One: Zero Mile (Yorktown to Glendale)
A note on mileage: I round to the nearest mile, and I’ve reset the trip meter, so my GAP/C&O mileage is not reflected. Add 360 miles if you’re curious about distance since I left Pittsburgh on May 27, 2014.
French toast’s my send-off breakfast bread of choice. Actually, it’s my breakfast bread of choice regardless of the situation. The perfect fuel for running around last minute and definitely not something I can cook on a Jetboil in camp, it holds a special place in my heart. I packed last night, so after breakfast the panniers went in the trunk, the bike on the roof and me in the front seat. Yorktown ended up being just under three hours away on the interstate, something I won’t travel on again till Wyoming when my Adventure Cycling maps take me on I-80 for about 15 miles between Sinclair and Walcott.
The TransAmerica Trail starts in Yorktown, Virginia, at Yorktown’s Victory Monument and heads across 10 states before finishing at the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, Oregon. But that’s a ways off. The Continental Congress authorized creation of the monument in October 1781 upon news of the British surrender, though construction wasn’t completed till 1884 (Begun in 1881. How’s that for government efficiency?). The monument’s 98′ tall, 14′ attributed to Lady Liberty II perched atop the pillar. The First Lady was severely disfigured by a lightening strike in 1956.
My Mom ran today’s shuttle service to the coast (thanks again!), and while we contended with a dark sky, the storm passed without incident. Phew. We said goodbye, and I took off for Glendale, stopping for a photo with my wheel in the York River. No, it’s not strictly the sea, but it’s salty, it’s tidal and pretty darn close. It’s a cross-country cycling tradition to dip your wheel in the water on either coast to bookend the trip. Say a little prayer for my bearings.
With an afternoon start and 60 miles to go, I pretty much just turned the cranks — not a whole lot of sightseeing. Along the Colonial Parkway I exchanged stiff, salt-tinged winds for quieter, sun-dappled shade. In Williamsburg the road passes through a tunnel that doesn’t allow bicycles, so I detoured through Colonial Williamsburg, which was really neat. Lots of families and school/summer groups wandering the period-correct streets. Conversely, cars aren’t permitted in the village, so I was the fastest thing on the road.
In addition to colonial and revolutionary history, the area saw considerable Civil War action — a parallel from my GAP/C&O trip. In fact, the church I’m staying in tonight served as a hospital during the war and there’s a battlefield cemetery just down the road.
Adventure Cycling maps tend to take you along scenic, low-traffic roads deliberately, often in a way that absolutely bamboozles the natives. You just have to give in and submit to the map. You’re usually on road, though, playing in traffic, which is why the Capital Trail, which parallels Route 5 was an unexpected, if incomplete, joy. Patchy in places — it sends you out to the road before welcoming you back with big, strong, paved arms a couple miles down the line, repeatedly. Not sure about the battered-woman approach to trail building — maybe access is still in negotiation or the state’s working on the less challenging bits first.
Regardless, it it was a nice break from the road, though traffic was light and nearly all of the drivers extremely courteous.
Other than a chocolate milk stop, I wasn’t off the bike other than the occasional stretch, but my maps list points of interest. While I didn’t visit, I found this one interesting:
Sherwood Forest Plantation: Historic 1780 home of 9th U.S. President John Tyler. The only home to be owned by two presidents, the other being 10th U.S. President William Henry Harrison.
— Adventure Cycling Map 149, Section 12
Remember that for your next bar trivia session.
I’m stopped tonight at Willis United Methodist Church in Glendale, right on route. The church has a bicycle ministry program that includes hosting bicycle tourists and exceptional hospitality (a place to sleep inside, kitchen access, a shower, wifi, A/C, etc.). It’s just me tonight, but Mark Rooks, the pastor, told me they’ve had more than 100 folks through already. I’m getting a late start! Westbound, the TransAm’s passable starting in early/mid May, so I have some catching up to do. But that can wait till tomorrow.
Remember the first 10 days are the hardest and then the percentages go in your favor. Safe travels…..Robert