Today was a long day. We all knew it was going to be long, but that didn’t help the situation much. I went to bed at 9:30pm as promised and actually managed to wake up at 6am. My usual go-to-bed time became my wake-up time in the span of about 4 days. How many people do you think can say that? So I’m no longer nocturnal. I’m going to miss you, night.
Last night we slept in a back building of a church that I think they built specifically as a meeting hall/place for cyclists to sleep. It’s great that places cater to long distance cyclists like that. We had bathrooms and everything. No showers though. I woke up and made some delicious plain oatmeal. Wait, no, plain oatmeal is disgusting. I tried to spice it up by throwing a little box of raisins in there but the crappiness of the oatmeal overwhelmed them. After eating my mushy cardboard-like breakfast, I enjoyed some instant coffee, 4oz at a time. The coffee was excellent and I look forward to enjoying it out of a larger container, perhaps even a mug, one day. We then took off around 7am and rode through some more battlefields (!). The battlefield we were camping in was the battle of Malvern Hill. Unfortunately the signs were flying by too fast for me to read, so lord knows what happened there. We also passed the actual Cold Harbor Nation Battlefield. That was pretty exciting for me as it was a crucial skirmish in Civil War. It was really early still and very foggy. It seemed an appropriate time to be riding through such hallowed ground.
Our first stop was outside of Mechanicsville. I bought a bagel with several types of cheese baked in/spread on it and a hot coffee. It was probably 90 degrees out at that point, but coffee is always amazing no matter what the weather. I took my rear rack off at this spot. I thought that would lighten my load a bit and make it easier for me to zip around. I was disappointed to find that it didn’t weigh much and I probably took it off for nothing. I think I’ll tack it back on once we get to the plains.
Our second stop was in Ashland, Va. A pretty cool place. It has some of my favorite things; trains running right through town, big old southern houses, and live music. Even during lunch! The musician played that ‘take me home country roads West Virginia song’ which I then had running through my head the whole day. So that sucked. Those are the only words I know. Mountain mama?
Most of the day was spent riding our bikes. Did I mention that we rode 83 miles today? That’s my all time high! I did it in 5 hours 35 minutes, so about 15 miles an hour. It was pretty hilly for awhile there so I am very proud of myself. And look, I wasn’t going super slow; there are other cyclists in my pictures!
At this break we got giant freezy pops. I’ve never seen anything like them. It was really hot and really sunny out. The heat doesn’t bother me because it’s a given, it’s the sun that I worry about. I can feel my skin baking sometimes.
We got to ride over a lot of the little fingers of water that sprout from Lake Anna. Really gorgeous. It made me want to go swimming badly. I was promised swimming on this trip. When do we get to swim?!
Tonight we are camping behind a fire station in Mineral, Virginia. They are so nice to let us use not only their land but their bathrooms and showers. I got to take a shower which is great. I was so dirty I could scrape the grit off of my legs with my fingernail. How is that for a visual? There is a place right down the street that had awesome greasy pizza and ice cream. I had a lot of both. I’m sleeping in my one person tent for the first time. My sister Allie compared it to a coffin. I’m typing this blog in my tent and I forgot to shut the door and a lot of bugs were attracted to the light coming from my laptop and now there’s bugs all over the screen. So that’s pleasant. These are little lessons I have to learn myself.
Tomorrow is the first day of some real climbing as we head into Charlottesville. I feel fine except my butt really hurts from my stupid expensive state of the art seat. I slathered it in oil tonight hoping the leather would start to break in a little. Wish me luck.