Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Considering how busy the past few weeks have been and the
incrementally increasing pace as the departure date neared.
I was utterly amazed to be at ease this morning. Either I
accepted that I had done everything that I could possibly
do, or I actually had done everything I could possibly do.
Mom dropped me off at O’hare airport, gave me some words of
encouragement and a kind ticket attendant waived the extra
$80 fee for transporting a bike. I took that as a good omen.
Then, to toughen my moral fortitude, I read several chapters
of Points Unknown, a collection of short stories about
some of this centuries greatest adventurers and the hardships
they endured in achieving their goals (or just surviving).
I arrived late at Newport News, crammed my bike box and trailer
in the back of a cab and headed off to a Travelodge near the
airport. Together with ESPN Sportcenter in the background
and a couple of beers I assembled my bike only to look up
and realize it was 2 a.m. Bed time.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Let the biking begin. I wouldn't call the first 12 miles
from the airport to the starting point the most enjoyable,
i.e. narrow and heavily traveled. But they did pass through
some very beautiful and wooded terrain. Though I had traveled
through Virginia, I was surprised to find so much undeveloped
land so close to the coast. In addition, a sign indicated
that I was entering York County and had a date of 1654, it
certainly added something to the historical side of my journey.
The bicycling with trailer in tow took a little getting used
to. Though I've spent plenty of time on a bicycle, dragging
a 40-50 pound load was something new to me. I arrived at mile
zero of the TransAmerica Trail only to find two other cyclists,
James and Aaron preparing to embark on the same trail in the
Thursday, May 29, 2003
I broke camp today, very inefficiently. It took over an hour
and I can only hope I'll get quicker. On the road by 9 with
James and Aaron, destination unknown. Passed lots of battlefields
today, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, Richmond Battlefield and
several others. Smooth riding, mild hills & horrid weather.
Dealt with lots of rain up until Mechanicsville and which
time the rain was replaced by traffic. Since camping was not
an option, we splurged on a room. Sadly, I believe today was
the longest distance I've ever covered on a bicycle at any
one time (60 plus miles).
Friday, May 30, 2003
I found my sit bones today. Though every long-distance bicyclist
I every spoken with has always said to utilize this part of
the posterior. I never knew what they were and if I had ever
used them. This has helped to alleviate the pain but it still
feels as though I've been sitting on a cheese grater for the
past two days. James and Aaron have become my short-term riding
cohorts. We had a pleasant day of riding and encountered our
first hills of note. Arrived in Mineral (pop. 417), a quaint
little early mining town in the midst of a carnival to raise
money for the volunteer fire department. The townsfolk were
excessively friendly and the fire department actually offered
us lodging. We camped in their bunkhouse overlooking the fair
and directly above the mechanical bull named “Willy”. We all
humored ourselves with the repetitive nature of Willy’s operator/announcer
until we realized that was what we had to fall asleep to.
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Packed up, put on the bicycling attire and prepared to depart
until our friendly fire department switched on the Weather
Channel and indicated the severe thunderstorms all across
Virginia. All the excuse we needed to take a rest day and
enjoy one more day at the fair. The highlight of my day being
the package I sent home, not the contents but the weight:
10 pounds of stuff I no longer have to tow. Otherwise, it
was a relaxing day full of recuperation. That night, after
a couple of beers, James and I let the Oklahoman (Aaron) talk
us into drawing forks to ride the mechanical bull. James and
I were both relieved to not win the honor.