May 27-31

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 same direction.

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.