Today was the penultimate day of the trip. I got up early again at 5:45 and got packed. I was feeling sleepy and wanted to go back to bed, but I was also so excited for today’s ride. I was going to finish the day less than 20 miles from the endpoint of the route (Yorktown, VA) in Williamsburg. This was the final major day of riding and it would be a good one, mostly on a paved bike path for 50 miles. I’d also get to see the historic state capitol of Virginia, Richmond. I left around 6:20 to go to waffle house for breakfast but they were closed despite their ‘Open 24 Hours’ sign. I went to McDonald’s and got a bacon egg and cheese mcgriddle and some hash browns instead. They were fine. I got on the road by 6:40. It was still quite dark, and my headlight is broken so I didn’t feel too comfortable until I turned off the main road to carless side streets. I rode for a while in the cool morning, winding through suburbs of Richmond before I decided to take a route through the city that would get me to the bike path sooner.
The city was just getting started for the day as I reached the outskirts then city limits. I saw quite a few bikers on the route. I think they probably ride USBR 1/76, both of which run through here. I actually rode on 1 for a while. I was once again amazed by the amount of history here, it seems like every park, building, and home have some connection to the revolutionary or civil war, or some founding father. I stopped to read most the historical plaques I passed, but they’re a bit hard to follow. They assume a base level of familiarity with the region and it’s history that I don’t have. I still enjoyed them for the most part.
The sky was beautiful once again this morning but I didn’t get any great pictures. I did get a nice picture of a stadium under renovation (it’s a double-A baseball team stadium).
I got back on the road and reached one of the coolest stretches of riding yet. It was right through the heart of historic Richmond. First I passed a monument to Robert E Lee. I talked with a guy taking photos and he told me it’s about to be taken down next week. It was covered in graffiti which I think sends a powerful message.
The guy was really cool. He was super interested in my ride and said it was on his bucket list.
I rode briefly though the campus of the Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia colleges are beautiful. The biking infrastructure through the city was excellent. There were divided bike lanes and good markings.
Next I made my way to the state capitol building. It was beautiful and imposing. There were also those large barriers set up that are meant to catch trucks and other vehicles.
There were very few people walking around early in the morning. After a good bit of sightseeing I was anxious to get riding. I rode the start of the Virginia Capital Trail. This trail takes me all the way to Williamsburg! It was beautiful and well maintained.
The historical markers didn’t stop when I got on the trail. They were very common, often in groups of 4 clustered on the side of the trail/road. I found it a bit overwhelming, one would talk about one thing then another would talk about something completely different. It would be easier to follow if there was slightly more coherence to the narrative they were trying to tell. Maybe that’s not possible with the number of historic places and things on the area.
Anyways, I came to a little parking lot/rest area. They had a cool bike sculpture and a bunch of interesting history plaques (including one about Pocohauntus).
Two women started talking to me about my bike and gear and I told them about the ride. They were very nice, and asked a bunch of questions. Their names were Sunday and Precious, I pointed out that with my name being Blaise we all have unique names. Sunday said that we had a precious moment, on Sunday, while Blaising a trail. I agree. We got a picture together. (If you two are reading this it was wonderful to meet you!)
I got back to riding. Occasionally someone would say something while they passed to me about the transam. I think it’s pretty well known around here.
I was getting hungry and only had shot blocks easily accessible. I ate the entire pack in one go. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that because afterwards I felt like I had a sugar high, but at the same time kind of sick and with no energy. Luckily I was close to a restaurant, Indian Fields Tavern. It was super pleasant: there were a bunch of bikers, motorcyclists, and drivers there just hanging out. A talented musician was doing acoustic covers of pop songs. It was a really nice scene and the food was good. I took a nice long stop to fuel up for the rest of the ride, it was 30 miles or so to my resting place for the night, a warmshowers host near Williamsburg. I got back to riding and felt much better now with some food. The path was pleasant and flat and much less crowded now that I was further from the cities. It was mostly wooded, but it also passed by huge historic mansions and plantations
I came to a bridge and crossed the James River, or at least a tributary (might be the Chickahominy River). This was my first view of saltwater and I let out a loud yell, I’d been waiting to see saltwater for 2 months.
I pedaled quickly onward buoyed by the knowledge I was so close. Soon enough I reached the turnoff for my hosts home for the night. I entered a gorgeous community and rode for a mile. I was confused because it felt like I was about to ride into the river, I was getting so close to it. My jaw just about dropped when I realized the home is waterfront, directly on the water. I met my hosts, Debra and Camilla. They’re a lovely couple that had a sushi dinner waiting for me when I arrived. They gave me a tour and told me to go jump in the warm waters of the river, as they left to go do some errands. I did, and got a gorgeous photo.
I showered and they came home, setting out even more food for me! Unfortunately I missed them before they left for a dinner reservation. I’m now just sitting on the bed they provided, in the downstairs with a beautiful river view. The sun is going down and it’s just gorgeous out. People are enjoying the water on boats, and everything just feels happy right now, as it has for most of the day. I think I waved and said hello to everyone I met on the trail.
Tomorrow I finish my ride. I’m simulataneously ecstatic, nervous, and uncertain about what will happen next. I have no idea where I’ll be living in a month, and life is generally going to be hectic for a while. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. This trip has taught me that I can handle it, no matter what ‘it’ is.
I’m going to go read in the sunset light then sleep. Night!
- McDonald’s bacon egg and cheese mcgriddle
- McDonald’s hash brown
- McDonald’s tea
- Sugar tea
- Whole foods pastries
- Shot blocks
- Chicken sandwich
- Pimento dip and chips
- Sweet tea
- Peanut butter pretzel snacks