Today’s mileage: 36.7
Total mileage: 223.4
I woke up to the sound of a car driving by my tent. If that’s not enough to motivate you to get up and moving, then I don’t know what to tell you.
When you’re stealth camping, the last thing you want is for someone to discover you. We got up, packed up all of our stuff, and hit the road.
Not for long.
3 miles into our morning, we had to stop due to the insane amount of traffic. We were just outside of Charlottesville, VA, which is a pretty large city. The county road that we were biking on must have been the only road into the city, because I’m pretty sure everyone working in the city passed us on the way to work.
Car after car, truck after truck. And then you hear the sound…
PSSSSHHHHTT! WAAAAAWGH! (That’s the sound of a dump truck coming up behind you).
There’s no shoulder to get off on. The road is winding up and up and up. There’s car after car in both directions. It’s a nightmare.
We had to stop. Getting our miles in this morning wasn’t worth risking getting hit.
We hung out at this place for an hour watching cars, trucks, school buses, and dump trucks go by. When it cleared off, we went for it…although it was still busier than we were comfortable with.
It started to rain, so we stopped at a little park area to put on our rain jackets. A man started talking to us about our trip, so we told him all about it. He told us, “A lot of people dream of doing a trip like that…but you guys are DOING it.”
When I first decided to do this trip, I read a man’s blog post about how if you sit around and wait until the perfect time, you’ll never get it done…because the time is never perfect. You can’t possibly fully prepare for a trip like this…so you try your best to prepare and then hop on the saddle and just go for it.
Biking through Charlottesville was like biking through downtown Nashville, except with steep hills. It was kind of fun biking through the city, but you have to keep an extra close watch on traffic and your navigation.
As we were stopped at a light, a man on the corner saw us and started asking us questions about what we were doing. When we told him where we were going, he couldn’t believe it. He started shouting out to people walking by, “They’re going to OREGON! These two ladies–OREGON!!!” His voice echoed and bounced off the tall buildings. He was stopping random people who were walking by and telling them about our trip. After the light turned green, we took off and could still hear him shouting! 😆
When we made it through the city, we stopped at a 7-Eleven; we were already hungry.
Nothing like living off of gas station food. 😂💁🏼♀️
It was so nice to get out of the city. As we were climbing a hill, I looked up and saw…..
I’m telling you, every time I am struggling, I see something cool like an owl, a turtle, or a sign with my name on it!
Or a beautiful view.
Virginia keeps getting prettier and prettier. You just have to work a little harder to see the pretty parts.
Growing up, my parents always took me on long hikes, especially out west in the Tetons and Yellowstone. When I was about 9 years old, I remember hiking about a 20 mile round trip hike to see Lake Solitude: a beautiful lake nestled high up in the mountains, milky blue from the glacial flour floating in the water. I would be so tired on those long hikes. Sometimes I would even be mad…or pretend to be mad. But, my parents would tell me that the only people who get to see these amazing places are the people who put in the effort.
So, you want to see amazing things and beautiful views…you’ve got to work for it. And sometimes you have to work hard for it. Sometimes you’ve got to pedal uphill all day long in a monsoon. Smile required.
We met some pretty cool people today. The guy shouting to all of Charlottesville that we were going to Oregon. The nice man at the park who talked about following your dreams. There was a man who saw me eating a doughnut and a chicken biscuit while sitting on the sidewalk. He told me I deserved it after my ride today. I wanted to tell him my ride wasn’t even close to being over. 😂
We also met a woman named Sally who was SO nice. She sat on the front porch of a convenient store and talked to us about the Blue Ridge Parkway. She is from the area and has plenty of experience riding this type of terrain. She told us how beautiful it was on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it got us really excited about it. She helped me study my maps and told me what to expect and what towns were coming up.
We also met a woman on a road bike who rode a ways with us and talked to us about our trip and gave us a heads up about the towns coming up. She was super nice as well and I really wanted to trade my 70 lb load for her lightweight road bike.
As the day went on, it rained more and more. We were climbing up super long, super steep hills. It. Felt. Awesome.
Yes, my legs are tired and sore and stiff, and most of the time we were climbing at literally 2 mph, but there’s just something about climbing up the Appalachian Mountains with a 30 lb bike and a 40 lb load. Add some heavy downpours and you feel like a super-human biker.
As we slowly rolled into Afton (and I mean slowly), we saw it……the Cookie Lady’s House.
The Cookie Lady is famous to TransAm bikers. In 1983, she opened up her house to bikers rolling through Afton. She made them cookies and gave bikers a place to stay. She did this year round until 2012, which was the year she passed away. In her will, she wanted her house to stay open for bikers so they would have a place to stay on their trip. Ever since 1983, the walls have been filling up with memorabilia from bikers all over the world. It’s amazing to be a part of it.
As you can see, the Cookie Lady’s spirit is definitely living on.
The rain is still coming down outside as I type this. I am so thankful we are not out camping in this. We are hoping the rain lets up by the morning, as tomorrow is another tough day of climbing the Appalachians and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.