Awesome day today. I got up at 5:45 and got ready. I slept for like 10 hours, but it wasn’t super restful. I felt ok as I packed. I had a convenience store breakfast before leaving, and made sure to leave the church clean: they’d shown me such kindness. I got on the road at 6:45 to a beautiful morning: cool and with an absolutely beautiful sky.
The riding began, as it so often seems to with a bit of a climb. I marvel at what my legs are able to power over now. I recall talking to someone back in Whitebird, Idaho and he said that anything less than a 7% grade he doesn’t even notice. I don’t think I’m at that level, but the grades that would have had me panting 2 months ago are cake now. I doubt I’ll ever be in as good of cycling shape again as I am right now.
The scenery was pleasant, but more of the same: heavy woods and beautiful large estates. The people of Virginia are fond of putting the date that their house was built on their front gates. If my house was built in the 1800s I’d probably do the same.
As I rode I heard breaking branches above and saw a huge vulture flying through the tree canopy. He was crashing into branches and they snapped as he passed. I think I may have startled it as much as it startled me. Another bit of wildlife that seems unique ton Virginia is the caterpillars that like to wiggle on the shoulder of the road. Dodging them is always tricky.
I had heard that there was a secret alternate route through this section that would bypass heavy traffic, and had a bike lane. I never found it. Instead I rode in moderate traffic heading out to Lake Anna on a labor day weekend. I’ve ridden in far worse though. I rode through the town of Mineral where I was trying to make it to yesterday. I think I could have made it but it would have been a slow toilsome ride. I’m glad I stopped. Ingot some donuts at a convenience store and the clerk told me about how they had to close the bathrooms because the regulars kept stealing the pipes out of there. I kept going and saw signs for a nuclear power plant safety visitor center. Apparently the entire lake I was about to ride by was built to provide cooling water for the nuclear reactors. Despite this the lake was quite pleasant
Notice that the clouds continued to put on a show. I think I don’t often notice the skies because my helmet has a visor that blocks my view of them.
After lake Anna the riding was mellow and mostly car free: the route planners did a good job keeping me on small back roads. At one point a coal truck blasted around a corner behind me and surprised me but apart from that all good. I saw lots of other riders out for a Saturday ride today. That’s always a good sign.
I saw a sign for Scotchtown, the home of Patrick Henry. I had no idea who that was so I stopped to find out. He was the guy who delivered the ‘give me liberty or give me death’ speech. His house was big, but smaller than many homes of today.
I also rode through the town of Bumpass which I found funny because I’m immature.
My route, USBR 76 met up with USBR 1 for a bit which was cool. I believe USBR 1 runs up and down the east coast.
I was nearing my destination of Ashland and was feeling myself run out of energy: I was starving. In my starving state for some reason I didn’t want to just stop and get food out of my pack. I think I wanted to enjoy a big restaurant meal instead. I was really struggling as I pulled into town and asked a dog walker for a recommendation. She told me to go to a restaurant that doesn’t exist, or at least I can’t find it on the map. I went to a convenience store to get a reprieve from the hunger, then a farm to table restaurant (the caboose) to get relief from it. While I sat and ate my good but overpriced meal I heard music coming down the street. I looked over and saw a man wearing tights and a skirt on his bike dancing as he rode down the street. He kept doing laps up and down the road. I’d later talk to another cyclist who’s tell me that the dancers name was Ken. I commented that he didn’t give a damn what other people thought of him. Maybe someday I’ll have that attitude.
The town of Ashland is very pleasant. I really like it. I was able to get a cheapish hotel at a Days Inn and headed over there. It’s nice and clean, and the wifi and pool all work, so it ranks pretty high on my list of motels.
Ingot a second, then a third dinner (cookout and kfc, respectively) and am now getting tired and ready for bed. Tomorrow I ride to Williamsburg, which will put me within 15 miles of the finish line. Today I’m less than 100 miles away. Nuts. Alright, goodnight!
Bonus: more photos of the sky
- Chicken sandwich
- Kind bar
- Iced tea
- Grilled cheese
- Crab dip
- Ice cream
- Chai tea
- Corn dog
- Fried chicken