Last night we stayed in a church, tonight it’s a fire station, courtesy of Mineral Fire Dept, Louisa County. We ended up cycling 80 miles today, due mainly to a map-reading malfunction. To explain, the Adventure Cycling Association provides excellent maps of the entire TransAmerica route. Yesterday we did two and a half maps to the Willis Church, so we aimed to do two and a half maps today. Terry’s top tip: maps are not always drawn to the same scale!
After sixty miles of cycling we were still deep in the Virginian countryside and hadn’t seen a store, or anywhere to stay in miles. Many of the local stores out here have closed down and the word ‘local’ means something entirely different ie it could mean anything from 15-20 miles away. In the end we had no choice but to press on to the aptly named Bumpass where one of the few convenience stores remained.
With water getting low it proved a life-saver and, fuelled up on energy drinks and bananas, we pressed on another ten miles to Mineral, where a fair organised by the volunteer fire department, was in full swing. We took our bikes and kit upstairs where three other bikers – Jerry and Jonathan from Oregon and Louis, who we met last night, had already set up camp. We arrived just in time with dark clouds gathering over the mining town.
It’s been a fabulous day’s cycling. Back in Hampton, when America seemed like an endless retail park, a bus driver remarked: “There’s no country in Norfolk”. Today passing through Henrico County and then into Louisa it couldn’t have been more different, rolling countryside, wooded glades and classic weather-boarded houses with shady verandas and swings in trees. Most were well cared for, but occasionally you’d see one gently
collapsing, surrounded by rusting cars, as if the owners had passed on and now their house and belongings were also returning to the earth.
One of the other reasons we enjoyed today so much was that we left early to avoid the sun which had been so draining yesterday. Even so, by midday and with 30 miles under our belts, the temperature was up into the nineties and we were flagging, so by Mechanicsville we dashed into a deli where Bob the owner, who has done a few trips of his own on a Harley, was happy to let us sit a while and cool down with iced tea.
We’ve spent much of today cycling through civil war country, battlefield after battlefield. If only we’d had more time to look around, but that’s always the compromise of a long haul ride – if you stopped at every interesting spot then you could take a year doing the crossing.
After decamping in the fire station, we went out for Pizza – more great southern hospitality as Joe the owner, and his team (they had only opened last week) kept open late so we could eat while Joe told us about his plans and dreams for the place. Then bedded down in an upstairs room at the Mineral Fire Station while the crew slept downstairs – could you ever imagine that happening in the UK? Cycling across America is already proving extraordinary.
Today’s mileage: 80.68
Miles since First Landing: 207.98
Here’s the details with the full Garmin report: