Sunday, June 10, 2012

Virginia Hospitality

Now that I am over 800 miles into my current tour, that makes it my longest yet.  The past few days I have been travelling through southern Virginia and there has been a marked change.  As soon as I turned onto the "76 Route" (the bicycle route I am following was first done in the bicentennial), many of the folks that I run into are enthusiastic about what I am doing.  The small businesses along the road openly welcome sweaty, spandex clad cyclists.  Also, I have run into several long distance cyclists travelling both east and west.

And then there is the hospitality.  I think that only the folks who have either hiked the Appalachian Trail or done some long distance cycling can appreciate the level of hospitality that complete strangers and communities show.  I had heard about acts of kindness along the route I was taking, but it still took me by surprise.  One night I slept behind a fire station in Mineral which had been hosting cyclists for over 35 years.  The owner of Gertie's Country Store in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Parkway told me when I first showed up to camp behind the store and to take a cold drink with me and pay up later.  Another night, I found myself camping in the town park of Troutville after taking a shower and doing laundry at the fire station.  Even tonight, the owner of the older motel that I'm staying at offered me a discount for riding my bicycle without me even mentioning it.  When I thanked a woman in Troutville, she said that she was just "showing Virginia hospitality".

Another example of human generosity is the site  This site is a community of cyclists who offer a place to stay for the night.  Sometimes this is a yard to camp on.  It can also be a bed, shower, hot meal and beyond.  I never had the opportunity to use the site until now.  I spent an evening in Charlottesville with Stephen who I contacted through warmshowers.  He was a great host who let me sleep on a spare futon and take a shower, which was just the ticket for me.  Since he was also a rock climber, we had a spirited discussion about combining climbing and long distance cycling.  I would encourage anyone who thinks they want to bicycle tour in the future or just want to meet some interesting people to set up an account on warmshowers.

Stop heading south.  Start heading west.
Requisite picture of Bumpass, VA.  Apparently it's pronounced "bum-pass" but we all know better.
The new fire engine in the background is worth more than $640k.  Better not scratch it  when I leave...
Unlike it's oft seen cousin, the lawn ball, the elusive lawn egg is rarely photographed in the wild.
It ain't the sheep I'm worried about.  Today a dog broke it's chain and chased me down the road trying to bite me.  The sheep just make funny faces.
Stu and Manny from NJ having technical difficulties with a bike trailer in Charlottesville.
They had lost a cotter pin for the axle and wrapped a bunch of  wire around the axle instead.  On the ground you can see two replacement pins I helped fashion out of a bicycle spoke for them.
First sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains!
A visit to Chiles' Peach Orchard netted these peaches and peach cider donuts.  Vital energy supplements for biking up mountains.
Getting up to the Parkway was the hard part.  Really steep climb.  Riding along the Parkway was easy.  Long but gentle climbs.  I climbed over 6,000 feet that day.  At least that's what someone told me.
30 miles of uninterrupted bliss.  Except for one construction zone where a motorcyclist yelled at me to "pick up the pace".  Yeah, I'll get right on that, sir.
Descending off of the Parkway had me worried about whether my brakes would explode first or my hands would cramp  up from holding on too hard.
I found this billboard positioning to be really funny at the time.  I don't know why.
And indeed we were.
I neither looked nor felt very executive when checking in.  But then I took a scalding hot shower of fire hose  velocity and felt positively regal.


  1. You didn't know I had an orchard down there??

  2. Tom, you are helping revive wonderful memories from 35 years ago! Continue to take time to talk to the locals, take lots of pictures, check out the local eatery. Keep these memories in focus when it is pouring rain, the wind is howling in your face, and you are looking at 8,000 ft of climbing for the day. I was thinking about you as I rode 55 miles with several friends today, wishing I could make the miles count towards a cross country trip! Blessings. Mike

  3. Keep the sheep pictures coming.

  4. I am *so* excited that you're going after this goal and blogging about it. I really want to hike the AT someday but until then I can just live vicariously through you. I read every post the moment it hits my inbox. Keep pedaling (and uploading pics!). Onward!

    For some reason this won't let me post as a wordpress user, so allow me to note that I'm currently no longer housed at blogger and my new site can be found at ;)