Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 11, Damascus to Rosedale, VA

Day 11, Damascus to Rosedale, VA, 36 Miles:
I love Virginia! Our ride today was through lush forests, farms, homes with gardens, and beautiful rural scenery. THe forests consist of oak, maple, ash, beech and dogwood. The routes that Adventure Cycling map out are the nicest roads to take even if you are in your car. Hopefully the photos will give the feeling of the country side that we are cycling through. Everyone grows a garden, everyone has to have a weed eater and a riding lawn mower, (everywhere you look, folks are mowing their lawns) and house has a front porch with rocking chairs that seem to say; “Welcome, come sit a spay-el”. We stopped in Weadowview, VA at the Farmers Guild Garden Center for coffee and berry pound cake. The store is filled with local crafts, which were varied and very nice. Even though it was a short day, we had a very long climb through Hayters Gap. We are the heart of the Appalachians, where the fighting between the locals and the Brittish continued for 13 years after the Revolutionary War ended. And then on to our nights “lodging” at the Elk Garden Methodist Church Hostel near Rosedale, VA. It’s raining cats and dogs, so thankfully, we are under an outdoor shelter and I didn‘t have to set up my tent. Don’t know what diner is tonight, but I’ll eat the cardboard boxes that the food comes in, I’m so hungry. Tomorrow, we head into the "Hatfield and McCoy" contry area where their families fueded for 30 years.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 10 Damascus, VA Rest Day

Day 10, Damascus, VA…Rest Day, 6.5 Miles: A rest day, so not too much to report…laundry, organize, bike maintenance, post cards. However, I did see some interesting things when I rode back into town to look around and go to the PO. The church sign is self-explanatory, but the photo of the man needs explaining. His name is Larry, he lives in Damascus and he runs a “buy, swap and sell” shop in front of his house. (note the Wi-Fi sign as well) Old bikes, old tools, old stuff…but he was nominated for a June Curry "Trail Angel" Award a couple of years ago. The award is given to the person who does nice things for the trans-am bicyclists. Larry spent three years on the Appalachia Trail, hiking, thinking, but mostly running from the law. While on the trail, he had a "come to Jesus" experience and now has devoted his life to helping others on the trail. He rescued a cyclist that had crashed, took him in and cared for him. Larry also provides free land-line telephone service for anyone in need. (the cell service here is spotty at best) Folks leave him money for the phone but it is never enough to cover costs…so he buys Little Debbie sweets with the money and gives them out to cyclists and folks like me who come by and talk to him. (Larry is a diabetic so he doesn't eat them) Yes, I’ll share my Little Debbie snacks with the other cyclists in our group for dinner tonight. Wow, cool, Larry joined our group for our dinner session tonight and told everyone his story. Riding again tomorrow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 9, Damascus, VA

Day 9, Mon. May25, Wytheville to Damascus, VA, 62 Miles: Question: How many hungry Trans-Am bicycle riders does it take to eat a ‘Possum? Answer: Two, One to eat while the other one watches for cars! We lost one rider today…The hills were a bit too much and his crash didn‘t help. Very sorry to see him go. And finally it is less hilly. Very nice riding today with the final 15 miles being downhill all the way to Damascus. Entering dairy country. Beautiful country roads along wonderful fishing streams. Raining part of the ride. Hard to take enough Photos, as the country is full of beautiful churches, homes and very interesting road names. The last few miles to Damascus I rode on the “Virginia Creeper Trail”…it’s a converted railroad bed to hiking and mountain biking, and it has rejuvenated the town financially. Over bridges, and streams and through the woods. Wow, Thank goodness we are at a campground that has some porch accommodations for my sleeping bag….the sky just opened up…Torrential Rain! Hot Dog, I do not have to set up my tent! AND…It gets better: Tomorrow is a day off! Dinner tonight was spaghetti and meatballs Caesar salad, and cherry pie, my fourth big meal of the day, and I’ll probably go to bed hungry.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 8, Wytheville, VA

Day 8, Sun. May 24, Christiansburg to Wytheville, VA, 63 Miles: Boy, did I luck out. I was cook for last night…we went to Chinese, because of the late evening arrival, and this morning (I’m still cook) we had to vacate the church for their Sunday Services…so we went to Burger King for a healthy Breakfast! The day was cloudy and cool for most of it…more steep climbing (17% climbs), and we made a wrong turn and did 5 extra miles before turning around. Through rolling hills and beautiful valleys with great home sites…everything is green and flowered here. Lunch stop at a small country store that loves cyclists. Today I asked an exiting church member for directions to one of our roads, he said; “Where yaw-all headin” I said “Oregon”…he thought for a moment and said; “May-an, yaw-all cay-nt get there from here”. Finally he told me where the road was. Lodging tonight is the Presbyterian Church here in Wytheville…very nice digs. One more day of riding before a day off…whew!

Day 7 Christiansburg, VA

Day 7, Buchannan to Christiansburg, VA, Sat. May 23, 55 miles: Ok, today I thought I’d give you a typical day for this tour. I’m up at 5:45 am since I am one of the assistant cooks, and I get out the coffee, food for the cooks, and set out the lunch fixings. After Breakfast, I wash dishes and put it all away. So that means I am one of the main cooks for tonight’s dinner and the next morning for breakfast. Break up camp and get on the road at about 8:00 am. We’re usually hungry in an hour, so we stop for more coffee and either eat a sandwich that we have made or buy (like today in Catawba) at a little podunk store, noted for its hot dogs, chili beans and hardware. (see Photo) After lunch, back to the ride (no snakes today). Then on the next town and , in this case, the St. Paul’s Methodist Church. After showers (one shower stall for all of us) we cook the food that we have decided on, call all to dinner, and afterwards, have our map meeting for the following day’s ride. To bed and exhausted! OK, Now for today…the best way to describe today’s riding is “steep, steeper, and steepest! Beautiful continuous rolling hills, but super steep…16 % in some places. 55 miles went by quickly, but we are pooped. I did a dumb thing today. I usually clean off my tires with my hand once in a while as I ride. While cleaning the rear tire, and going 20 miles per hour, I accidentally wedged my hand between the tire and the frame. It locked up the rear wheel and the bike skidded to a stop still with my hand stuck in the frame. I didn’t crash, but came close. Arriving in Christiansburg, there was a hot rod car show going on. My first car was a 1936 Ford “5 window” Coupe. Brings a tear to my eye every time I see one. Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant (we cheated). One other biker crashed today and went to the ER room. Nothing major, but skinned up a bit. We have to exit the church before they start their Sunday Services, so we will get up and out early.

Day 6 Buchannan, VA

Day 6, Blue Ridge Parkway to Bethel Campground near Buchannan, VA, Fri. May 22, 72 miles: Out of bed, on the road early, have a lot of miles this day. More climbing up the Parkway, then a SCREAMING downhill! Three miles of steep switchbacks at over 40 miles per hour. What a blast! Fortunately, it was a nice smooth road and no cars! Into the town of Vesuvius and then on the road from there. We follow our maps, and in Virginia, there are route signs that say 76, and they are for bicycle tourists. Visited Virginia Military Institute. Many of the North and the South Civil War Generals were schooled there including “Stonewall” Jackson. In the museum, they have his favorite horse “Little Sorrel” stuffed and mounted in a display case. So on down the road in beautiful scenery. While riding, I came upon a 5 foot Black Snake lying in the road. Wanting to the “Good Samaritan”, I tried to shoe it off the road with my front tire. The snake decided that the bike wheel was a great place to climb and proceeded to climb its way all through my bike, wheels, frame, chain rings and all. Check out the photos. It did indeed get across the road, finally. Came across “Ollie’s” cafe. Always a new adventure around every corner. Spent the night camping in the Bethel Camp of the Church of the Brethren. Very nice digs, but super cold showers.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 5, Blue Ridge Pasrkway

Day 5, Charlottesville to The Blue Ridge Parkway, Thur. May 21, 55 Miles. Twenty years ago I taped a Adventure Cycling map of the United States to the wall of my office. I took a yellow felt pen and marked a path across the map that would be my “Dream Route” across the states. Every day I would sit at my deck and look at the map and wonder when it would happen. Well it is finally sinking in that I am actually riding across the USA. So here goes with Day 5. This is one of those days that is “Way beyond Photograph” 5900 Feet of climbing, beautiful rolling hills, the “Cookie Lady”, and, to top it off, the Blue Ridge Parkway. Only 55 miles, but tons of climbing, and spectacular scenery. Started out with rural rolling hills with beautiful houses outside of Charlottesville….along the way we came upon a fruit stand where we ate lunch. There was a group of pre-schoolers there doing the “pick your own strawberries” thing. One of the little kids saw one of us in our riding gear, then looked up at his teacher and said; “teacher is that a stranger?” In other words, “should I be afraid of them?“ Sheesh, we’re raising a generation of kids that are afraid of their shadow. Then on to Afton, VA, the home of the “Cookie Lady”. For 30 years June Curry has been serving the cyclists that pass her door. She offers them (and us) food and lodging. An old “livery” building serves as her SHRINE to the cycling world. The building is over-loaded with post cards, jerseys, photos, and news articles about her. Every inch of every wall. Even Charles Kuralt was there and did a “On the Road” segment about her. An incredible place. Then up to the Blue Ridge Parkway…and I do mean up. However, the Parkway was spectacular! View Points to look over Shenandoah Valley and the Roanoke Valley. So here we are in Love at a Royal Oaks House Camp. Hot tub and all. This is really a rough camping trip. A lottery for the beds tonight.

Day 4 Charlottesville

Day 4, Mineral to Charlottesville: Wed. May 20, 55 Miles. Although it was hard to leave our host at Hales, Farm, we are looking forward to visiting Monticello. Beautiful, rolling hills all through rural Virginia. Spectacular! Short steep hills all day and heavy truck and car traffic, with no shoulders. Saw Plantation Ashland, the home of President James Madison…I guess you need to have a gorgeous Plantation to be a president. After 20 miles, I was starved…my oatmeal and banana were gone…so we stopped and I ate my dry salami-cheese sandwich. We turned in at Monticello and did a tour of the grounds and garden. Thomas Jefferson was quite man, and quite an architect. Monticello is special. We left there on a 2.5 mile hiker-biker trail out to Hwy 20...a horrible road with fast traffic and no shoulder…then 10 miles on the to the KOA. Whew, what a relief to arrive in one piece. Dinner was corn and burger chili over crushed tortilla chips. Shower, map meeting, diary and bed. No cell phone here. A very nice campground, in the trees and quiet. Gotta go bed, a 55 miler tomorrow but tons of climbing.

Mineral, VA

Day 3, Ashland to Mineral: Tues. May 19, 65 Miles. Yikes, what a night…last night…Trucks, Jake brakes, airplanes, freeway 100 yards away…I think I slept, I think. Coffee at 6:00 am, breakfast of cookies, wet oatmeal and cantaloupe. On the road at 8:30 m for a 65 mile ride to 8 miles outside the town of mineral. On the way we went through the town of Bumpass, so named for the fact that the hobos (bums) were able to jump onto the trains at this point. I went into a antique furniture building and restoration shop. It was fun talking to the craftsman who was there. Really neat! Today I actually fixed and ate a PBJ sandwich, my first since I was a kid. Four of us took the long route around Lake Anna, a beautiful wooded lake with really nice homes, each with their own boat houses and docks. You would hate to be an opossum in this state….road kill galore! Also, like I’ve said before, this is the deep south, where “four letter words” have two syllables…like “day-am”, and "hay-el"…well, you get the picture! Dinner was chicken over veggies cooked in wine sauce, green salad, and bread. Terrific! Tonight’s lodging is camping on the lawn of William Hale’s Farm. He is an retired contractor who does organic gardening and composting. Super nice guy who caters to cyclists. We set our tent city in his front yard.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ashland, VA

Mon, May 18, 35 miles. Day 2: Glendale, VA to Ashland, VA. Judy and I were the breakfast cooks today. I fixed frittatas’ with the left-over broccoli, carrots, onions, and tomatoes. Then on the road for the ride to Ashland, 35 miles away. Yea, no rain, but a headwind all day, no matter which direction we rode. Cycling through some beautiful country and loaded with Civil War History. Along the road, we saw the Garthwright Home. It was used as a field hospital used first by the Union and then by the Confederate Armies. The family was forced the live in the basement. As the doctors operated, the blood from the amputations dripped down through the cracks in the floor onto the family…and somehow the family endured. Incredible! Cold Harbor Battlefield has the best preserved earthen works of the Civil War. Very sobering to realize that the soldiers were ordered to charge to their deaths for some insignificant piece of real estate. Dig a ditch, hide in it and shoot those Yanks as they come charging up the hill at you. Believe me, today we are indeed bicycling in the land of Dixie, where Confederate Flags abound, and “Duke’s of Hazard” cars are proudly displayed on the lawn. Camping tonight in an organized campground the has wi-fi, hot showers and a store. Some went to town to buy bike parts, and beer…the essentials, and not necessarily in that order. More Later

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yorktown(e) Starting the ride

. Yorktown(e),VA to Glendale, VA. We dipped our rear tires in the Atlantic Ocean at Yorktown(e), VA This is a rite of passage for these trips. And did it rain? The whole day was ridden in a driving rain, but it’s just part of the trip, all 64 miles of it. “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best”. I have all the right gear, but was totally soaked (along with all my bags) when I got the nights “lodging”. We crossed the Chickahominy river, which is not significant, but I like to say the word. Along the way we saw the Sherwood Forest Plantation, the home of President John Tyler. Also, we were cycling along the Civil War History Trail. Saw battlefields that I had never heard of, including Malvern Hill Battle, which was Part of the “Seven days of Battle”, which was part of the battle for Richmond (10 miles away). Finally it quit raining just as pulled into the church, which was our first nights lodging. This was the Willis Church, built in the 1840’s and was used by both the North and the South as a field hospital during the Civil War. Dry sleeping indoors….Yahoo! Super friendly folks at the church who offered us all the Potluck food that they had left over. This is great news, since I am the cook tonight. Diner a total success, with lasagna, salad, lemon drink, and three different cakes, and two pies! Map meeting and to bed. More Later, Ollie PS The date the you see on these blogs are not necessarily the date that I rode the area.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Williamsburg, VA

Since I will not know when I can do the next Blog, I am doing it tonight. We start the ride tomorrow from Yorktown, Part of the Historic Triangle. (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown) I've been soaking up the history while I'm in the area by riding to Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg. The Fife and Drum Corps show was super! But as you can see, I got into a little trouble. So, after waiting 20 years to do this ride, I'm off tomorrow. Hot Diggity!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Chico, CA

One week to go...Stay tuned!