Day 38: Afton, VA to Vesuvius, VA - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

May 20, 2011

Day 38: Afton, VA to Vesuvius, VA

I wake up late. I write, I eat some cookies, I talk with Jonathan and Austin before they head out. I drop off a package at the post office just down the hill. I walk back and forth through the Bike House, soaking up every last ounce of nostalgia I can. I don't want to leave. I know that once I wheel the bike outside and lock the two doors behind me that I'll never see this amazing place again.

Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

I put the keys and an envelope with a donation under the mat in front of June's door. I ring the bell but get no response, so I walk back down the old stone steps and get ready to leave, sad that I don't have the chance to say thank you. Then, just as I'm ready to start pedaling away, she appears on the porch that runs one level above the street. I flash a big smile and shout out a thank you, telling her I had an amazing time. She wishes me good luck and safe travels. As I wave and ride away, I look in my mirror and see her standing there, watching me go, until I turn the corner at the top of the hill and pedal out of sight.

Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

After a short push to the top of Afton Mountain I fly downhill into Waynesboro. I'm still high off the Bike House experience and smile even wider when I realize that I no longer have to ride back up the same way in a few hours to rejoin the Parkway. I burn the afternoon in town eating and writing and working.

I finally start riding for real around 3:00. The sky is overcast but clear enough that I can see the Blue Ridge Mountains off to my left. It feels strange to turn my head up after so many miles of looking down, and to ride through the same section of valley I stood so high above at the same time yesterday. It's also weird to be on real roads again. For 470 miles I had no directions to follow; I just had to go north and not south. The Parkway had no stop signs or traffic lights, didn't allow any commercial vehicles, and the speed limit never went above 45 miles per hour. Now I'm back with buses and dump trucks and people who aren't traveling on a leisurely drive through the country.

Heart 0 Comment 0

After battling the Blue Ridge, I can't call what I'm riding hills. They're just not flats that wind through quiet bits of country past small homes and a few churches. I travel long stretches where the road has no center line. Compared to the places I've been recently it's remarkable simply because of its unremarkableness.

Heart 0 Comment 0

By the time my legs warm up I'm almost done. I coast down a gentle descent along a river and then pedal less than a mile to Gertie's, a tiny store and restaurant and just about the only thing in the community of Vesuvius. It's a biker-friendly place that lets cyclists camp at no charge on the soft grass behind the building. I set up the tent, throw my gear inside, and then head over for dinner.

Heart 0 Comment 0

I walk inside and see handwriting everywhere. Almost every inch of wall, ceiling, shelf face, and support beam is covered with the names of people who passed through the place, bike riders and otherwise. I manage to squeeze a little bit about myself onto a strip of wood behind one of the two small tables next two the door. As I eat an amazing barbecue sandwich, the woman behind the kitchen counter tells me that I just missed the two California guys I met last night at the Bike House. They passed through an hour earlier but wanted to continue on to Lexington. We talk some shit about them, and about Southern Californians in general.

Heart 0 Comment 0
Looking up at the ceiling.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

I only have to walk a hundred feet back to the tent. Birds chirp and a cow moos loudly in the pasture of the farm across the street. Three hawks circle in the direction of the mountains and patches of clouds slide slowly through the sky. The sun soon tucks behind the hill, leaving behind a perfect evening with only the slightest hint of cold. I breathe deep, take it all in, and smile, my head filled only with great thoughts.

Today's ride: 31 miles (50 km)
Total: 1,916 miles (3,084 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0