Have you ever heard of Trail Magic? Nope nor had we – but by nightfall we’d know exactly what it meant – and it has already sprinkled its dust on the bestbybike duo.
The day didn’t start as planned. We made the classic mistake of leaving late – and after a few hundred yards we’d stopped again. Let’s face it, who can resist a Ben and Jerry’s on a hot day? And today was a scorcher. Virginia is currently going through something of a heat wave and the sunbathers were already out in force on the beach facing Gloucester Point as we left the Duke of York Hotel.
No such luxury for us as we headed up the hill to historic Yorktown and the Victory Monument which is the official start point for the TransAmerica. It marks the American victory over the British, perhaps not the best omen! Will we be defeated by this challenge? We signed the official book at the visitor centre and then we were off, cycling down the Colonial Parkway alongside the York River, a mix of woodland, swamps and creeks dotted with civil war and war of independence historic battlefield sites. More Ospreys and hawks overhead while wood-peckers darted across the trail.
Felt very much at home today following the trail through the three historic settlement towns – Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown – more union jacks than you could wave a stick (or a flag pole) at. Williamsburg was interesting, although much of it has been re-built, so feels a little like a film set, but beautiful nevertheless and living history characters wearing costumes of the day, added interest.
Much of todays cycling was on a purpose built cycle route – the Capitol Trail – which when it’s finished will provide an off road route all the way to the borders of Charles City. It’s Plantation country out here with trees stretching out in every direction. And at almost every turn there’s a sign highlighting a battlefield, often with cannons lined up, as if the war could resume at any time. It was so hot today we got through six water bottles each (as well as introducing Terry to the delights of root beer). He’ll be following the Red Sox and buying a Mustang by the time we get him home. Close to the Malvern Hills Battleground we encountered our first dogs – two labs who shot across the front of their property. But they only succeeded in flushing out two deer who bolted across the road right in front of us. We’d heard the Willis United Methodist Church at Glendale allowed cyclists to stay inside or camp and soon one of the parishioners, Tommy Hines, was showing us around the facilities they provide to passing cyclists including food, a shower (with fresh towels) free wi Fi and a choice of rooms to bed down in. Incredible.
In one room we met Louis from St Louis, who having walked the Appalachian Way a few years back (inspired by Bill Bryson’s book ‘A Walk in the Woods’), was now cycling across America too. His Surly was similar to mine but with 26 inch wheels – oh and he had only two panniers. Terry’s top tip: Always travel light. Cooked up pasta and sauce and then Terry and I settled into sleeping bags in the chapel while the apostles looked over us. An extraordinary and generous place. Oh yes – and that Trail Magic – it was a term Louis that introduced us to – and refers to things that just happen on route that make the adventure so special. Trail Magic – like the folk of Willis Church who leave the building open for any passing cyclist to stay and don’t even ask for a donation.
Today’s Mileage: 65.28
Mileage since First Landing 127.30
Here’s today’s detailed Garmin report: