Trees to Keys Chapter 2
Well, Chapter 2 began almost exactly as Chapter 1 ended… we flew from Sacramento to Boston on 4/19, took the T from the airport to South Station, and then did a 10-minute brisk and windy walk to, you guessed it, Legal Sea Foods. We had a relaxing dinner with Cheyenne and Nick, and caught-up on their adventures. Then Andy’s friend, Christina, picked us up after dinner, and took us back to her lovely house. We got all our gear organized – kinda-sorta – and slept in the same, cozy guest room as we did in September.
This morning, we got an early-ish start, waking-up at 4:00am Pacific time, having a yummy, quick breakfast with Christina, and then heading to Dave and Jeannet’s house to retrieve the bike they stored for us over the winter. Then, we were on the road.
After several months of not much cycling, we decided to make Day 1 a pretty short ride. Our first stop was, of course, Dunkin Donuts, about 2 miles after we started pedaling. Notice the joy on Andy’s face? As with Chapter 1, there was a Dunkin Donuts about every two miles in populated areas. We passed at least 10 of them today.
Spring was just beginning – daffodils starting to bloom, fruit trees still with flowers, and very chilly temperatures – but it was a lovely day. We stopped for pizza in Douglas, MA for lunch at Gregory’s, which was very tasty – thin, crisp crust with yummy veggies. The only disappointment was that the ice cream store next-door was closed.
As we neared our stop for the day, just a few miles before crossing in to Connecticut, we passed by Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaug. Yes, that’s really the name, as shown on this sign.
After climbing a few more hills – total over 2,800 feet for the day – we arrived at B&B at Taylor’s Corner. It’s a lovely, restored building, originally built in the 1700s, and, fortunately, updated since then. The owner, Brenda, is very kind. We ordered Italian dinner from a local restaurant that delivers (!), had a relaxing supper, and will, hopefully, be ready for an early start for Day 2.
After a comfortable night and a yummy breakfast at Taylor’s Corner B&B, and watching the rain come down, we donned all of our rain gear as the rain changed to sprinkles, and started the pedal. Our hosts, Brenda and Kevin, gave us a few suggestions to adjust our route to save us few miles and reduce our time on busy roads.
It just so happened that our first road was named Rocky Hill, which set the tone for the rest of the day. Yes, lots of hills. Fortunately, it was through beautiful country with trees and flowers coming into bloom, lovely homes, and friendly drivers. We also figured out that we were in maple syrup country, with tubes on trees, leading into the syrup-concentration-station (aka a remote barn-like structure).
About half-way through today’s journey, we saw… yes… a Dunkin Donuts, attached to a mini-mart. As we entered, we noticed another dining opportunity, Mike’s Pizza, was also part of the mini-mart. Since we’ve had so little pizza on this trip, we decided that would be a good spot for lunch. It was also the only section with seats – actually similar to cowboy stools – right at the pizza counter.
We made our pizza choices, sat down, and started talking with, it turned out, the owner… Pizza Mike. We learned that he was a UConn grad, who majored in business and nutritional science. He, and his twin brother, David – Deep Dish David – had started the business there about 21 months ago. They’re sharing the work from 11 am to 11 pm seven days a week, with their parents helping out sometimes. They make all the pizza dough, prep all the toppings, and bake it right there. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood… really yummy. And, of course, Dunkin is right across the store for some dessert – Boston Crème for Kim and French Cruller for Andy.
Back on the bike, after about 12 miles, we entered the outskirts of Hartford (one of the three oldest towns in Connecticut, established in 1645), and continued navigating our way through the suburbs, finally seeing the downtown Hartford skyline. As we pedaled our way into the city, we found a lovely bike path that took us across the Connecticut River, after ignoring this sign.
We arrived in downtown, and found ourselves on an elevated section of the city, with only stairs to get us down to the road we needed to pedal on. We asked a local couple walking by, and they directed us to a ramp that said “No bicycles allowed. Wheelchairs only”. So, we kept pedaling looking for another option, only to find a dead-end. So, we turned around, preparing to tote the bike down the stairs. After we turned around we noticed the local couple walking back towards us. The guy said they’d come back so that he could let us know where the bike-accessible ramp was. So cool!
After we coasted down the ramp, we were really in downtown Hartford, and navigated – and guessed – our way through town and drizzly rain for the last 10 miles. Fortunately, there were excellent bike lanes, wide shoulders, and friendly drivers (even on Friday afternoon!).
We arrived at our home for the night, in Farmington, got checked-in by a wonderfully helpful front-desk team. While Andy waited for the dinner delivery, nope, not pizza, the hotel shuttle-driver volunteered to take Kim to Best Buy (about 5 miles away), to look for a cord to connect the camera to the computer. The “chauffeur” was originally from Costa Rica, moved to the US in 1963, and now has 3 generations living here.
After more excellent help from the Best Buy tech person, quick success in finding the needed cord, a friendly drive back “home”, good dinner, and seeing the rain come to a conclusion, we’ve wrapped-up Day 2.
After a really loud night – high school basketball team members (unsupervised) in the room next door – we woke with the sunrise, had breakfast, loaded the bike, and began to pedal. It was a day filled with navigating lots of busy areas…and… rain! We’d checked the weather forecast, and it said only a 30% chance of precipitation, with that moving to zero by mid-morning. Turned out, that wasn’t correct.
Drizzle, drizzle, rain, drizzle, and chilly temperatures were our travel companions for today. Then, when the sun began to appear, after our lunch stop at Split Rail in Woodbury, there was much joy, until the rain started again after just a few minutes.
We did have some lovely views of creeks, small water falls, fields, and the rolling hills of CT. The beautiful riverside homes along the mirror-like Hausatonic River, helped encourage us to pedal up the steep hills – some 8% grades. After arriving mid-afternoon in Danbury, our destination for today, we checked-in to our home for the night, had dinner at Chilis, ice cream at Friendlys, and time to catch-up on some reading.
Another day of progress! NY tomorrow!
After a quieter, and more comfortable night of actual sleep, we awoke to a sunny morning. Not a cloud in the sky…yippee! After breakfast and packing, we were on the road by about 8:30. We navigated our way through downtown Danbury, winding our way back into the countryside. After about 6 miles, we crossed into our third state of this chapter, New York – 4 days, three states… a little different than riding south-to-north in California!
After arriving in Brewster, we did our, becoming habitual, stop at Dunkin Donuts, and had another Old Fashioned (Kim) and Cruller (Andy). Then, we were back on the road, and after about 4 miles we arrived at the best bike trail ever – the Putnam Rails-to-Trails. The full trail is about 53 miles, all paved. Given the weather, and that it’s a weekend day, it was pretty full of walkers, joggers, and bike riders, in both directions, which made it a more “sociable” pedal than most days.
We rode on the trail for about 20 miles, through lovely forest, along beautiful creeks, viewing several mansions on hills nearby, and saying “hi” to numerous walkers participating in an MS fundraiser. We also navigated around many 4-to-6-year-olds, learning how to ride their two-wheeler, crashing into none. Phew!! We stopped for a break at a muscle car show that had taken over the parking area of the train station that the rails-to-trails path went right through. We talked with an EMT who’s getting ready for a fundraising bike ride from New York to DC to honor police officers who had died in the line of duty.
After about 4 more miles of pedaling, which included crossing Croten Reservoir on a “recycled” train bridge, we arrived at the designated Exxon station, at the same time as Andy’s friend, Matthew. Perfect timing. We took a break, had some mini-mart lunch, and then were back on the trail, following Matthew to his house in Hastings on Hudson, our home for today.
After more time on the bike trail, seeing the largest Coca Cola bottling plant and distribution center we’ve ever seen (more than 100 trucks and trailers), and navigating through an industrial area, we made our last climb of the day to Matthew and Karen’s house. Wonderful friends. Wonderful food. Wonderful battery recharge for tomorrow – the pedal through The Big Apple!
After a wonderfully quiet, comfortable, and warm night, we were up for an early breakfast of home-roasted coffee and oatmeal with nuts and craisins. By 7:30 we were coasting down the hill we climbed yesterday evening, led by Matthew. We started pedaling along the same, paved, trail we were on yesterday. After about 8 miles, the paving was over and we entered Van Cortland Park, the border of The Bronx and Yonkers. What a weird way to enter NYC. Matthew said adios, and we decided to try pedaling on a dirt trail, for about a mile, rather than experience the Monday traffic on paved roadways.
Lucky for us, yet again, it turned out well. We were back on “real” roads – lots of cars, barking dogs, police cars with lights flashing – quicker than we may have wanted. We began to feel like local New Yorkers as we were beeped at by numerous cars. The drivers were kind about giving us room to pedal, and of course there were at least two (good natured) shouters.
When we made our next turn – as directed by Google Bike-Maps – we were on a much quieter road, got to pedal by Fordham University, and through nice neighborhoods. As we got deeper into The Bronx, we got a little bit lost, so we asked one of New York’s finest, who was standing outside his patrol car, for some direction help. He was super kind, and told us the way to pedal by Yankee Stadium, and end up where we wanted to go! So, we did!! It was surreal to pedal the tandem to Gate 4 of Yankee Stadium.
After the stadium stop, as we crossed the 155th Street bridge, we asked a local biker for directions to the West Side. He directed us to Broadway, which we found, and rode on… we must be stars, right? Then we followed some bike commuters to the Hudson River Bike Path, which we stayed on for about 9 miles, to the new World Trade Center building. Much easier than navigating the road traffic!
We could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial, the Empire State Building, and even a few clay tennis courts. There were so many friendly people – other bikers, walkers, park maintenance workers – all willing to help with any questions.
We were guided to the ferry building, got snacks, and boarded the ferry – which leaves to cross the Hudson every seven minutes (yes, really!). We were able to easily navigate the bike onto the ferry, and Andy got some great pictures of the Manhattan skyline as we cruised.
After the river-crossing, and our arrival in New Jersey, our fourth state in five days, we weaved our way, easily, through Jersey City, then arrived in Newark. After getting briefly lost in a park with a cross-country trail – which looked like the bike-way to the bridge we needed to cross – we found our way back to civilization. And, the traffic took over – lots of big trucks, cars, cars, and more cars. The good news, at least for us, is that all were moving about 5 miles an hour. So, we were able to keep-up, and we were totally surrounded, and… we made it over the bridge on Highway 1 across the Hackensack River.
With the adventures on pause, and no Dunkin Donuts on our side of the street, we stopped at McDonalds – our first one for this Chapter – and had a snack and a bit of rest. With more assistance from Google Bike-Maps, we pedaled on more side-streets, through interesting neighborhoods and small towns. After about another couple hours of pedaling, we did see a Dunkin Donuts, on our side of the street, which alerted us that it was time to stop for a break. Yep, a Cruller and an Old Fashioned.
Back on the bike, we had to do a short detour due to police action just down the road, then we were back on course, with smooth roads, friendly drivers, interesting shops, and no hills. After about 5 hours of pedaling, we arrived at our stop for today in Bridgewater. Big day tomorrow….with more rain in the forecast…
We knew today would be a long day, and we thought it might be a rainy day, but hoped it wouldn’t be. And…. It turned out to be both. We started pedaling about 7:30 after spending the night in Bridgewater, NJ. It was a windy morning, but fortunately, it was a tailwind, so we made good progress through, around, and along-side the busy commuters. We had tried to use a bike trail to avoid the traffic, but it turned out to be unpaved, muddy, and bumpy, so we returned to country roads and city streets.
Through New Jersey, past farms and canals and many commuters – fortunately headed the opposite direction to work – we finally got back on our route and found ourselves in Princeton, NJ. We stopped at Small World Coffee, near Princeton University, and enjoyed our morning snack, and rest, with a contingent of students and professors, as we watched the first round of rain arrive.
After the snack, and the rain stopping, we walked the bike across the street to a bike shop we’d noticed as we relaxed, to see if they could adjust the tandem timing chain. It turned out that it was a bit more complicated than we thought, and they didn’t have the tools, so the mechanic gave us the name and location of another bike shop, which he thought could help – and we thought was too far off our desired route – so off we pedaled.
Back on the bike, on a good road, with a bit of rain – and the spectacular redbuds and dogwood trees – we, ultimately, determined that we weren’t on the road we wanted to be on, but we were on a road that was parallel to the correct one, so we kept pedaling. We came to an intersection with a road to take us to Trenton, NJ, which was part of the route, so we made the turn, and in just a few miles we “arrived” at the bike shop the previous bike shop had recommended – Knapp’s Cyclery.
The shop was great – lots of bikes and supplies – and the owner, Pete, was terrific. He’s been working at the shop since he was 13, bought it back in 1989, and now he and his wife work there together. He knew exactly what to do – put the tandem on the rack and made the perfect adjustments. A total wizard! He tightened the chain, totally eliminating the goofy sound we’ve had for thousands of miles. We also got to air-up the tires – a terrific improvement. Then, when we asked how much we owed them, Pete said…”nothing, have a great trip”. WOW! So, we’ve invited them to come to Nor Cal with their kids and enjoy some spectacular mountain biking, which they sounded really interested in doing.
We finished biking through Trenton, saw a huge statue of George Washington, as we, too, crossed the Delaware River – ok, on a bridge, not a boat, but we still crossed it! Then, we were in Pennsylvania, our fifth state in six days. We cruised along the Bristol Turnpike for about 20 miles, had a quick stop for lunch, and survived about 2 miles of the road that has been “prepared” for resurfacing – aka turned totally rough and bumpy. Then we navigated ourselves through some old neighborhoods, before re-fueling at Dunkin Donuts. Yep, again.
Back on the road, we pedaled through downtown Philadelphia, saw University of Pennsylvania, and talked with a guy driving a mini-van at about 3 stoplights in a row, due to slow traffic, who asked us if we had room for a third person on the bike (Shouter #4). We had to ask a few people for directions, due to cross-streets and one-way-only signs, and finally found our way to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, to pedal on a bike trail, to keep us out of busy streets, which we’d hoped would be paved.
And… it wasn’t, but we decided to stick with the plan, and ended up pedaling through lots of mud, puddles, and rocks, during the rain which had switched from sprinkles to real rain. After about 3 miles, we made it through to the last road of the day. After jogging the bike across the busy highway, using the rest of our water to wash the mud and grit off our chains and pedals, we were back on a real road, which delivered us to our home for the night. Luckily, given the continuous rain, there was a restaurant, Philly Diner, less than 100 feet from the front door of the motel.
After the long and challenging day, we were reminded how grateful we are for the help and training that our workouts at CrossFit Gold Rush provided during our tax-season prep for this adventure! We didn’t get there as often as we’d hoped, yet even those days made a difference. Keeping our fingers crossed for, at least a little, sun tomorrow.
After listening to lots and lots of rain, all night long, and being very glad we weren’t still pedaling, we got an early start. With a quick hotel breakfast and bike-packing, we were on the road before 7:30. The opening miles were through oil refineries – one belonging to Sunoco – with pipes and tanks and trucks covering acres and acres.
The excellent part of today, and for the last few days (which we’ve forgotten to mention…) has been the designated bike lanes, complete with signs and lines painted on the pavement. Then we arrived to state number 6, Delaware, which also had bike lanes, terrific paving, and friendly drivers – even during rush-hour.
We navigated through neighborhoods, some with really old, yet well maintained, houses, and some in decline. We got to Governor Prinz Boulevard, which had wonderful, newly paved bike lanes (can you tell how much we love them??), and took us to Wilmington. We then had to pick our way through various neighborhoods, and then industrial zones until we turned onto Highway 40 – stopping for lunch at McD’s, and a bit later, a snack at Dunkin Donuts…yep, again.
The adventure of the day, looked as if it would be pedaling across the Susquehanna River, near the very tip of Chesapeake Bay, on a very long bridge (at least ¾ of a mile long). However, when we actually got there, we found that the right lane had been “coned-off” so that we had the entire lane to ourselves until we got to the very end, where a repair team was working on the bridge, for about 100 feet. The drivers in the left lane welcome-waved us over, and the adventure was complete.
After the bridge it was lovely, comfortable pedaling through about 6 miles of beautiful dogwood and cherry trees, and Kim had to stop for a picture of this path of petals. Then, we arrived at Aberdeen, MD – seventh state in seven days – and wrapped-up our day.
We departed Aberdeen at 8:30, after doing laundry yesterday evening – yes, actually clean kits today – a comfortable sleep, and a solid breakfast buffet. We were welcomed to the day’s journey by a beautiful, blue sky, a tailwind, and more good bike lanes.
Since we know you’d like to hear about our first stop, again… we pedaled for about an hour, until we arrived at the first Dunkin Donuts. We had a nice conversation about our journey with local contractors, who’d also stopped for nutrition. Back on the path, we saw more lovely dogwood trees, in full bloom.
After some navigation issues, we finally made our turn off of highway 40 into the suburbs of Baltimore, and then… into a McDs for another snack and conversation with more locals. A group of construction workers came in for a snack, too, and complimented us on the bike and our adventure.
Back on the road, we navigated through some old neighborhoods, past the largest cemetery we’ve seen, and on to North Wolf Street. That took us right through Johns Hopkins University, and into downtown Baltimore. We made it to the Inner Harbor Area, and got to listen to a trumpet-playing street-performer who was really good! Then we wandered a bit, unsuccessfully locating our route.
We finally hailed a local policeman on a bike, and he actually led us – yes, a police escort(!) – to where we needed to go. And… we arrived at Camden Yards – home of the Baltimore Orioles. We also rode up to, and around, the Baltimore Ravens stadium. A great downtown, a well done Inner Harbor area, with two stadiums within walking distance. Baltimore. Who knew?
We found, what we thought, was our bike path of the day, which turned out to go nowhere. After turning around and pedaling through a large hospital parking lot (uninjured) we happened upon our correct street and wove our way through the last few miles to our home for tonight, near BWI – which we flew through on our way to start this Chapter. After dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, we’re ready to call it a day… and be ready for tomorrow! .
After being “rocked” to sleep by all of the jets arriving and departing from BWI, we were awake early and on the road about 7:30. It was a beautiful morning, with a blue, cloudless, sky, comfortable temperature, and kind, rush-hour, drivers. We wove our way around the airport, via, yet another, road in the early phase of being resurfaced… aka really bumpy and gravelly.
The reward was our first Dunkin stop of the day to enjoy our standard snacks, and chatting with the other Dunkin-patrons who asked about our bike and our journey. Then, we were back on our old friend, Highway 1, which we’ve been on a few times since we entered the top of Maine, at Fort Kent, in Chapter 1.
After about seven-ish miles we turned onto Rhode Island Ave which took us through the University of Maryland, which was busy and crowded, so we did some zig-zagging between streets and sidewalks, until we broke on through to the other side. We pedaled through College Park, some nice neighborhoods, and entered the District of Columbia, snapping this picture with a local who was hanging out in the shade near the sign.
We navigated our way to Union Station, parked the bike next to The Bell, and had a nice conversation with Phyllis, from Pittsburgh, who was there to meet her son. Back on the bike we wound our way the last couple blocks to the Capitol on the super-wide sidewalks, through groups of tourists, most speaking a language other than English.
We successfully arrived at the Capitol (always impressive), and snapped these pictures. Andy estimated the crowd size to be about 3 million people, the largest ever to see a tandem parked in front of this fountain. After the celebration, we were back on the bike, navigating through the National Mall, past the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, which looked more like the “reflecting swamp” with all the leaves, pollen, etc floating in it, along with just a few ducks. Yard/lawn geek Andy noted that the lawns on the Mall were in the best shape he’s ever seen, no doubt helped by the recent rains and limited use in January.
Then, we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, and met nephew, Gabe! He lives and works, and bicycles, in DC. He’d offered to guide us through town and connect us to the bike/jog/walk path along the GW Parkway that will take us to Kim’s sister and brother-in-law’s house in Alexandria, our home for tonight.
He was awesome! It was terrific to have a guide through the busy streets, especially since he led us to a local coffee shop (no, not a Dunkin), where we took a break, had gelato, a veggie wrap for Kim, and other sweet treats. Back on the bikes, he also took us to a bike shop where Andy got the chain-lube he’s been looking for, which the shop didn’t charge him for, since the journey we’re on is “so cool”.
After navigating us along the bike trail for a few more miles, Gabe headed back to DC and we wove our way up hills and through neighborhoods, until we arrived at Matt and Tami’s place. So great to see them! After clean-up and some planning for tomorrow, we had a relaxing evening of yummy Indian food, watching a movie, doing laundry, etc. Tomorrow is going to be our first non-pedal day, and we may drive/explore Sunday’s route to Fredericksburg.
This morning (4/30), we scheduled an early start to try and miss the hottest part of today – forecasted to be in the high 80’s to low 90’s, and humid…yes, very humid. We were fed, and packed, and ready to pedal at 7:00. Tami escorted us, via her nifty Mazda, through their neighborhood, so we could get back on the GW Parkway bike trail.We took yesterday (4/29) as a day off the bike, spending time with Kim’s sister, Tami, and her husband, Matt…and getting to spend two nights in the same place! They took us on a drive of the route for Day 11, which was excellent, since it alerted us to some construction areas to avoid. We also got to walk around historic Fredericksburg, with Gabe and Veronica joining us again – for lunch and frozen custard – and see some spots we’d not be able to visit on the bike.
After a few miles, we arrived at Mount Vernon, which was also the end of the official bike trail, but not the end of the designated bike lanes, which we totally love! Then we were back on Highway 1, which we were on back in Chapter 1 when we entered the top of Maine from Canada. We pedaled by Fort Belvoir (which is the largest employer in Fairfax County) and Marine Corps Base Quantico (which is over 55,000 acres).
Then, we were back into rural Virginia, which we remembered from our Sea-to-Shining-Sea adventure. Lots of lovely fields, farms, and huge lawns – some more than 5 acres – many of which were being mowed since it was a sunny day, after plenty of rain and grass growing! We followed the Adventure Cycling route for all of today, except the last three miles. Great roads, friendly drivers, and beautiful country, with so many trees we were almost in tree-tunnels (great, shady, break from the hot sun). The only “downside” is that we passed only one Dunkin, on the left side of the road, so we didn’t stop. And, it was our first day of running out of water. Ahhhh, the rural life! Fortunately, we did find a local mini-store, where we stopped for refills and snacks.
After about 17 more miles we pedaled across an excellent bridge, with a bike lane, across the Rappahannock River, and found our way to our home for tonight – very eager for showers and an air-conditioned room!
Today was, almost, a repeat of yesterday – although with much, much more headwind, and plenty of short, very steep hills. Basically, it was a combination of windy Kansas and hilly Maine. There were still nice, historic, houses, lots and lots of huge, green lawns, wheat fields, and friendly drivers.
We started our ride on the Fredericksburg bike path, the old canal tow-path (originally used to tow barges down the Rappahannock River Canal). On our way out of town, we pedaled past the tap house where we had lunch with Tami, Matt, Veronica, and Gabe on Saturday.
After about 12 miles of pedaling, we were ready for a stop, and there was one, yes, just one, option – Dishman’s Corner Store. The three ladies running the store – we wondered if they were sisters, but they were too busy to ask – were friendly, and there was lots of interesting activity. Although it wasn’t a Dunkin, Andy did have a donut, which he was instructed (by one of the ladies) to heat in the microwave “for one second”, which he did.
Back on the bike, after pedaling through more hills and trees, we stopped at a corner store, that had been there since the 1930’s, and still had the classic tin roof/ceiling inside. We got to sit on bags of water-softener salt and talk with the guy who was running the stop about the busy stretch of road we were one.
After pedaling just a few miles, we had to stop when we saw this antique shop – Two Frogs on a Bike – with this great logo hanging out front. The owner has had the place for 26 years, and was very kind to help us snap these photos.
About 10 miles later, after crossing Highway 295 a couple of times, we arrived in Mechanicsville, which we pedaled through on our Sea to Shining Sea trip. Lunch at IHOP, dinner at Applebee’s, and another day of progress is complete!
After our overnight in Mechanicsville, VA, we got to repeat some of our Sea-to-Shining-Sea pedaling through Richmond, VA, including crossing the Mayo Bridge, where we snapped this picture. When we missed a turn, and wove our way through some neighborhoods, we found our way to Burger King (replacing Dunkin…). There were a couple of retirees there, chatting with the BK manager, and they asked us lots of questions about the trip, and one suggested that we make sure we go to the Fantasy Fest at Key West.
It turns out that Fantasy Fest is in October (every year since 1979) and that it makes Mardi Gras look tame and reserved… here’s a link to their site, in case you want to live the wildness - www.fantasyfest.com.
Back on our real route, returning to Highway 1, we pedaled through several areas with closed shopping centers, including malls that had been boarded-up and had plants growing into them. We gave ourselves a break, after a few tough days, and made this one shorter – although it was still head-windy – and arrived at our next stop, Petersburg, in time for a late lunch.
After some catch-up time yesterday afternoon and evening we knew we wanted an early start today, to try to keep out of the head-winds. On the bike about 7:30, we, once again, were pedaling into the wind, but at least it was not as strong as yesterday. Also, the temperature was cooler, the humidity much lower, and the sky beautifully blue. A great day for a ride in Southern Virginia!
We passed by many cool, historic, beautiful buildings, old stone churches, and Robert E. Lee’s headquarters. There were also many, many historical site markers for locations and people associated with the Civil War. The roads in Virginia are the newest, smoothest, and best maintained of any trip we’ve ridden. We pedaled by the tiniest US Post Office we think we’ve ever seen, in Meredithville, VA.
And then… disaster… our first mini-mart stop, no bathrooms. Our second mini-mart stop, bathrooms out of order. Our third mini-mart stop, bathrooms out of order. Definitely missing the pristine Dunkin locations… After retracing our journey to a previous mini-mart, buying something, so we were really “customers”, the check-out guy said we could “try” their bathroom, but it “might not work”. Welcome to rural Virginia. Luckily, it did… although janitorial service was, quite obviously, not “working”. We knew you’d love this part of the journal!
In the mini-mart did have service, we saw something we’ve never seen before – hot, boiled peanuts – yep, really. We didn’t purchase any today, but might…someday.
For the rest of today’s miles, we were back on beautiful Virginia parkways – divided lanes, with trees in the middle, two lanes on each side, and more beautiful trees, which helped protect us from the head-wind, and beautiful flowers in bloom – like these daisies. We also pedaled by some large sections of clear-cuts, and were passed by numerous trucks transporting the logs.
After many rolling hills, we took a side-road – Country Club Road – which, you guessed it, took us by a lovely, very well-maintained, golf course. After averaging 15 miles per hour, we arrived at our new home, had lunch at Applebee’s, and are getting ready for the last two pedal days!
We woke-up in South Hill, VA, had our standard buffet breakfast, and did a review of today’s weather. We started out on our beloved Highway 1, but it was combined with Highway 58, which made it not very fun – a little busy for us – so we Google-Mapped a different route on country roads. Much less traffic.
It was a beautiful morning, blue sky, no wind (maybe a bit of tail wind…?), comfortable temperature (no jackets required), which was enhanced by smooth roads. Then, after about eight miles of pure bliss, we reconnected with Highway 1, which had split from Highway 58, so it was back to its beloved status.
Then we crossed into our last state for Chapter 2, North Carolina – our 9th state, plus District of Columbia (“Taxation without representation” – on their license plates). Just across the state line, we saw a sign warning of road construction for the next 8 miles, ugh. However, it turned out that the construction had been wrapped-up and they were removing signs. We were treated to a brand-new road surface, the best ever, with a perfect shoulder, and no sections with frost-heaves, which we endured yesterday.
Given the wonderful situation, and storms and potential tornados forecast for tomorrow, we decided to investigate options to get us to Durham today. Yep, 40+ more miles, but perhaps worth the challenge. At the BP stop, we talked with several locals, using the strategy to ask each one the same question, and see how similar the answers were. With the roads becoming less hilly, the wind calming down, lower traffic, and the team feeling confident – with the finish line in sight, we decided to go for it.
Our next stop was Henderson, our originally-planned destination for today, where we dined at Burger King (once again, no veggie burgers…but the nice staff did make scrambled eggs and pancakes for Kim, even though the breakfast time had ended). Back on the road, we navigated our way through Henderson, and stopped at, yet another, mini-mart in Oxford. We talked with a local about Old State Highway 75, received his endorsement, and pedaled on. It turned out to be another pristine, low traffic, beautiful scenery road which took us all the way to Durham.
After arriving in Durham, we headed to Duke our “official” finish line, and that’s when the rain started. Not just a sprinkle, but actual rain. We pulled off the road, hid under a tree, and put on our silver rain ponchos, for the first time, rather than unpack all the rain gear from the panniers. Kinda goofy, but they kept us a bit drier.
As we arrived at Duke Chapel, the rain stopped and we recruited our first photographer of the day. Then we navigated our way through campus – carrying the bike up a few sets of steps – from the Duke Chapel to the Duke Cathedral: Cameron Indoor Stadium. We recruited a student to snap this photo. Then, as we pedaled along the side of the building, we noticed a bike rack, and a very, very slightly opened door. It turned out to be deliberately propped open with a tiny doorstop. So, we knew that we should lock the bike to the rack and head in. And then…. we were on the court, and Kim went to the center D for this picture. Awesome!
Back outside, we recruited yet another person to take our picture at the Krzyzewskiville sign. Then we pedaled to the bike shop – Durham Cycles – dropped off the bike for its maintenance and storage, and took a taxi to our hotel. Wow, no bike to ride. And, Chapter 2 is complete!