Today’s mileage: 52.7
Total mileage: 432
I fought for every pedal today. Well, most of them. We made good time this morning, but we slowed down throughout the day, as we are gaining elevation again. More Virginia hills and a steady headwind really chiseled away at us throughout the day.
We are still in the Virginia countryside, and everything is starting to look the same. I know that the landscape will be changing again soon. We are pretty close to KY.
Occasionally we will pass churches with signs saying, “cyclists welcome”. I always love those signs. They are so thoughtful. Finding a place to stealth camp can be a struggle.
Around noon, something super exciting happened!!! We saw another bike tourist! I felt like I was seeing a unicorn!! Everybody, meet Matthew:
Matthew was at the bottom of a hill and wasn’t sure which way to go, as there wasn’t a route 76 sign posted, which was odd because the roads thus far have been really well marked with the bike route signs.
Matthew is from England, and is riding west to east, and is about to complete his cross country tour! He started in San Francisco. I asked him if he had done a lot of bike touring. His skin was leathery and tan from being in the sun for so long.
In a thick British accent, he said he calls himself a “bike expeditionist”. He explained that after he gets to Yorktown, he is flying back to Europe and is going to ride his bike to Spain to watch the running of the bulls. THEN, he is coming back to the U.S. to ride the Astoria to Pueblo section of the TransAm. He was nice and encouraging. We all took some selfies together and wished each other safe travels.
Just behind him was his friend Manson. Matthew and Manson met on their solo bike tours, and have been riding together since Kansas. They ride at their own pace in the day, and then meet up in the same towns at night. Manson is from D.C. He actually started his trip in Portland and rode to Kansas last year, but I think he had a wreck and broke his arm and collar bone so he had to take some time to heal. So, he started in Kansas about 4 weeks ago and is also about to end his tour!
After meeting Matthew and Manson, Mash and I stopped to get some lunch at a gas station. We got a ton of attention at this particular gas station. All kinds of people were talking to us and asking questions. We had parents telling their children about our trip and showing them on a map where we were going. We had some hilarious women lose it when we told them about what we were doing. They asked to get pictures with us and wished us good luck.
There was a man who pulled up on a motorcycle, who had us laughing the minute he pulled up. He then told us how he had just moved to Virginia from Oregon and told us he had lost both of his legs as he patted his knees through his jeans. He asked how old we were, and I told him I was 28. He told me he had gone on a small bike tour when he was younger and how shortly after his tour he lost his legs while serving in the military. He was 28.
I thought of him for the rest of the day. My legs have been so fatigued the past couple of days, and it has been a struggle. Today, when my legs were hurting, I thought of that man and it helped me keep pushing on.
So many good things happened today, but it was a hard day for me. Although the hills are up and down, our elevation is trending upward again. We’ve had some tough hills today, and we have had some long, easier hills today. But, when your legs are this tired, they all feel the same. Add a constant headwind in the mix, and it makes things so much harder. I spent about an hour fighting back tears while I was riding. I was tired, frustrated about going 3 mph up some of these hills, and just being so done with Virginia.
But, this is just a part of it. You have good days, you have bad days, and some days are a mixture of both! When you have a bad day, just know that you gave it your all and look forward to better days ahead!
Or….take a long-overdue rest day!