Four: Twenty-Four Teeth of Torpor (Charlottesville to Afton)
1:50 p.m. Mark it. The first time I called my little chainring up for duty (46-36-24; insert your own Sir Mix-A-Lot joke here) halfway up Afton mountain and realized among the switchbacks that I’m no longer in the foothills.
Keith’s 1983 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe (three on the tree, natch) was this morning’s wake-up call. He came down with a breakfast waffle and we talked a bit more before driving me back to UVa. and the TransAm. I wouldn’t have minded the bike ride, but enjoyed Keith’s commentary on the area, especially where he pointed out the other end of the road I hunted vainly yesterday. In Charlottesville, I spent a little more time on the university’s grounds, and visited Edgar Allan Poe’s room — during the semester he was enrolled.
Then, off for second breakfast before my second mile at Bodo’s Bagels, a local institution. I clearly wasn’t in a hurry this morning, and left town around 10 a.m., Sunday traffic and fewer USBR 76 signs meant I had to keep a close eye on my maps to stay on track. I also needed to find something for dinner tonight — Hope Wood, the owner of the Cookie Lady house, told me there’s not much in Afton. White Hall hosts a small store where I stopped for a drink and talked to the fellow behind the counter a bit. He recommended heading into Crozet, a little off route, for groceries. Provisioned, I hopped back on 788 toward the mountains. It’s too early for peaches at Chile’s Orchard, but pick-your-own berries are in full swing.
ACA maps are bidirectional: I’m following the westbound instructions, but couldn’t help but notice the eastbound notes counseled caution on the stretch I was about to enter, warning of a two-mile, steep and twisty downhill. Not to disappoint, the incline (for me, a WB’r) includes a nearly 15-percent grade for a 1/2 mile among other vertical bits. I stopped at an abandoned post office to catch my breath.
Thankfully, tonight’s halt was just a few hundred feet farther. The legendary Cookie Lady house, half shelter, half museum, has offered succor to cyclists since 1976’s Bikecentennial. June Curry (a/k/a the Cookie Lady) passed away in 2012, but the aforementioned owner, Hope Wood, is keeping it open. The house is packed with 40 years’ of cycling memorabilia. Read more about June here.
Today was just 30 miles, but I’m glad to rest my legs for tomorrow’s climbing and take care of a few minor bike adjustments. No tent tonight — I’m couch bound. Sharing the house with me are three college students from Chicago. Tomorrow, we climb.