Day 07 (Greenwood, Virginia to Love, Virginia)

It's the hills that really challenge me.  I rate hills along the following measure.

Easy - I can get over them without dropping the front gear into lower gear.

Medium - I can get over them even though I drop fly front gears into lower gear.

Hard - I have to take breaks every now and then to rest my behind, or legs, or lungs.

Crazy, Awful, Sadistic - I have to start walking.

No sun.  But no rain.  That at least is a good sign.  Today is going to be difficult because we have to go uphill a lot in order to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway.

June Curry achieved a measure of fame and immortality, at least amount the biking community as the Cookie Lady and her house became a ritual stop for the TransAmerica route. She passed away and her house still is a stop, but it has fallen into disrepair.

June Curry achieved a measure of fame and immortality, at least amount the biking community as the Cookie Lady and her house became a ritual stop for the TransAmerica route. She passed away and her house still is a stop, but it has fallen into disrepair.

We are firmly in the hill (Mountains) of Appalachia along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Visitors Center here spells out the life in the hills, and the isolation of being so far removed from the roads and traffic.



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)

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)

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.

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 06 (Louisa, Virginia to Greenwood, Virginia)

Today was miserable.  

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

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.

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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.

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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 05 (Ashland, Virginia to Louisa, Virginia)

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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 04 (Henrico County, Virginia to Ashland, Virginia)

It wasn't a really comfortable sleep on the nursery room floor. My watch say I only got 49% sleep, about four hours. Waking up, did some stretches, and then started re packing. At some point it will get to me a routine, honed and true and become second nature. As it is now, I pack, and repack, and it takes me too long. The nice thing is that the old adage about by the time we get it down perfect it will be time to leave, doesn't apply to this trip. At some point I'll have everything down to a routine and it will work and I will have weeks and months left.

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Made lunch (Ham and Turkey sandwich, boiled eggs, blueberries, banana, and crackers) and then ate breakfast (muffin and orange and coffee). Today I bike with Mike (Retired, Belonged to a Cult, Texas, 74) who wants to get a Garmin GPS Navigator tailored for bicycles. Following the route has proved to be a little more challenging than we thought and every turn we have to consult both our maps and phones and GPS devices. Mike, being 74, is my hero and I can only wish, pray and plan that I could do this twenty four years from now.

We are firmly in Civil War History land now and the battle of Cold Harbor and Mechanicsville are coming up.  It seems a little incongruous to see these plaques at the gates of housing developments, but we cannot protect everything, I suppose

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Cold Harbor

Richmond National Battlefield

We started to pull into the second series of battles, but this time it was 1864 and Lee faced Grant, not McClellan, and Grant was not squeamish about using the Army Lincoln gave him, almost to the point of just grindingly savage, losing thousands in a the last charge at Cold Harbor which he says he always regretted.

Generals get to defend and regret, it is the enlisted man and junior officer who must die trying to make the impossible possible.

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The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought from May 31 to June 12, 1864, with the most significant fighting occurring on June 3. It was one of the final battles of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign during the American Civil War, and is remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles. Thousands of Union soldiers were killed or wounded in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified positions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army.

The visitors center is small but has an excellent presentation of the series of battles that made up this Overland Campaign.

Grant said of the battle in his memoirs, "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. ... No advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." The armies confronted each other on these lines until the night of June 12, when Grant again advanced by his left flank, marching to the James River. It was an impressive defensive victory for Lee, but it was his last in the war.

Camping out in my Hammock tonight. We are camping out in the lawn of a friend of our guides. His wife has not only let twelve men camp, cook, drink on the front lawn of their farm, but let them come and use a shower and a bathroom. All while attending to a baby boy and irrepressible little two year old boy who, having discovered my hammock is now my best friend.

The Numbers.

45.6 miles today.  125.3 Total

948 feet up, 853 down for a total of 95 feet gained in altitude.

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.

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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.  

 

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Day 02 (Yorktown, Virginia)

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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