Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category

Day 51, Last mountain range

Monday, October 12th, 2009

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We wanted to get an early start because we didn’t know how long it would take us to climb up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. We knew it was going to be tough. The weather was overcast, and the elevation profile on our map makes the climb look pretty nasty. Riders heading West had also warned us about this climb.

We had an 18 mile warmup ride with a gradual increase in elevation before we started the real climb just past Vesuvius. As we expected the climb was a really steep winding narrow road. Luckily it was only 4 miles, and with a few breaks we made it to the top.

The overcast weather really began to take affect once we were up on the parkway. The cool day suddenly turned into a brisk windy day. The fact that we were wet from sweating our way up the mountain didn’t help. It turned out to be our coldest day of the trip. After shivering our way across the ridge for about 25 miles, we began our descent off our last mountain range.

We rolled into Crozet ( pronounced Crozay ) after 62 miles around 4 PM. Crozet is named after a French engineer who directed the building of the Blue Ridge Tunnel. Eric made it through his first mountain range in one piece. We made it through hopefully our last rough day. The rest of the evening we spent relaxing and enjoying a rare home cooked meal Meg had prepared. We’re finally in the home stretch.

Day 52, Are we there yet?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

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We wish that we could spend more time here with Eric and Meg, but we’ll just have to come back and visit sometime soon – with our car. We hung out and got a late start this morning. Eric is coming with us for one last ride, 75 miles to Mineral VA. We ate a great breakfast and got on the road around 11am.

Our ride today took us through rolling hills, past some fancy Virginia homes that look like plantations and through Charlottesville. Now that we’re out of the mountains, the most difficult terrain we have to face is the occassional steep hill. We feel so close to the end of our trip, now we just have to put in the mileage.

In Charlottesville, we stopped for a quick snack at a bagel shop with “NY style” bagels. They were fresh and better than any bagel I have had in a really long time, and they did rival many of the actual NY bagels I have eaten. Once outside of Charlottesville, we passed by Monticello (the historic home of Jefferson) and Ashlawn (the home of Monroe). The weather today is beautiful, and except for the increase in traffic, this is really the ideal for bike riding.

We made it to Mineral and set up our tent outside the volunteer fire department. We were even able to use their showers. Meg drove out with the kids to pick up Eric. It’s too bad they couldn’t stay longer. Mike and I headed over to the local diner, but they were closed, no worries, we feasted on hotdogs, hamburgers and icecream at the shop across the street. They even had my favorite flavor – chocolate peanut butter. Tomorrow we head for Mechanicsville, outside Richmond. I am so anxious, I can hardly stand it!

-Sarah

Day 53, Home stretch

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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Ourl night camping outside the volunteer fire department in Mineral didn’t turn out as restful as we hoped. We were about 100 feet from a railroad track and 12-3 AM seemed to be it’s rush hours. It was extremely loud.

After we woke up and broke camp we grabbed breakfast at the nearby diner which closed too early for us to get dinner the previous night. It just so happened that they had a “biker’s special”. 3 eggs, sausages & bacon, hashbrowns, biscuits and sausage gravy. It’s probably a good guess they get a lot of cyclists per season.

We didn’t have a particlarly aggressive ride planned for the day. We wanted to get to Mechanicsville about 60 miles away because that was the last place within reach we could get a motel. We had a weather front on our heels and wanted a roof over our heads for the night.

Keeping on route has been particularly easy in Virginia because the roads are clearly marked as an established bike route 76. This makes the ride through autumn forests and ripe fields that much more relaxing.

We made it to Mechanicsville with a light drizzle and a bustling rush hour in the late afternoon. We’re really looking forward to completing our ride tomorrow with about 81 miles to go. It’s hard to believe our journey is almost over.

Day 54, Destination Yorktown

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

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We made it! After 3,856 miles it’s still hard to believe. We’re exhausted, ecstatic, relieved, and a little sad that the adventure that I’ve fantasized about for many years is now over. Time to start fantasizing about a new one. On this trip we’ve met and heard about other people with their own adventures that make ours seem pretty tame. From unicycling off road the great divide, to hiking the Appalacian Trail.

As it turns out our luck with weather would finally run out on the last day of the ride. The weather front that we hoped to dodge with our stay at a motel was still going pretty strong when we woke up. There was also another front coming from the northwest about a day away, so we couldn’t just wait it out. Besides we had family anxiously expecting our arrival in Yorktown later in the afternoon. So we had to start our day riding in the rain, something we had miraculously avoided the entire trip.

It was cold and wet, with the precipitation alternating between drizzle mist and steady showers. The morning traffic getting out of the Richmond added an extra touch of unpleasantness to the ride. Like every other day, we just kept pedaling and eventually things changed. The traffic lightened and the rain started to let up. We estimated we had a little over 80 miles to ride to reach Yorktown. We were making really good time and feeling confident we would arrive earlier than expected. We made a slight detour as we approached the colonial parkway in Jamestown, to avoid some road construction. We were delayed a bit, but once on the parkway we happened to pass by one of the infamous goose crossing signs. When I was 17 and had first moved to Yorktown, my dad had asked me to draw a stencil of a goose. He had just started as the new superintendent of the park, and wanted to install a crossing sign for a mother goose and her goslings. Apparently the stencil has survived all these years and is used for new signs.

As we made our final approach on the last 13 miles to Yorktown, Sarah’s parents unsuspectingly drove by and snapped a couple pictures. We were starting to run out of steam and getting a little grumpy. This friendly surprise gave us our second wind for the final stretch. In the next 13 miles Sarah’s parents and my brother repositioned themselves several times for additional photo ops.

We finally rolled down to the Yorktown beach where the river meets the Chesapeak Bay around 5 PM. Greeted by cheers of welcoming family, a congratulations banner, and sparkling cider. We had finally crossed the continent.

There will probably be a couple more posts with addional information and pictures from the trip in the following week. Right now we’re just going to rest on our laurels.


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