April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/14 - Afton (28 miles, 225.5 total)
patti beefed up the continental breakfast that the motel offered us by adding some eggs & oatmeal that we could cook up in the microwave in the motel's breakfast room. i managed to overnuke the oatmeal & ended up with a turntable swimming in hot milk & a styrofoam bowl shaped like something you'd pick up at an artisan's market. swabbed up that mess, only to spill milk across the floor of the breakfast room 15 minutes later when i was starting on my 2nd course--a bowl of total raisin bran. i've gotta stick to something a little less tricky than styrofoam cereal bowls.
what a cloudy, cool day. we left the motel in charlottesville around 9....some earlier, some later. we don't ever all ride in a clump. people have sort of found the groups whose riding style & speed fits them best. we were on the highly trafficked roads of charlottesville for only a short time before we turned off onto those lovely country roads that you saw in a picture recently. the 'up' part started almost immediately, with the incline & length of hills increasing as the day wore on. it was one of those days that's almost impossible to dress for: going downhill (not that it hardly ever happened today) or stopping, one was very cool, but going uphill could get downright sweaty.
judith is feeling pretty smug this afternoon. after stirring herself & us into a frenzy last evening over supper with concern about her ability to use her new purchase of yesterday--a camelback water reservoir--she found out today that she can drink & pedal at the same time.
(that's judith demonstrating her award-winning drinking style in the photo.) tomorrow she's thinking of branching out into pedalling, drinking, AND shifting. we'll have to keep an eye on her.
note in that photo the appealing bovines in the background. my maiden name is holsteen, so i have a particular affinity for those black-&-white cows....holsteins. my bike horn is a purple holstein.
we were all treated to a stop at the home of a transamerica trail institution this afternoon: the cookie lady of afton mountain. you'll see her with the "gas substitute" tandem bicycle in her living room in the photo.
she was quick to explain that the bike is actually 2 bikes put together. her father started this waystation for bikers in 1976---the same year that this transamerica trail was developed by bikecentennial in observance of our nation's 200th anniversary.
the cookie lady (aka june murray) has maintained it after his death & clearly loves every minute of her visits with bikers passing through afton. hhaarrrumph...passing through afton. after that climb,it's more like passing out in afton. every room of her little place & every wall of every room are completely covered with the postcards & other memorabilia that bikers send back after their visits with her. she said she usually doesn't open 'til april 20, but this year she has already had bikers from france & from belgium stop by. she lets them sleep overnight on her floor if they want to. in her tiny kitchen she had heated up some water so that we could make tea or hot chocolate to warm up. & she let us use her bathroom....truly the way to a biker's heart. after leaving afton we still had some uphills to ride to get up to the top of the mountain to our motel. the view from here is quite spectacular & would be even moreso on a clear day. we hope it clears off by tomorrow morning, because we understand that if the ceiling remains this low, the state patrol will pull us off the blue ridge parkway since we don't have lights. plus of course i would love a chance to get a good photo of the beautiful valleys waaaay below. now it's later & we've just been treated to another incomparable meal by patti the chef: salmon-&-goat cheese burritos topped with a black-bean relish, sided with refried beans & a fantastic salad made of sliced fresh tomatoes, olives, & sundried tomatoes reconstituted in olive oil. the salmon was big chunks of grilled salmon filet. we're working at convincing patti to do a cookbook--"a gourmet on wheels," i dunno. many of us would love to be able to try recreating some of these delectable dishes after the ride's over. we marvel at the fantastic meals that patti creates in her trailer galley while it's parked in these motel parking lots. at the map meeting tonight (we have one every night....unless we have it in the morning, as we did today), becky reviewed highlights of tomorrow's 50-mi ride. we'll spend about 26 mi on the blue ridge parkway. then there's one very steep, 3.5-mi downhill stretch leaving the parkway. i dislike steep downhills more than steep uphills; wouldn't it be pathetic to get to the end of this tour having walked only on downhills? with me, it could happen. some of you have asked how this web site operation works. i take pictures every day with my digital camera & download them at the end of the day onto my iBook. i put together an email message with my comments on the day's ride, then attach a couple of photos to the email message & send it all to my son mark, who lives in iowa city, ia.....IF i can get a connection from the place we stay overnight. sometimes i can't. he then posts it all to this web site. if you need/want to get in touch with mark about anything to do with the site, email him. Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....
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