Distance: 80.35 mi
Average Speed: 11.8 mph; Max Speed: 29.1 mph
Elevation Gain: 1,489 ft
Average Temp: 85.7 F; Temp Range 69.8-107.6 F
There were railroad tracks right next to the fire station, something I learned when a train went by around 7PM last night, startling me with its proximity. To my relief, the train either didn’t pass through at night or I was so soundly asleep that it didn’t wake me. I expect the former is more likely.
Given my late night fixing my bottle cage and tent pole, I opted to also have a late morning. The upside of that was that the fire house was open (they closed the building at 9) by the time I got up, so I could top off my water bottles. Packing up went more smoothly than setting up did last night, and I began my penultimate day of riding by 7:30.
It was a beautiful morning, partly cloudy, pleasant temperature, and the excitement of being near the goal all conspiring to put me in a good mood. Even the scenery joined in as I crossed Lake Anna three times and was treated to a beautiful lake and sky combination.
The paths through virginia continue to be steeped with history, perhaps part of why they chose to route the TransAmerica Trail through this area. I passed Patrick Henry’s (of “Give me Liberty, or give me death!” fame) restored manor house and I don’t know how many civil war signs, historical markers, and monuments. There were even a few civil war cemeteries.
About halfway through my ride, I entered the longest urbanized stretch that I’ve seen for…I’m not sure. It might be the longest stretch on the trip. From Ashland with a little break to Mechanicsville and a bit further, basically riding through the suburbs of Richmond. Ashland has a quaint downtown and made for a good rest stop. I even had a brief chat with a bearded gentleman riding a bike and wearing a bedazzled cowboy hat, crinkly flower shirt, short flowery skirt of a different pattern, many beaded bracelets and anklets, and three inch heels. We mostly talked about the weather. I wish I had complimented his fashion sense before he rode away. I could never have pulled off that outfit.
Riding through towns means you get opportunities to stop and refuel. But there’s a price to pay; all the lights and stop signs and so on that are typical of highly populated areas got old quickly. Yeah, I’ve gotten spoiled by long stretches of roads without so much as an intersection, let alone one with a stop sign or traffic light.
I got rained on a bit around noon, but the rain was barely enough to make me any more wet than the humidity already had, so I ignored it and kept going. When I stopped at a gas station for a snack, one guy passed me by saying, “You got rained on, didn’t you?” as if this were a revelation. I replied that it was nothing new for me, because given the last week, it really isn’t.
As the map said to, I called ahead to the church where I hoped to camp out for the night. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I wasn’t going to be camping, but that they allow cyclists inside the building. There was a note on the updates that said lodging was no longer available, so I wasn’t expecting it. I was told to call one of the numbers on the door when I arrived and somebody would come to let me in. It only took David a few minutes to come by and open the door. Now instead of one last night of camping in my tent, I get a night with a roof, a shower, and access to a kitchen. Good deal!
Tomorrow is the last day. The end. Fin. Having never done a tour longer than a few days, I don’t think I could really appreciate what I was getting myself into when I started, and I knew that. I began my ride excited, hoping to see and experience great things (and I have) but not with any understanding or solid expectation of how those great things would manifest themselves. Now I’m facing another cognitive failure: after 67 days of cycling from place to place, planning the next day, and making sure I had shelter and sufficient food, I’m about to be done. The future isn’t a void. Far from it. I’ll meet my family at the finish. We’ll go out for dinner. In the only slightly more distant future, I have a job to go back to and a lot to do to prepare for the new semester. But I expect the transition will be…strange.
But for now, I’m going to eat my dinner, write some postcards, and try to deal with the backlog of blog posts I need to get up.
Roadkill Count: 4 birds, 2 cats, 1 possum, 1 skunk, 1 unknown mammal, 4 snakes, 2 turtles, 1 frog