No Way So Hey – Day 3

So Nick and Amy were at the hostel. They are from England and have embarked on an honest to god 50 states bike tour. They have 49 to go. Godspeed.

Nick and a cool Bhuddist tattoo on his calf.

I went out to dinner at Perlys, a bona fide Jewish deli. The beef hot dog was huge, the bun was beyond awesone, and the everything chips were so good I ordered a second helping. (Everything means onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt, etc. Like an everything bagel.) And they had draft beer and ale (and cider and wine and all the things). I had a lager and a red ale. Burp.

Back at the hostel a little boy named Logan was acting like a dog. He had curly brown hair and was impossibly cute. Four Japanese young women were playing pool incompetently. A Japanese guy tried mansplaining it to them. He was ineffective. 

Breakfast was free. After stuffing myself I made myself a double decker PB and J just in case. Nick, Amy, and I agreed that we must stop periodically and eat. That was my plan. 

Hostel bike parking humor

Note to Cathy Plume: Tell John I really liked the hostel. 

Our the door and past the state capital, I wandered a bit until I found the Capital Trail. It’s a paved trail that goes from Richmond to Jamestown and the ferry across the James River. 

Services were lacking so I rode about 30 miles until I came to Cul’s Courthouse Grill. It was 11 am so time for second breakfast like a good hobbit. Another club sandwich and ice water. (Lord, the beers on tap were tempting.)

On impulse I bought a big chocolate chip cookie, just in case. 

Charles City is all about the love

The trail is bordered by a two lane highway which is a bit of a buzz kill. Bandit campers, however, would have a field day. Lots of opportunities to sneak off into the woods.

At one point I spooked a very large bird of prey in the tall grass next to the trail. It burst into the air and careened away from me into the woods. Scared the crap out of me.

The trail passes several plantations which gets kind of depressing. History buffs will take forever riding the trail because there are historic markers, sometimes in clusters, from end to end. This area is thick with colonial, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War history. And President Tyler lived here. (I don’t know much about him either.)

I stopped at a store and bought some sports drink, a banana, and chewy candy. Just in case. 

I didn’t visit Jamestown, because I already went with my family years ago. (It’s well worth the time by the way.) 

I just missed a ferry and waited 20 minutes. The chat with a 60 something guy in a Miata was fun. The ride itself took about 15 minutes. The river was calm and the weather was a comfortable 79 degrees. Twas a lovely cruise.

A few hills came next, but my granny gear got the job done. 

Most of the farm fields so far had been filled with either soy beans or desicated corn stalks. Big farm machinery was chopping it down and spitting the ground up remains into trucks. 

On the south side of the James I think the soy turned to peanuts. (I am a city boy.) And I rode by field of cotton for the first time in my life. I can’t imagine what picking cotton in southern heat and humidity must have been like.

I reached my scheduled stop, a state campground, at about 2:30. I had ridden 60 miles but I had fresh legs and oodles of food and drink so I decided to push on. At Bacons Castle I didn’t see any bacon or a castle so I bought a banana and a bottle of water and forged ahead.

Cotton, peanuts, corn and level ground. It never got oppressive hot or humid and a gentle breeze seemed to come from every direction. 

The roads were narrow. Local drivers don’t get the three-foot passing rule so I had a few close encounters with big metal things. The roads were mostly chip seal so the tires on the passing vehicles made much more noise than usual.

A UPS van driver pulled up next to me. His right hand door was open.

Where’re you coming from?


Where you going?

Key West.

Have a great trip! 

And he drove off.

I arrived arrived at the turnoff to the next campground at 85 miles near Athens town of Isle of Wight. It was about 4:30. My legs were fresh, I had consumed my sports drink but still had my PB and J and the cookie. No fear! On to Suffolk.

The next 5 miles were more of the same. I was starting to get tired so I ate the PB and J. Rebirth!

I arrived in Suffolk Va and called the campground. No tent spaces, only cabins for $70. I said ” No Way so hey” and asked the Google for motels. After some pathetic wandering I asked the Google for directions. The route took me through a poor section of town. Depressing. 

I arrived at the Super 8. It’s not posh but it’s cheap and the room isn’t half bad. 

103 miles. Whoa. 

As I typed this my legs have been cramping. Could be an interesting night.

I thought I messed up my day by day plan but it was just the fatigue of the end of the day getting to my head. I am now about 1/2 day ahead of schedule. 

My maps indicate that there are few services after 30 miles tomorrow. So I may be doing about 90 miles. 

Either way I’m scheduled to enter North Carolina tomorrow. Woot!

Some Ride/Hike Ideas for 2016

About a year ago I was admonished by a friend for sounding wishy washy regarding my 2015 vacation plans. “Stop planning. All we have is today” was her way of saying don’t plan, DO!  Irony alert: in January 2014 she told me of her plans to obtain certification to teach in DC schools and to open a business. She followed through on none of it, eventually leaving town. Even so, she had a point.

I suck at advance planning. Somehow I managed to do a bike tour, a non-bike trip around the world, nearly a dozen day hikes, half a dozen bicycling events, and take in a bunch of Nationals games. So with that in mind I began thinking about things to do in 2016.

I anticipate one non-biking vacation (to Sweden and thereabouts) to visit my daughter.  (A return to Thailand in the dry season would be nice but I can’t face the 18 hours of flying right now. Maybe 2017.) That will leave plenty of vacation time. So here are some ideas I am tossing around in my head.

Hiking: there are still many, many hikes to do in the Shenandoah National Park. Also, I have barely scratched the surface of hiking in nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Trail. One possibility is to gear up and do some overnights. I have never done this and it would be an interesting extension of my day hikes (not to mention save on driving home after a day’s worth of hiking).

Biking Events: WABA swears that it’s going to offer a century ride this year.  If it works into my schedule, I’ll definitely do it. Then there are the usual events: Vasa, Cider, 50 States, Backroads, and Great Pumpkin. I’ve done all of these several times, but the Backroads course was moved to West Virginia this year. I was in Australia and missed it. I can’t wait to do the new version. Two more that I keep threatening to do are RAGBRAI and the Five Boro Ride in New York City. Both of them are cattle drives. Both offer logistical challenges. Some of what follows are a lot easier to do.

Bike Trails: There are all kinds of cool trails around here that I haven’t ridden. Here’s a list of Virginia trails:

  • The Virginia Capital Trail goes between Williamsburg and Richmond. This could be a fun 2-day deal or a long single day ride.
  • High Bridge State Park down near Farmville and Appomattox looks really cool with a long, high bridge.
  • The Virginia Creeper Trail is a bit of a drive from DC. It’s only 34 miles but could be a beast of an out and back ride.
  • The New River Trail is a 57-mile trail that looks really promising with 30 trestles and bridges and two tunnels. This is a two-day ride with camping I think.

In Pennsylvania the Pine Creek Rail Trail runs 63 miles through the Grand Canyon of the East. Looks like a good overnight camping round trip to me.

Bike Tours: Right now I have eight possibilities on my list. All in the Eastern U.S.

  • Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway: This is a monster tour, 578 miles from Front Royal, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina. How the hell I’d get back is anybody’s guess. It’s also super hilly so I figure I’d be lucky to average 45 miles per day, 13  days of riding. This could be beyond my physical abilities. (Never stopped me before.)
  • The Natchez Trace: This 444 mile road is truck free. Tack on another 90 miles or so and the route would go from Nashville to New Orleans. Logistics on this one is a bit pricey (two bike flights). Bike Friday to the rescue?
  • Figure 8 in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York: Adventure Cycling has two routes that form a figure 8. One loops around Lake Champlain, the other does a lap of the Adirondack Park. This one would be logistically pretty easy as I have family in the Albany area where the Adirondack route begins. The total distance exceeds 700 miles. The riding in Vermont and upstate New York is incredibly nice. Also weather up yonder is pretty much perfect for cycling in June – August.
  • La Route Verte: There are over 5,000 kilometers of marked bike routes in Quebec. The possibilities are endless. Then there is the interesting prospect of conversing in my horrid, mostly forgotten high school French. The idea of cycling to Quebec City, which I have never seen, or around Montreal is pretty intriguing. Getting there is a bit of a haul, but c’est la vie.
  • A New Kind of Rail Trail – North: Amtrak now has roll on bike service on the East Coast. Theoretically (relying on Amtrak is always an iffy proposition) I could take my bike on a trail and ride to Brunswick Maine, then ride up to Acadia National Park and ride all or part way home.
  • A New Kind of Rail Trail – South: Alternatively, I could take the train to Florida, ride to Key West, ferry to Tampa and ride across the state to Amtrak in Miami. Or just ride home.
  • Around Lake Michigan: This one starts in Monroeville, Indiana, one of the most bike touring friendly small towns in the US. It heads north through lower Michigan into the Upper Peninsula. Then across to Wisconsin and returns by crossing Lake Michigan on a ferry.  It’s 1,100 miles. Logistics would be simplified by using my in-laws house in north central IN as an alternative starting point.

In the increasingly likely (yet still somewhat improbable) possibility that I retire there is this:

  • The Trans Am/Western Express/Northern Tier Cross Country Ride: There remains a faint possibility that I might retire this year. If so, adios, amigos! I don’t know which route I’d take but the possibilities are numerous. The Trans Am is the classic route from Yorktown to the Oregon coast through Yellowstone. The Western Express shortens the Trans Am by taking a b-line across Utah and Nevada for California. The Northern Tier goes close to the US-Canada border.

Once I find out when the WABA Century and the Sweden trip will happen, I’ll pick two of the tours and as many events and hikes as my aging bones can handle.