Sunday, May 4, 2014
First day riding, 5/4/14Today was so nice, it verged on being cliche.
This was the first day riding with the tour, although things officially kicked off last night with a group introduction and dinner. Its a nice group, and on first pass everyone seems friendly, amenable and all have a good sense of humor.
But more on them later, as I get to know them better over the next few days and weeks.
Normally I like to sleep in, hit snooze and ask for 5 more minutes. But when I woke up this morning I was up and ready to go! Eight months of waiting was over, and all the preperation culminated with today's ride.
The group started out at a hotel in Wiliamsburg, Va. We grouped up, pumped our tires, did a little prep, and then started riding... East! Wait, what!?
Yeah, although it was a little counterproductive, the point was to start off by dipping our back wheel in the Atlantic and riding coast to coast. In this case, the Chesapeake Bay was a proxy for the Atlantic, but I'm not going to split hairs.
We rode as a group, and the pace was relatively slow, but it was a good 'getting started' pace. The ride to the water was only about 13 miles, an easy ride if there ever was one. We went through a national park in Yorktown, along a beautiful treelined road with gentle rolling hills. The weather was a hint cool in the morning, with clear blue skies and strong sun beating down.
At first as I was riding along, I was focused on my bike, the road, the other riders, and just what I was doing. Then, as I passed another rider (Randy) he said "Beautiful, isn't it?" at which point I finally got out of my own head and looked around. Stopped taking the surroundings for granted and started appreciating the trees, the bright green all around me, the wind and sun on my face. As we rode on, the bay opened up in front of us and we pedaled along beside the water for about half an hour. It was picturesque.
We arrived as a group in Yorktown, a beautiful waterside town known for its civil war history. We made our way down to the water and trudged our (very heavy) bikes through the sand, down to the water's edge and dipped our tires.
This is what I consider the official start, from here, it's all west, West, WEST!
And it really was official, there was even a sign by the water marking the formal start of the TransAmerican bike route (est, 1976).
But first, we took a break at the Yorktown shore to eat our lunch and enjoy the gorgeous day.
Seriously, the day and the setting were so nice that it was like a bad cliche from a movie. The weather was perfect. There was always a fear in the back of my mind that it would be raining the first day, or that winter wouldn't give up it's last grip, or maybe just be gray and dreary... but all the fear was for naught because... well the pictures really speak for themselves...
Besides the nice weather, there was a craft fair in the park, a guy on single acoustic guitar playing folk music, girls in bikinis on the beach and guys throwing a football. I even laid down in the grass under a cliche tree and closed my eyes for a few minutes!
It won't all be this nice, but if ever there was a perfect start to an awesome adventure, this was it.
Following lunch, the group left at their leisure to head back to the hotel (so, net zero mileage for the day, but it's a start!)
Because of that, today didn't really feel like the start of the ride, but even so it was still a great way to kick things off. This was meant to be a 'shakedown' day. People had come in from all over the country, and many shipped thier bikes. So people had to make sure their bikes were in proper working order, that everyone was comfortable, and we were also riding fully loaded, some for the first time. (This was my first ride, really and truely fully loaded, and holy crapy my bike is heavy.) It was also a way to see how the group behaved together, get a sense for what kind of riding we'll be doing and just put a few miles under our wheels to get used to being on the bike before we head out tomorrow. Even so, tomorrow is going to feel to me like the real start of the tour; we'll head west, put miles behind us, and we'll be camping for the night.
But tonight I'll enjoy a nice bed, in the morning I'll take a hot shower, eat a crappy hotel 'continental' breakfast, and then, westward ho young man.
Thanks for reading, and I'm looking forward to lots of great posts and interaction with all of you for the next several months and many miles.