Day 06 (Greenwood, VA to Love, VA)

IMG_7174.JPG

Blue Ridge Parkway. After going straight up forever we enter this famed roadway. I would like to think that from here it's just a nice winding flat path along the ridge but I am disappointed. (With Mike & Don)

IMG_7182.JPG

Devils Backbone Brewery. Tonight's pre-Mothers Day Special....slow smoked brisket. Physically I am pretty wiped. It was only 24 miles but it was up, and up, and up. Close to a three thousand foot climb.

Whatever I eat tonight I earned.

Day 04 (Henrico, VA to Ashland, VA)

IMG_7151.JPG

 

Bumpass, Virginia.  This causes a rift between Barry and I over the proper pronunciation.  He says it's bum-pass.  I say it's bump-ass.  It's like an American trying to tell the Brits how to pronounce Worcestershire. 


We had just finished riding nearly two hours in the pouring rain and the open country store was a welcome sight.  Coffee tasted so good. 


The Country Store is the Home of the Bumpass BD Dog.  The back deli is manned by seventy two year old Lyn who proudly makes the BD Dog. It's a hot dog topped with pulled pork North Carolina BBQ (Vinegar not tomato based) and coke slaw.  It was delicious. 


Talking with her, garbed as we are, inevitably the conversation turns to how long we are biking and we say Oregon.She mentioned that she had worked on setting up the 1976 route so I asked her to give me a minute and called over Jim (Retired Park Ranger, Utah) who was a guide on the original inaugural ride back in 1976.The two septuagenarians chatted back and forth and shook hands.

Day 05 (Ashland, VA to Greenwood, VA)

IMG_7246.JPG

Today was miserable.  Miserable,  Horrid.  Not only did a I VOLTUNARILY do this, but I am PAYING to do it.  We did 72 miles today and it rained all the time.  ALL the time except for a brief period when we went inside a cafe in Palmyra, did the rain stop briefly, and then promptly began again when we got back on our bikes.  

My spirits were just flagging but by this time I knew I was at most ten miles away. I had to wait for a freight train when guide Philip came up from behind riding sweep.

Phil and Chris take turns each day, one driving the van, and the other riding their bike behind the rest of us in case there's a breakdown.

In my mind I had missed even the sweep because of the two times I had missed a turn along the route. Seeing Phil was a great morale boost particularly when he commiserated that the rain just made things miserable and horrible.

IMG_7167.JPG

Camp tonight was a mud pit.  Grateful beyond measure that I brought my hammock and rain fly so I could be off the ground.  Eight of the group crammed into a cabin that I think fits four, so it was just Norm (Virginia, Retired Air Force/NASA), Phil (Guide. San Francisco) and I out in the elements.  Once holed up like an overgrown caterpillar in my cocoon of hammock and sleeping bag I was warm, snug, and happy.

Day 03 (Williamsburg, VA to Henrico, VA)

No military campaign had more influence on the course of the Civil War than these Seven Days' battles. George McClellan's army of more than 100,000 Union soldiers landed at Fort Monroe in Spring of 1862, and fought its way up the peninsula.

By mid-May the Army of the Potomac lay on the outskirts of Richmond, hoping to capture the capital of the Confederacy and perhaps end the war. If that strategy succeeded the nation might be reunified, but without the abolltion of slavery.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee chose not to wait for the Federal army's next move. Instead he seized the initiative, and on June 26 advanced across the Chickahodainy
River with nearly 45,000 soldiers. That action opened a week-long series of battles that resulted in the Union army retreating to the banks of the James
liver.

Malvern Hill Battlefield

Union commanders chose an ideal location to fight their last battle of the Seven Days. As many as 40 cannon covered the one-half-mile front, stretching from the slopes of Crew's Run on the left to a similar drop to Western Run on the right. Nearly 80,000 Union soldiers spread out behind or in support of the guns. Open cultivated

fields dotted by shocks of harvested wheat stretched out for half a mile. It was one of the strongest positions held by either army during the war.

FullSizeRender.jpg

We are also passing by several plantations including Sherwood - the former Home of Ninth President John Tyler.His family still owns the place. I ate lunch underneath the shade of a tree planted by President Tyler.  

 

IMG_7311.JPG

Day 02 (Yorktown, Virginia)

FullSizeRender.jpg

Today was a bit of trial and set up day. For the first and only time we turned east to ride to get to Yorktown the official start of the TransAmerica Bike route. From Williamsburg we biked down the Colonial Parkway, a beautiful, impossibly green and tree canopied two lane highway.

 

We settled into Yorktown, ate our snacks, and then went up to the Yorktown Battle Park Visitors Center where I learned about the battle that led to the surrender of British General Cornwallis and inevitably or eventually the Treaty of Paris and the recognition, albeit grudgingly, of our Independence from Britain two years later.

FullSizeRender.jpg

When Cornwallis surrendered, having been cut off a by the French Fleet - he was appalled that Washington would not extend Full Honors of War. General Washington, however, denied Cornwallis that which Cornwallis had previously been unwilling to extend to surrendering Americans at the Battle of the Charlestown Garrison. As a result, the British had to march with flags furled and muskets shouldered, and the surrender articles insisted that the band play "a British or German march."

 We did the ceremonial dipping of the back tire in the water. Yes, it wasn't the Atlantic, but we can see it from here. The official start of the Trans America route is the Yorktown Monument - a large imposing Granite pillar that extends nearly 100 feet on a bluff overlooking the river. This is really the start, so the ride here has been practice. Now we ride back to Williamsburg and we will stay at the same hotel. Tomorrow we finally move West, about forty or fifty miles. That day, and the next 83 days we will be moving west. Always west.

Day 01 (Williamsburg, Virginia)

May 7, 2017

IMG_7013.JPG

 

Introduction Meeting. After more than a year of specific planning and nearly seventeen years of general daydreaming about this kind of trip, today we start. Tonight it's just a get introduced Meeting, along with the rules of the road and the tour. 

We are twelve, including two guides. All are men, and seven are retired. For this kind of trip, the money isn't usually the problem, it's the time. Three months, 84 days to be precise, off work is a luxury that only the well-off or the recently unemployed share.

Tomorrow we bike east, the only time in the trip, to Yorktown for two must-dos of the journey. We'll dip our back tires in the Atlantic (really the York River as it feeds into Cheasepeake Bay, and two, go to the Yorktown Monument which is the official beginning or end of the TransAmerica Trail.

For now it is still a flurry of introductions with one small distinction that classic car owners will likely recognize.

We all prepared to spend the next eighty-three days on a bicycle and use it, exclusively to power ourselves across America. So we all spent a great deal of time and funds on our bikes. When we meet it isn't just limited to a handshake, an exchange of names and residences. What immediately follows is this inspection, like dogs smelling each other's behinds, of our bike choices and add ons.

Day 00 (Williamsburg)

May 6, 2017

IMG_6993.JPG

WiIIiamsburg. In 1693, a charter was granted to establish the William and Mary College at Middle Plantation, which later became Williamsburg. This town shortly became the social, political and cultural center of the colony. In it gathered men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Wythe and George Mason.

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

In the Williamsburg Capital Building, (pictured above) Patrick Henry decried the British Stamp Act in a defiant speech; George Mason advanced his Virginia Declaration of Rights; the Assembly signed the Resolution of Independence on May 15, 1776, and later the same year signed the Virginia Constitution, from which much of the final Constitution of the United States was taken.

 

Walked to the Kings Arms - a tavern with period food, furniture and costumed waitstaff. Colonial Williamsburg is about a mile or so away from the hotel, an easy walk. The Ales were exceptionally good.

 

Dinner tonight was Peanut Soup, quite tasty but really just a mix between peanut butter and peanut sauce. Dining alone quickly loses its charm so i ended up chatting by text with Gina, Sophia and Mother who quickly gave their recommendations as to what to eat.

 

The choice was between the Hunter's Pye or the Bacon wrapped, oyster stuffed, beef tenderloin. The Tenderloin won out of course and it was quite tasty, very tender, and went deliciously with the Ales.

IMG_6987.JPG