AXC - The bike

AXC - The bike

Monday, May 5, 2014

Westward Ho!

Where we stopped and sat in the grass and ate lunch. This doesn't suck.

Westward to... the undiscovered country? Not quite. But I'm calling today  'day 1' of the ride. Yesterday was 'day zero' because we had net zero mileage gain. In fact, yesterday felt more like a regular 'group ride' that I do all the time, because we finished up where we started!
But today, we finally headed west, starting the trail on our way ultimately to Oregon. This is much more what I thought the riding would feel like. A reasonable 50 mile day that wasn't particularly hard, but couldn't be described as 'easy' either. This was the most mileage I've done in one ride on this bike, and by far the most I've done fully loaded! 
The ride felt really good, just getting out and pedaling for miles, enjoying the scenery and the sunshine. It was another beautiful day, starting off a little cool bet felt good in the sunshine.

There was a nice path that we began the day on, which was freshly paved and lined with scenic trees and fields.

It was too good to be true, and sure enough after about 8 or 9 miles the path ended. It's under construction, and whoever does this route next year is going to enjoy the hell out of that! In the meantime, the part we did get to ride was nice. There were sections with a raised wooden-slat bridge that passed over marshland, and other sections where the marsh was more like swamp. But all around me was lush green trees and planted fields. A very nice change of scenery from the cold and gray winter that seemed to go on forever. 

When the path finally ran out, we had to ride on the road. I fully expected to ride on the road at some point on this trip, although I thought maybe there would be a little bit of shoulder. This road was ever so slightly nerve wracking because there was no shoulder. Still, all the cars and trucks were very accommodating, and we were fairly visible as a group. 

Our group of 16 broke into smaller groups, and even those sort of ebbed and flowed throughout the day. We started off with about half, which splintered into 5 in my group, and then down to just 3. At some point we caught back up to a few more, only to break off again. It was a nice, fluid way to ride, without obligation to keep everyone together all the time, but still with some people to share the road with and help keep track of directions.

The TransAmerican bike route was established in 1976 and was called 'BikeCentenial.' It's now marked all the way across the country with these signs for Bike Route 76. These were helpful to spot throughout the day.

The second half of the group hung back a little longer at the start of the ride, and rode a bit slower overall, stopping longer to talk to locals and sit here or there. My group wasn't rushed by any means, but we didn't really lolly gag either. It was a good pace for me. Although 2 of the guys had broken off and went to a restaurant along the way, one got a cheese burger, and one got tacos for cinco de mayo. I would have liked either. I had a PB&J sandwich for second lunch. (insert sad trombone waaamp waaamp sound.)

Today's ride ended at the Willis Church, 15 miles outside of Richmond, Va. It's on the edge of a large historic civil war battlefield that is well marked and well maintained. There's a sense that the 'war of northern agression' is well documented and remembered in these parts. 

It was a surprise to me that we finished up at a church today. There, several volunteers made a tremendous dinner, that we hungrily scarfed down. There's a hot shower and they offered floor space for us to sleep. (I'm going to sleep in one of the daycare rooms. There's lots of space in the sanctuary, but I checked it out and it felt a little weird.)

Just as my group got to the church, it started to rain, light and first but then getting very heavy. My timing was perfect to finish up before the water came down, but I couldn't help but feel kinda bad for the riders still on the road. It was a cold rain. Still, there is a hot shower here, and a hot meal, and that makes a lot of things better.

Thanks to the crew at IBC who bought me the saddle cover, to keep my seat dry!!
This is the end of day one, and the beginning of many more. They won't all start on beautiful tree lined paths or end with a hot cooked meal at a warm, dry church. But that's the adventure, and that's what I'm looking forward to! Thanks for reading.

Bike selfie. Don't try this at home!

Chillin' on the swings after the 50 mile ride.


  1. Reading this reminds me of what a prolific writer you were in high school (and obviously still are to this day!). Safe travels, my friend.

  2. Sounds like a good day. Makes me anxious for an adventure!

  3. Reading this felt like reading you letters all those years ago. Looking forward to more.

  4. Makes me want to do it next year. Looking forward to more pictures and your writing.