Happy to get on our bikes again to head towards Daleville. A bit of climbing and lots of rollers and following the freeway.
Virginia is just so beautful. The honeysuckles line the roads we are on, the dogwoods and rhododendrons are in full bloom, and we have yet to ride on a flat or straight road.
We both feel stronger every day and I know I have to ride at least 2.4 miles an hour to keep my surly upright on the uphills.
We rode in drizzle most of the day and the roads got more and more remote before the skies finally just opened up and dumped on us. We arrived at our hotel soaked and tired and thankful.
A little rest and a quick shower gave us a second breath and we were eager to meet up with Lee, a fellow bike tourist who lives in the area and who met us for dinner. It is so fun to plan future tours together and discuss bikes and gear with a great guy!
Daleville is a hiker town, as it is just off the Appalachian trail.
We talked to many hikers (and we all fought for the bananas at the breakfast buffet in the hotel). Daleville is also home to Ballast Point Breweries east coast operation, their Brewery here much like a large Walmart. It was interesting to visit, but they need to visit Founders for lessons. Still like my Sculpin, just not as much now😊
We have plenty of time before we have to be home and so much to see, we decided to ride off our planned route and spend some time at Natural Bridge State Park. We headed out of Lexington towards a KOA campground near the Bridge. After setting up our tent, we rode the four miles to Natural Bridge, so glad we decided to visit!
It was breathtaking! A two mile hike through an Indian exhibit,
waterfalls, nice paths and lots of snakes.
Quite amazing. The park was surrounded by remnants of the 50’s, old dinasour parks and creepy zoos. Spooky.
A nice ride back to the KOA, a stop at the brewery by the campground with lots of great conversation with the locals. Dinner and bed.
The next morning was so sunny, the campground and pool looked so nice, we decided to stay one more night. We read and sat by the pool all day. Had fun talking to other campers, one more trip to the beautiful brewery before bed.
Max left us early in the morning to continue on, but Mike and I were eager to explore Lexington. We have plenty of time to finish our journey and we hate to miss an opportunity to explore, an advantage that isn’t lost on us.
We rode into the historic downtown area of Lexington, a small town that is home to both Washington and Lee University and the HUGE Virginia Military Institute.
It was Baccalaureate day at the University so the town was filled with women in big hats and sundresses, men dressed in Brooks Brothers. We zipped (illegally I suspect with our bikes on the pristine sidewalks) around the gorgeous campus and the Military Institute next door. A whole new world to us northerners.
We toured Stonewall Jacksons home, I had a long visit with the ladies at the yarn store before we went to clean up and head to Devils Backbone Brewery for dinner.
What an absolutely beautiful day to be riding the last part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The bit of fog quickly burned off and it was sunny and beautiful.
We had a bit of climbing before we knew we could enjoy lots of downhills.
We ran into Jean, a French cyclist who rode from San Francisco on a bike he purchased on Craigs list. He was headed to New York where he would resell the bike before heading home.
He carried his gear mainly in an ikea Frakta bag strapped to his back luggage rack. So funny all the thinking we do about our gear and this young guy just jumps on a bike and goes!
Getting off the Parkway was quite the adventure. Straight downhill on a narrow road, poorly paved and dark. I pulled over often letting my brakepads cool, as even alternating brakes on the way down wasn’t enough. We had heard stories of Transamerica bike riders ending their tours early crashing on this downhill.
Our scenery changed almost immediatly on this side of the parkway. Gone were the estates and grand houses and plantations. This was looking a little more like Appalachian Country we read about. Small houses and trailers, poor roads and barking dogs.
We started to hear thunder in the distance, that always hurries us along. We rode miles following a stream on a very rural road, met up with Max and together we beat the rain as we rode into Lexington and found a room at a cheap motel.
Before leaving Waynesboro we stopped at a large outfitter store as this is a big Appalachian Trail town. We had talked to several hikers and they all spoke of the rain and cold on the trail, record numbers of hikers leaving. Like bike touring, hiking is really a mental game more then just physical, and many who start out just cannot adjust.
Mike had his bike derailleur adjusted at the outfitters and then off we went to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Being a Monday and before Memorial day we were alone and quite tickled at having the Park to ourselves. The hills were relentless but it was sunny and gorgeous.
We stopped at every turn off and took our time getting to the Cabin we had reserved for the night. As I type this I just remember the beauty, so quick we are to forget the effort!
As usual, we were beat by the end of the day and were delighted at the little cabin that had rented for so cheap!
Just as we settled in we heard a knock on the door, another bike tourist, Max was camping just down the road. After trading tales of woe, we were in bed by 8, and the huge storm hit shortly after. Poor Max was able to stay dry in his hammock, but we were glad we weren’t in a tent. It was actually pretty cozy.
We woke to heavy fog, but Max, who started out before us, texted to assure safe riding conditions.
We sadly had to leave our wonderful B and B, knowing the mountains and climbing would really begin today.
Of course we took a wrong turn first thing, but quickly got back on track. The countryside was gorgeous, lots of farms and views of the Blueridge Mountains.
Quite heavenly. As the day wore on though the hills became more steep, the humidity rose to 100% and the temperature was 95 degrees. When it gets like this Mike and I ride at our own pace, Mike usually a half mile ahead. He stops often to let me catch up, but there is little chit chat.
It was just slow going. Both of us struggling and hot we rounded a curve mid afternoon and found what appeared to be an old grocery store with lots of cars parked near it. Of course we stopped. Inside was an oasis of fine cheeses and wines, a few tap handles, a fresh deli and tables of well off people our age enjoying mountain music. I looked for Ina Garten, it was that crowd.
We stayed as long as we dared, dripping sweat on the tables and enjoying the music, getting strange looks from the well heeled crowd. Oh how we wanted to stay…oh well. Mike talked about it the next five miles.
We were nearing Waynesboro when we had such a steep climb on a road that had no shoulders and heavy, heavy traffic. We just inched up it slowly, stopping often for water. It was so tough and we had to push our 90lb bikes often, just to stay safe and off the road. The roads we have traveled on in Virginia have been wonderfully paved and curvy, but few have shoulders. We have also found there are few switchbacks on the ascents, most likely due to the age of the road system. Everything is straight up or straight down.
We finally enjoyed the long descent into Waynesboro just in time for a huge downpour. Found a local brewery, dove in and enjoyed a great cold beer and fantastic meal from the food truck..We are feeling stronger but somedays it is pretty tough.
Dark skies this morning and a threat of rain, along with poor planning on our part provided us with a real dilemma. We were headed to Charlottesville VA but due to University graduations there was no lodging within 50 miles of the town. Camping in the rain was not an option (for me). We sat in the local library for an hour, using their internet, searching for options.
We made the big decision to bypass Charlottesville and head south to Scottsville where we found a room at a bed and breakfast. Off we went.
It was a long wet day of 50 miles in the drizzle and rain, but when we climbed to the top of the town and saw our accommodations we were thrilled.
This was once the summer home of the Dilliards, of the department store chain. The grounds were designed as an arboretum so it was gorgeous.
After a long bath and rest we headed into the town, which super cute and clean, all on the James River. The big thing in town was Karaoke at the local brewery, but it started at 9pm, past our bedtime. Had a wonderful meal at the local pub.
The most amazing thing about our B and B though was the now owner was a retired Navy guy who spent his life designing aircraft carriers! How cool is that! And Jean, his wife with her needlework! Swoon.
Coffee by the pond in the morning and a lovely breakfast followed.
The whole thing was a bit of a splurge for us, but what a treat!
Once again we woke to beautiful weather, though the forecast said rain. Heading out of town we ran into two women riding the Transamerica bicycle trail, the same route as us, it was so good to connect and ride with others. We rode through roads littered with downed trees, pooling water, and flooding. Schools were closed and so were roads.
We continued on with Brythnie and Keri and listened to their interesting story.
There is a non profit for military veterans which provides wilderness experiences totally free of charge for those accepted into the program.
This program provides experiences such as hiking, biking, kayaking. Once accepted they support you on your experience. Brythnie and Keri, both veterans had been accepted into this program and were riding beautiful bikes with all wonderful supplies, sponsored by companies. What a gift!
We rode with them until Mike and I decided to take a different route to our destination, we all met at the Mineral Fire Department.
Mineral is a small town with a huge heart. The fire department for years has been hosting cyclists, providing camping or indoor shelter, showers, electric and bathrooms. No charge. It was rain in the forecast so we headed into their large meeting room and all staked our claim to floor space.
Feeling the generosity and goodness of others today.
Rain again this morning but no more postponing the inevitable. We had to move forward. Off we went towards Ashland, a small railroad town. Before long the sun came out and we had a very nice ride through the outskirts of Richmond, the huge houses and yards, more historic buildings and plantations.
We got to the cute,very well kept town, found a great coffee shop and after a little break headed out to ride through the gorgeous campus of Randolph-Macon.
We found a cheap hotel, an extremely good farm to table restaurant and listened to the rain. Again. I mean a downpour!
We have begun to rely on Uber at night to explore the towns in the rain!
We got to our hostel just as it started to rain again, but the hostel was so gorgeous! Found a local brewery before getting to bed early.
We had a lazy morning doing wash and sending another box home before heading out for the Capitol building tour. It is quite an amazing building because Thomas Jefferson designed it with the help of a French Architect, and they modeled it after a Roman building, perhaps a little kick in the pants to the British and the Colonial designs they favored.
Our tour guide was so good, so knowledgeable. We both love a good tour guide.
Finished the tour in time for another downpour so we ubered it out to a local popular pub for dinner, then back to the hostel.