Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 3 ending, day 4 and 5

Before I go into day 4 and 5 I want to close out day 3. We had left Mechanicsville and rode the last ten miles worrying about the black clouds in front of us. We pulled into an RV site just south of Ashland with seconds to go before the storm started and dumped heavy rain for an hour. We were forced to eat ice cream in the office watching the Weather channel with an 18 year old (half dead cat) called Charlie. Excellent hosts, these American camper types. This day wound up being our longest and hottest so both Norah and I were pretty beat and I turned in quite early.

We started day 4 early again with clear skies. This day was our first taste of riding on quieter back roads less populated with cars. The previous days have taken us on pretty fast roads, sometimes two lane highways at points. We rode onto a small hamlet called Bumpass after 33 miles. The only food available was fried chicken and burgers which we ate in the searing sun (88 degrees). Took an hour break before leaving for last 15.5 mile section to Mineral, an old mining town. Excellent scenery through a man made lake Anna and then arriving around 2.30 to pitch tents behind the volunteer fire brigade and to go off exploring this two street town (was tempted by the massage but declined). This was a great days riding and the best so far. Oh yes and we almost ran over a really mean looking turtle (so we kicked it off the road for its own good) and there are these little locust type insects that keep flying into my face.

The night was a disaster though as freight trains ran 100 yards away from the tent. One every 3 hours in the night would go through blowing its fog horn. Mixed with the high humidity equals a frankly crap nights sleep.

Day 5 started with rain that broke the humidity. I'm prepared with my raincoat and some stupid looking shoe covers so it was actually nice to have a break from the risk of sunstroke. Today continued going along the back roads, past more wheat and corn fields and horse paddocks that we saw the previous days. We had one dog incident today where a dog chased after Norah for a bit. I forgot to mention a couple of dogs came after me on day 3. People seem to leave their dogs free to roam and chase anything on the road!

Total distance for today was around 45 miles. The valleys today were longer leading to some really fast descents (30-35mph) but there were and equal amount of thigh sapping/heavy grunting power climbs too. Very enjoyable but I am under no illusion how hard the gradients will be when we hit the Appalachians properly in a couple of days. Today ends well in one of Norah's friends houses in Charlottesville so I get a warm shower and a bed to make up for last night (and help digest more southern BBQ pork).