Total miles: 63
Ride time: 5 hours 35 minutes
The day started by waking up at 6am as usual. Well, actually the day started by waking up at midnight, 3am, and 5am to the incredibly loud sound of the coal trains that ran on the tracks about 5o feet from my tent. Why do they feel the need to blare their horns when it’s so late at night? Sleeping in a hot, humid tent is bad enough without waking up in a panic because you think you’re going to get hit by a locomotive. After waking up and finding all of my belongings including my tent and sleeping bag soaked with dew, I jammed them into their respective bags before enjoying some cardboard oatmeal and raisins with a 4oz coffee chaser. It was lovely. The morning was cool and foggy like it apparently is every morning at 7am. Who knew?
I rode most of the morning with Catherine Larochelle who is cycling through the state of Virginia with us. She is a very strong cyclist and also French Canadian. No, those things don’t have anything to do with one another. She taught me a lot about drafting and pacing and cadence and climbing along the way. I took this picture of her.
We have seen quite a few loaded tourists along the way. These crazy people carry all of their own gear on their bikes in large bags the entire trip. So they are doing everything that I do with extra weight. They’re my inspiration. This cute Thai woman has 85lbs of gear strapped to her bike. She is over 50 years old and is touring with 4 other fully loaded people over the age of 50. They have my utmost respect. As you can see, we gave them some water. They deserve it.
See that little sliver of gray in the background? It’s a mountain! I’m almost back in my milieu! The climbing today got tough but it was nothing that you wouldn’t see going for a 60 mile ride around Blacksburg. I just sort of chug along. People zip up past me but I just stay at my happy sort of pace and I get there eventually. I figure there’s no point wasting my energy trying to get up a hill 2 minutes faster. Time is relative. My legs are not. What does that even mean, Tara?
We rode triumphantly into Charlottesville where we promptly got lost navigating their downtown area. We finally made it to Bodo’s Bagels where I used to go with my UVa friends when we were hungover after game day weekends. Great place. Hey Ben, Anisha, Lauren, Megha, Liz, I miss those times. Bridget and I decided that beer > bagels and walked two doors down to enjoy a wonderful cold beverage.
Everyone at the bagel shop. It was here I realized our jerseys are UVa colored. Oh no!
We then rode as a pack through the campus (I’m sorry, or is the the grounds?) to the James Q. Miller Clinic, the largest MS specific clinic in the area. It was really touching. As we pulled into the parking lot there was a tent and balloons set up for us and some of the doctors and MS patients were outside clapping. It’s great to be reminded why we ride. Once at the clinic, we took a tour of the facilities and had some of our questions about Multiple Sclerosis answered. It was thundering and lightning something fierce while we were in there so we were thankful for them to let us hang out while the storm passed even though we probably stank up the place.
After that it was a somewhat leisurely ride to fellow cyclists Ben and Caleb King’s parents house. This road pictured was great, but before that we were on this giant road with a lot of traffic. The storm had knocked out power to the stoplights so chaos had ensued and no one could be bothered to pay attention to cyclists. Luckily we had Matt driving our support van and trailer; he used the rig to literally block entire intersections for us. It was awesome, like our own private escort.
When we arrived at the King house we were in for a treat. His parents and some friends of the family had all chipped in and made us a huge dinner. Chicken breasts, an assortment of pasta and casseroles, several types of breads and salads, and dessert. We ate so much. Doesn’t it look good? I ate all this and more. Food is amazing on this trip. I’m not going to lose any weight because I’m using my cycling as an excuse to eat whatever I want, whenever I want.
Tomorrow we have a hell of a climb. Apparently this is one of the hardest climbs we are going to have to do the entire trip. Actually it is the first or second hardest. Harder than anything out west. 14% grades! It’s up Afton Mountain and I’m nervous. I can do it. Slow and steady wins the race. The elevation profile is terrifying. As far as I can tell, its a 90 degree angle up and down the mountain. I hope they have some sort of rope and pulley system for us and our bikes.
Wish me luck! I’m going to need it! Granny gear all the way to the top!