A. C. Carter III has been working the shop for 50 years, and his son A. C. Carter IIII has been here there since 1980! They produce beautiful furniture out of natural woods. I walked in to the shop and was hit with the incredible aroma of red cedar which emanated from the two piece gun cabinet they were presently making. It was just beautiful! Need furniture?…I have their business card. Lots of interesting road names on this ride. We passed a winery that offered tasting. For $5.00, they let you taste all 13 of their wines….and…you get to keep the wine glass! Our destination today was the town of Mineral and Hale’s Farm. William Hale operates a compost business, but also grows pop corn for several East coast companies. I walked up on his porch and he recognized me from the trip three years ago. Truly amazing! It’s late, I’m stuffed and it’s time for bed. No internet tonight, so I’ll post this and some photos tomorrow. A big storm is threatening! 10-4
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Another short day of riding today as we only did 32 miles and are camping in a KOA Campground in Ashland, VA. And, wouldn't you know it, it's raining! So the route today was very nice and relaxing taking us through Glendale and Mechanicsville through rural Virginia scenery on our way to the campground. One thing became apparent right off the bat...1st, there are no fences between houses out here, and 2nd,if you don't own a big riding lawn mower, you're in a heap of trouble! The lawns are around here are huge! We stopped for lunch at Dave's produce and cafe that is housed in an old car repair garage. Dave played halfback for Clemson in the 1970's, and would have talked to us for the whole day if we would have let him. Nearing our destination, we came to the Garthright House. In 1864 this house was used by the Union surgeons as a field hospital. Mrs Garthright took refuge in the basement and watched in horror as blood seeped through the cracks in the floor over her head! The battle of Cold Harbor was near by so we stopped and checked that out as well. It's so hard to imagine this kind of warfare...so bloody that the streams turn red! This is our first night of tent camping, so I'll get to try out my little cocoon tonight. Three of the riders got lost today...too bad,
Monday, May 21, 2012
Leaving Williamsburg at around 8:00 AM, we bicycled through the Virginia countryside. Early American History and Civil War History monuments are every where. These monuments included the site of the "Seven Days Wars", in which Lee almost defeated McClellan...almost, but not quite. Weather was overcast with sprinkles of rain, but not enough to dampen spirits. Our trail today was well marked, and is actually part if the Virginia Bi-Centennial Bicycle Trail. We stopped for lunch at a very small country store. And I stopped at each and every one of the history