Even after last night’s Subway and sugar fest we were still slightly peckish this morning, so we took full advantage of the hotel breakfast before setting off … to buy more food. Then historic Charlottesville beckoned for a quick look-see and a coffee in wonderful Mother’s Day sunshine. It was an interesting place but we didn’t have time to do it justice. Next time? (The perpetual dilemma on this trip … cycle like mad things to get to see places at the end of the day or stop and see things on route)?
We had luckily killed just enough time to ensure that the day was roasting hot before we hit the hills of Arbamarle county. And they were glorious … the rolling had steepened somewhat overnight and the roads had shrunk to fit … us, but not those monster V8 Dodge Rams … perfect cycling. New (to us) wildlife was everywhere; butterflies the size of saucers, startlingly red cardinal birds, bugs a-plenty, possum, skunks (road-kill), raptors galore and creepy nests full of thousands of wriggly caterpillars.
During a particularly gentle part of the ride, lazing past vineyards and peach groves, Paul innocently asked me about an oak tree we passed way back and I proceeded to waste 15 minutes of his life explaining about sessile and pendunculate types of oak. He hasn’t asked me about much since.
So what do you chat about to distract yourselves from the effort of the many uphill slogs? … our topics have so far included fracking, the resurgence of the ‘Lego’ brand, the massive and widening divide between rich and poor in the States, favourite 60’s girl groups (involves much singing) and our vasectomy experiences.
Although in the high eighties, today was an easy day as we had decided to only do the thirty odd miles to Afton, in the Appalacians foothills, leaving plenty of time to stop and take it all in … after all that’s why we’re here isn’t it?
Some of the stopping was in reality to take in air …. the inclines (I’m still loathe to upgrade them to hills proper, knowing what’s ahead) were short and sharp … but during the last particularly cruel and long mile and a half climb I reminded Paul about the night before we flew out when Liz and I went through his gear and threw out masses of ‘essential stuff’ and asked him if there was anything else he wished we’d junked … ‘Every-bloody-thing!” was his instant response
The boy was not his usual happy self. It was at that point that I also jokingly said that if this hill got any steeper I may have to consider changing down a gear or two (unbeknown to Paul I too had been winching my way up in bottom gear for ages) … at that point he snapped and summarily stripped me of my job as trip morale officer. At the end of a tiring day some people lose their sense of humour … others lose their jobs.
Moments later we arrived at what was to be the highlight of the day … the legendary Cookie Lady’s house. June Curry (aka the Cookie Lady) has been welcoming cyclists into her home with cookies since the start of the TransAmerica ride in 1976. She always wanted to travel the world but never had the opportunity, so she invited the world to her. She sadly died two years ago and her house is now virtually a shrine to cyclists …. it is jammed to the gunnels with
nearly forty years worth of global cycling memorabilia. We slept there surrounded by donated spares, clothing, good will messages and endless postcards … our tired bodies woken only by the freight trains that shook the whole house, every bloody hour!
Miles today: 32
Miles from First Landing: 301.44
Here is today’s Garmin report: