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A Long Ride
By Greg Lyall - (contact)

Week 1

Sunday May 20, 2012, 40 miles (64 km) - Total so far: 40 miles (64 km)

We have posted maps in advance of our trip for efficiency purposes. The maps posted represent our weekly routes as expressed by Google Maps. Our current location should match the dates outlined if all goes to plan. We'll do our best to keep you posted.

Many of the towns we will be riding to are so small they don't show up on the maps but you'll be able to see the general area of each state we ride through.

This week's ride begins in Williamsburg and travels to Troutville. Troutville is so small it doesn't show on the following map, but it's near Blue Ridge.

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Williamsburg to Troutville, Va (near Blue Ridge)

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First bump in the road.

Horizontal lines represent 1000 Ft

We've had a chance to meet our 8 other traveling partners (& better halves) and our group leaders, Nicole & Paul. We've lucked out with a great group, all fit & ready to experience the trip. Two from abroad (Netherlands & Great Britain) and others from various parts of the U.S. Lots of electronics on this trip from essential bike computers to numerous Gopro video cams, Garmin gps, smart phones, and laptops or IPads. Criminal, how'd they manage this in the old days?

Wow, we've started the adventure. Williamsburg to Yorktown. The ride began in Williamsburg and headed East to Yorktown where we dipped our wheels in the water then returned to Williamsburg for our departure to the West.

We successfully negotiated the country roads to Yorktown experiencing a dense green route down past many historical sites. Ubald, one of our new riding friends, escorted us with his Garmin GPS along the Yorktown Battlefields Historical Route adjacent to the water past many revolutionary war battlefields and encampments.

Grace Episcopal Church invited the whole crew for a traditional church supper. Since it was Sunday, which means there must be church music somewhere, Monica, whose regular Anchorage gig includes playing the organ or piano at two church services, channelled Ken Miller and the Saint Benedict's choir by playing "Shall We Gather at the River" to lusty vocal accompaniment on the resident Kawai piano.

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Yorktown History

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Dipping of the wheel!

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Wheel Dipping by almost all of our group except the photographer (Monica)

Williamsburg to Glendale (located on the map approx. 10 east of Mechanicsville.

Absolutely gorgeous ride today. Grain fields,bluebirds, hardwood forests, rural country stores, battlefields, wildlife estuaries......and a hot shower at the Willis Church via solar shower.

Shout out to my sister Shirley! We took a detour to Shirley Plantation. We'll be posting a pic soon.

The generous folks at Willis Church let the entire group sleep indoors. Monica and I are sleeping in the chapel. Monica and Huey bonded by alternately playing Chopin preludes and waltzes on the church piano from Huey's one music book. Huey, a retired UPS driver and age 65ish, started taking piano lessons after a 44 year hiatus. He must have been pretty good 44 years ago, because he polished off a really hard Prelude with "authority."

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Portable shower inventively assembled

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Friendly group

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Can't get better than this

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Country Store

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Ubald & Greg at Jamestown

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Shirley Plantation

Willis Church to the KOA campground outside Glendale. Full amenities along with a full-on thunder and lightning storm. Our tent did just fine. We are still sleeping sans sleeping bag. It's plenty warm at night. Two women in the group took a wrong turn (it's really easy to do that, despite the daily maps and detailed map meetings) and ended up at the Richmond airport. Thankfully they didn't fly home.

Glendale to Mineral (Hales Farm) today. We spent the night at Hales Farm and enjoyed indoor cooking facilities, and one much-sought-after bathroom with shower! Thanks to William Hale who grows popcorn and compost. I enjoyed grilling marinated pork loin chops and drinking white wine with the help of my assigned and eager companion, Simon from London. This trip is Simon's first experience with outdoor camping/cooking. The night in Glendale was a rough introduction for him with that huge thunder and lightning storm, and at the farm it poured once again in the middle of the night!

Ollie, a retired dentist, was sitting on the porch with Monica when William Hale said, "you look familiar, don't I know you from another trip?" This led Ollie to explain in harrowing detail, that he had been on an Adventure Cycling trip 3 years ago when he had a bad crash and was seriously injured, life-flighted on the Governor's helicopter to Tennessee, and in rehab in Tennessee, unable to fly home to California, for a month. Yikes! It was an emotional experience for all of us to hear the tale, which other members of the group had heard in snippets from other sources.

The farm is nestled in the dark forest with open fields, and there I saw my first firefly. At 1 a.m., the stars carpeted the sky while the fireflies glittered like diamonds. By 6 a.m., the fog was thick but soon it burned off, and we were on our way down the wrong road to Charlottesville. Monica figured out that the sun was in the wrong place, so we thankfully turned around before our error would have led us to some other airport. The wrong turns in the route lead to good campfire stories and so far a comedic, not threatening. But you really have to pay attention to the maps!

Hales Farm to Charlottesville. This is the beginning of the rolling hills and expansive areas of agriculture including wineries, corn, hay, etc. Photo opps with cows, foals, goats, and a church doghouse complete with steeple. Toured Monticello and with every other tourist was amazed at Thomas Jefferson's ingenuity: one small example, the door into the dining room revolves and has shelves, so that with a turn of the hand, new dishes would enter the dining room without a servant banging the door. The promotional aspect has of course incorporated the Sally Hemmings story and took care to report Jefferson's view that slavery was immoral. Sort of reminded Monica of Egypt, where the tour guides tout the fact that the country has low rates of cancer(not mentioning that life expectancy is also really low).

In Charlottesville, we used the rest of the pork loin to make chile verde. Monica (not in charge of cooking but perennially hovering) worried about food quantity and found a really well stocked Mexican grocery (well, it was well stocked with menudo, achiote, espazote, and a million kinds of beans/hominy), but next door there was a small eatery where she got a dozen fresh tamales. The restaurant apparently didn't do much business, as she was fawned over by the cook, two abuelitas, and 3 children. The Alexander House hostel had comfortable beds and a lovely patio for dinner al fresco.

Charlottesville to Love Gap

We left the pleasant university town of Charlottesville, riding past the Unviersity of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson and visible from Monticello. Beautiful campus and lively university town. We toured White Hall, Greenwood, and then started the first major hill climb of the trip to Afton, and then up an even steeper climb to Rockfish Gap. The famed cookie lady held court but was ailing.

From Rockfish Gap we began riding down the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America's truly stunning drives, made even more exciting when Monica spotted a rattlesnake sunning in the middle of the road. Halfway down this section of parkway, we stopped just past Reeds Gap, near Love, at Royal Oaks chalet on Lake WSerando. Hard day in elevation gain though not in mileage. Hot tub!

Love Gap to near Troutville

The next mornintg we continued down the Parkway and early in the day, we had a thrilling 3-mile descent to Vesuvius. Whee!! We followed the lovely South River most of the way to Lexington. Thank goodness for George Siegried's tour of the city last week, because we got lost (how in the world>) on our way into the city and it was extremely hot--easily over 90 degrees. From Lexington we soldiered on across another panel of the Transamerica Bike Route maps, past Buchanan ("Buck-ann-ann" according to the locals) and all the way to a church camp, Camp Bethel, approximatey 10 miles from Troutville. Monica spotted a Troutville smoked ham in one of the country stores and thought it would make an excellent meal on her upcoming cooking night, but was daunted by the soaking and cooking instructions, and the size. Even with 10 hungry cyclists, as Abraham Lincoln said, "eternity is two people and a ham." It was our longest day of cycling, 70 miles, in punishing heat. At camp, there was bluegrass music and plenty of family fun, including swimming in the pool. The camp cooked a welcome spaghetti dinner, and we mixed with the locals, a curious blend of religious and secular persuasions, all of whom had large families with lots of kids, who were extremely well mannered and good eaters.

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Monticello

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Along the way to Charlottesville

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Up the bridge

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Wonderful gardens

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The Trans Am

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Hales Farm

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The views along the route are beautiful

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The ride along President Monroe's Estate


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"A Long Ride" Copyright © 2012-2014 By Greg Lyall - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on April 14, 2012 08:04 PDT, last updated on June 15, 2012 15:27 PDT
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