Victory in Yorktown

Home.

Whoa. I made it. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion – there were plenty of times that I doubted it would happen at all. I’m going to write a post about lessons learned and whatnot in the next few days, but for now here’s my last day on the road.

Meredith was up early and rode with me to Dunkin’ Donuts so I could fuel up for my ride. By the time I said goodbye, ate, and finished my coffee I realized that today was going to be a scorcher.

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I rode highway 5 to Charles City, which was a really nice ride. Along parts of the route I rode on the Virginia Capital Trail, a bike path that will eventually run from Williamsburg to Richmond when it’s finished. I’d like to think that the blurriness of this picture is because I was going so fast.

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No motors allowed here.

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I got to Williamsburg around 1pm and had some lunch before the last stretch to Yorktown, where my Mom and stepdad Alberto would pick me up. The 13 miles to Yorktown along the Colonial Parkway was a little bumpy because the pavement was all rocks. I felt like I was racing in the Paris-Roubaix.

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And, less than an hour later, I made it to Yorktown! I met Mom and Alberto at the victory monument, a fitting place seeing that it’s Fourth of July weekend. They must have messed up the timing because I didn’t see any fireworks when I pulled into town. Apparently they set them all off two days ago. Oh well.

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Trying to get the seaweed out of my spokes.

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It’s great to be home and to see my family again. We had an excellent dinner (I requested fish tacos) and a great evening. My mom got a cake, but wasn’t sure what to put on it. Since when she ordered it I hadn’t updated my blog in a while, the mileage was a bit off. But it was still technically correct – and delicious.

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Alberto drew a masterpiece for my return. Potential career as an artist after retirement from the air force?

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Miles: 83.5
Total: 4171.7

Virginia wave

Mechanicsville, VA (July 5)

I wave to pretty much every car or motorcycle that passes me. The responses range on a spectrum, from no wave at all to two hands out the window waving side to side. In the middle lies the timeless (and lazy) index finger off the steering wheel, the biker hand off the handlebars, and the normal one-hander. Virginians have been the most enthusiastic wavers, for sure.

The ride was really hot today. I left Charlottesville early in the morning, but by 10am it was already sweltering. I forgot just how humid Virginia is.

I’ve driven on the interstate between Charlottesville and Richmond so many times, but riding off the highway was a totally different experience. It was really nice; I passed through a lot of small towns and the rolling hills were beautiful. I could tell that I was getting close to Tidewater from the swampiness around me.

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Today was the first time I got to the most enthusiastic end of the waving spectrum. As I was riding through Mechanicsville, north of Richmond, I saw two hands waving out of the driver’s window (happily, of a stopped car) and heard, “Are you a cross-country biker?!” Naturally I stopped and met Meredith, whose husband Randy did the TransAm after he graduated college. She invited me to stay with them and I’m really glad that I did! We had a great dinner and it was cool to talk with Randy and see pictures from his trip back in 1996. You guys have a beautiful family, thanks for having me! Keep on rockin’ in the free world with your awesome leprechaun sled cargo bike.

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Miles: 81.4
Total: 4088.2

Wahoowa

Charlottesville, VA

I felt well fueled today. Last night I had a great Philly cheese steak sandwich and fries at Gertie’s country store. It’s the only game in town for Vesuvius and the food was great. Not long after dinner I passed out – before the sun went down. The rain falling on the metal roof of the pavilion was soothing and kept me sleeping like a baby. I stayed dry and got 11 hours of sleep.

This morning was the moment of truth. The climb was the hardest of the whole trip. The grade was ridiculous; I’d say it was 12-15% for the whole thing. There were signs that told trucks to turn around – they just wouldn’t make it up.

Leaving town and heading up.

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Slowing down here…

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After 45 minutes of mashing on the pedals, I climbed the 4 mile ascent and got to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I took two rest breaks but didn’t have to walk my bike up like I thought I might. I’m really happy that I haven’t had to walk the bike uphill the entire trip, and it’s all downhill from here.

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The views from the parkway were great. Even though the clouds were rolling in and it was raining on and off, I got some great views of the surrounding ridges and valleys.

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Shenandoah valley.

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I rode the parkway for about 30 miles and then went down a great descent and found myself in Charlottesville in about 2 hours. It was cool to ride some of the same roads I rode while I was living here. I stopped by to see my friends Chuanzhe and May in town. Their new baby Aaron is really cute. I had to try not to put him on the back of the bike and take him with me!

Tonight I decided to crash here in Charlottesville. I’m staying in a hostel in the Belmont area. Ill be home this Sunday, just three days!

Miles: 66.3
Total: 4006.8

Blog problems

Hi everyone,

I’ve been having trouble uploading my blog posts from the past few days. I had a backlog of posts that I just put up. I put the date at the top of the entry.

Shenandoah valley

Vesuvius, VA (July 3)

I got on the road before the rain started coming down, which was good. Everybody was still asleep when I left, except a homeless guy (kid really, he was younger than me) who got dropped off to sleep there at some point in the night. Who knows what that was all about. All I know is my picnic table bed was pretty great.

It rained A LOT last night. Apparently the Shenandoah valley has gotten 2.5 inches of rain in the past two days. I believe it. I had to forge a flooded road this morning.

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My route took me really close to the natural bridge, so I stopped in. It was pretty cool. Apparently Thomas Jefferson thought so too, because he bought it and the surrounding 157 acres of land from King George III for 20 shillings.

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The arch is massive-you can tell from the size of the people in the picture. Even today highway 11 runs on top of it. Pretty cool.

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After more rolling hills and rain,  I made it to the ominously named town of Vesuvius. In the morning I’ll climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, an ascent I’m not looking forward to. Westbound travelers have been warning me about this climb since I was in Kansas. Apparently they climbed up there too, but from the other side the slope is more gradual. The same vertical distance they climbed over 22 miles I’ll have to do over 4. Might need to get my walking shoes ready.

I’m camping behind a country store in town tonight. I figured out a way to set up by tent under the picnic pavilion, so that should keep me and my tent nice and dry.

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Miles: 60.8
Total: 3940.5

Rain

Troutville, VA (July 2)

Yesterday morning I rode up to Blacksburg to check out Virginia Tech. It was a cool campus – kind of reminded me of Hogwarts. I didn’t wear my UVA jersey while riding around, so I felt like a spy behind enemy lines.

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Just as I was leaving, it started to rain, so I went into Starbucks. Thus began my downfall. I had already had coffee at the hotel but by the time I left I had a double espresso and another drip coffee. The rain didn’t stop so I found myself on the bike jittery and wet. The mountains looked nice shrouded in mist though.

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The Appalachian trail is up on those ridges and actually I spent the night with an AT hiker and two other bikers who were headed from Austin Texas to NYC and working on organic farms along the way. They said they had a great experience WWOOFing.

I took a shower in the fire station across the street (it’s really nice if them to let us do that) and headed back to the town park. We were all trying to stay dry in the pavilion at the park last night when a group of people came for a baby shower! It was more like a baby downpour, because the rain was really coming down. They were really nice though and excited to hear about all of our adventures. They even gave us good and drinks! Best way to a touring cyclist’s heart.

I didn’t set up my tent least night, choosing to sleep under the pavilion instead. Here’s my bed for the night. I actually slept surprisingly well.

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Miles: 52.3
Total: 3879.7

Worlds collide

Christiansburg, VA (July 1, 2013)

Yesterday started out with a big climb up Hayters Gap (hayters better know!) and then a massive descent. It was the hardest descent of the trip for sure… I had to really ride the brakes around the tight hairpin turns.

This is the road on the way up.

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I have to say: Virginia is gorgeous. I’ve been loving riding out here in the mountains.

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Took a long break in Damascus yesterday and went to a Sunday brunch buffet. I was a little disappointed and my stomach started hurting… Should have just stuck with gas station food. After I woke up from a nap in the park I got on the road and climbed over Mount Rogers and through the Jefferson National Forest.

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I made it to Troutdale and the bunk house that the local church had set up. Since the Appalachian trail runs through there as well, they host both hikers and cyclists. Joe and I rolled up at the same time and meet two hikers there, Mike and Michael, as well as another cyclist who just started a few days ago (another Joe) and we swapped stories about being on the road/trail. It was cool because hiking and biking long distance are very different in a lot of ways, but we wound up having a lot in common. Michael said he might even jump on a bike for his next trip.

The sunset was awesome.

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Michaels dog, Mack, was awesome. Just six months old and super mellow. Beagle/pit bull mix.

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Miles yesterday: 62.0
Total: 3733.2

This morning I got on the road around 8. We were all hanging out at the bunk house talking so I didn’t feel like getting on the road super early. Lots of rolling hills today wore me out.

Some pics of the road.

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Crossed the New River into Radford.

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The route today ran alongside the interstate for a while – I was riding on some service roads. It was kind of surreal being so close to the highway. This trip is about taking it slow and really soaking things in. The interstate is kind of the opposite: everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere.

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I’m staying in a hotel tonight since it’s supposed to rain again. A good night’s sleep will be great to help me push for the last few days.

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Miles: 94.2
Total: 3827.4