Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Original Tail Angel: The Cookie Lady

TROUTVILLE, VA--Two days ago, climbing up the Blue Ridge Mountains, at the very top of a very steep hill, we came upon the house of June Curry...The Cookie Lady.

Her hospitality to Transam bikers started the whole 'Trail Angel' phenomenon. Well, she is in ill health and no longer passes out cookies to the bike travelers as she has done since 1976. She no longer has lodging for weary cyclists either.

But the sign is still there. And we were certainly ready for a break when we reached her hilltop house in Afton, Virginia. Jerry and Lynne were riding with us. We stopped for a while and wished we could have met this legend of the trail.

Her bike house is full of 30 years of memorabilia from the trail. We rested outside and thought about her 30 years of greeting people just like us. However, the afternoon was waning and we had to ride on. Good luck...June Curry. From all of us.

Jerry and Lynn riding down the Blue Ridge Mountains

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Four More Nights in Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA--Mike and I are sittin in the Hampton Inn tonight. And I am trying to work fast on this laptop because of a mistake I made several days ago. I forgot the power supply cord for my MacBook in the motel room in Williamsburg. Fortunately, I had their phone number and they are going to send it to MaryAnn back in ABQ. She'll have to figure out how to get it to me.

Meanwhile I am lugging the machine around and using it sparingly. I have 70% power left as of right now.

The first night we got to the Glendale Methodist Church, 41 miles or so from Williamsburg. Our information said they were willing to put up cyclists. What wonderful people.

Mike and I slept in the Sunday School building along with a couple on a tandem. Katie and Chris were from Milwaukee. She used to be an editor for the Milwaukee Journal. Anyway, they were planning on doing 80 miles a we won't be seeing much of them!

The next night was in a private campground near Ashland, Americamp. It had an airport on one side, a sawmill on another, and the freeway on a third. Not only that, it was pretty difficult to find. Nevertheless, Mike and I did strike up an acquaintance with a ten-year-old who hung around most of the day. Finally we asked, "Why aren't you in school?" The answer was in one word, "Homeschooled."

There was nobody around during the day to even watch out for him. He lived in a 5th-wheel with 4 or 5 men who were all gone working until suppertime.

The next night we rolled into Mineral after a pretty hard day in the saddle. I had got us lost a couple of times following 3-digit route numbers until I couldn't even remember my own phone number.

We rode up to the Mineral Volunteer Fire Dept. and said, "We hear you have a place for cyclists who need a place to put up a tent." One of the chiefs, Delbert, said,
"Not tonight, we've got a carnival all set up on the lawn. You'll have to sleep in the firehouse." So we did. Showers. TV. Internet. Really fine people. We went across the street and had a truly excellent pulled pork sandwich for supper.

We were out of there by about 7:30 as we have been every morning so far. Coming out of Mineral we took a shorter route than the Adventure Cycling map shows. It had a LOT of traffic, but it cut out 15 miles. The Hampton Inn has a shuttle service and we took it out to Montecello this afternoon and toured the building and grounds. We called and the driver, Renee, picked us up and drove us downtown to a central street to eat. The street had be turned into a pedestrian mall. It was fabulous. We picked out a restaurant with tables in the shade and sat down for a great meal.

Then who showed up walking down the street but Jerry and Lynne, the couple I had photographed in Yorktown. They were doing fine except for Lynne's allergies. Anyway, we had a fine time sharing road stories and left hoping to see each other again down the road.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Trail Angel

Williamsburg to Glendale, VA

We started out around 7:30 AM from the Super 8. Jon had been there so long the staff cried. I gave Linda my bag that I used to bring miscellaneous items on the plane. She said she really needed a bag just like that. As we scooted out of town the mist was rising of of the grass and gave us a strange sensation of being surrounded by battles and ghosts of regiments who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Jon keeps up with the history of the area and we stop frequently to honor the monuments to those who were killed on both sides.

Jon got his first flat tire. The only time I got wild and crazy and passed him he got a flat. I am waiting at the convenient store about a mile past him when a young rider from the AC group stopped and told me of Jon's dificulty. I figured by the time I got back to Jon he would be ready for an ice-cream. I managed to get back before it turned out to be an ice-cream float. He had fixed his flat on the rear tire and was ready for the treat. It wasn't long before we were safe at the Glendale Methodist Church. The caretaker graciously allowed us to use the building behind there church to crash in. Not a bad crash it even had refrigerated air conditioning. We shared the place with Katie and Chris who were riding across American on a Tandem.
I would like to thank Gail again for guiding us through the bike path and pointing out the special sites. Jon and I have always met special people in our travels and Gail is certainly in the top ten "Trail Angels"

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Real Day #1

WILLIAMSBURG, VA--Today we rode over to Yorktown to dip our wheels ceremoniously in the York River. We stopped and talked with a member of Blackbeard's Crew for a while...primarily discussing the world flint shortage. With that out of the way we ate breakfast at the Duke of York. A loaded cyclist stopped there while we were eating. He said he was with the Adventure Cycling Transamerica group. They are leaving today also for Williamsburg.

I am sure we will encounter him again. We rode by the rest of the AC group near the Victory Center...about half a dozen of them. Maybe we won't see them again. Maybe they'll get a few days ahead of us and we'll never really meet up.

I actually rode to Yorktown last Tuesday. I met Jerry and Lynne Lisenby on Main St. They were staying at the Grace Episcopal bike hostel in Yorktown and were riding down to dip their wheels. They asked if I would take their pictures. Of course I said "yes." They turned out to be from Peoria, Illinois.

Jerry is one of America's biggest losers...from the TV show, that is. He has lost somewhere around 130 pounds. He is pretty famous. His wife Lynne is in charge of mental health services at the Peoria Children's Home. They are riding to raise money for the Home.

Later in the day I ran into Todd Morrison from Portland, Oregon. He is riding from the D.C. area up to Pittsburg on a series of canal and rail trails. I believe he said it was a 400 mile trip and almost all of it is on dedicated bike paths.

The first thing he did when we met was to enter my cell number in his phone. We both wandered around for a good part of the afternoon in different directions. Then he called me up and gave me a ride back to Williamsburg in his rented van. Nice.

Mike and I didn't have that option. But it was such a beautiful ride on the Colonial Parkway that the miles flew by.

Tomorrow: Glendale, 50 miles, camping at a church.

Today's Handlebar Statistics
Distance: 32 miles
Ride Time: 3 hours
Avg. Speed: 11 mph
Max. Speed: 25 mph
Total Dist: 32 miles
Elev. Gain: 1011 ft. (According to Mike's GPS)

Willamsburg to Yorktown

Friday, May 2, 2008

Williamsburg Cab Ride

Friday, May 2nd
We always start out very precise. You will note by the 10th or 15th day notation of the day and date will be less than consistent. Anyway, I have arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia. Let me tell you the hour long cab ride was worth the experience. The cabby was from Nigeria and half the time he was on the phone with his friends or family speaking something incomprehensible to this westerner's ear. Even though he assured me that English was the national language in Nigeria. Non the less I pestered him relentlessly in the journalistic manner that many I meet have learned to detest. I mentioned that I would like to bike in Africa and his response was that I would be Lion Bait. He emphasized that it wasn't anything personal, that any westerner is considered less than desirable company but good revenue for the local bandits and robbers. He had lived in the States for greater than 6 years and had a family that were completely westernized. Due to the wild agility of his driving habits, I believe he must have had some sort of standing appointment that he needed to be at. He seemed to be apologizing to someone on the phone for being late. Needless to say he was becoming more and more agitated that we were not finding the bicycle shop sooner rather than later. He was just as happy to let me out of the cab as I was to see "Bikes Unlimited" As quickly as I paid him he was off. Spinning a U turn almost quick enough to catch me crossing the street. All kidding aside he was very friendly and tried patiently to answer the repetitive bombardment of questions that I shot at him.
Once at the bike shop I assembled and hooked up my trailer Barry had done a excellent job of reassembling my bike and tuning it up. I rode from Scotland Road down Richmond Ave to the Supper 8 where Jon was waiting. I had called him from the bike shop and he met me in the parking lot. We were both very glad to see each other. The hotel was across from a local shopping center where we grabbed dinner at Sal's Italian restaurant, picked up some necessary hardware items and visited the bookstore. As we walked back to our hotel the sidewalk was becoming crowed with local visitors who were out for a stroll on this Friday evening.

Mike Shows Up in Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, VA--Mike Moye, intrepid as ever, rode up Richmond Ave. this afternoon straight to the Super 8 Motel where we are staying. We worked on our bikes for a while...made some equipment adjustments and repacked a few items. He brought my MacBook with him.

I still can't get all the software working on it. I used to have IPhoto and now can't find it. I'll try to use Preview and Image Capture to bring up the visual highlights until I figure things out more fully.

Tomorrow Mike and I ride to Yorktown to dip our wheels in the York River to officially start the beginning of the Transamerica ride. We will then return to Williamsburg, spending the night in our motel room before heading west through Jamestown, Charles City, and Glendale. There is supposed to be an Adventure Cycling group starting out tomorrow as well.

Tonight we went out to eat at Sal's across the street. That makes 3 times in 5 days I have eaten supper there. Baked Ziti, Eggplant Relatoni(?), and Chicken Victor. Damned good! Of course, eating with Mike, the spumoni was the highlight of the meal.