April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/15 - Lexington (22 miles, 247.5 total)
it would've been 50 mi to lexington if we'd gone by the schedule, but when we got up this morning a thick blanket of fog had wrapped itself over the top of afton mountain. we had a good breakfast in the motel breezeway & also put together our sandwiches for lunch; we had gourmet makings to choose from--roasted red peppers, sprouts, honey mustard, sliced red onions, provolone cheese, thin slices of turkey, & really good wheat bread. peanut butter & jam were, as always, also available. plus the bins of gorp ingredients....& bananas, apples, & oranges. plus the basketful of energy & cereal bars. there's no excuse for being hungry on the road....depending on how much you want to carry on your bike. plus there are usually little stores along the way for folks wanting more variety.
after breakfast we went back to our rooms to wait 'n see what would happen with the weather. a light rain was falling, too. finally around 8:30, when gloria realized that it was completely unsafe to bike in fog that thick (& we knew that the park patrol would pull us off the roads if we tried), gloria called us together for a meeting & offered us 2 options: to be taken down off the mountain with our bikes & ride the last 20 miles into lexington, or ride in the van all the way to lexington with no biking for the day. 4 took the no-biking option. the biking-option folks loaded their bikes onto the van & the suburu & we took off along the blue ridge parkway. visibility was about 50 feet. sari, phyllis, anne, & i ended up in the suburu with jo driving; we were so happy that she is such a cautious driver!
you can see by the photo that there was nothing to look at at the overlook. that's me & phyllis beside the sign.
the 2nd photo shows how our bikes got down the mountain. from right are rose, sue in green, patti the chef in the baseball hat, darleene in green, i think judith, the back of joan hendricks in yellow, the back of marcia in red, then gerrie, & at left, the back of lee in orange.
at that point--there in the overlook parking lot--the van had to stop because the connection between the van & trailer was riding too low to the ground. both vehicles were so loaded that it was unsafe to take them down the mountain together, & they couldn't be unlatched without the van occupants getting out. so everyone piled out of the van while gloria, jo, & sue unlatched the trailer from the van. the van, suburu, bikers, & bikes then went down to the teensy town of vesuvius. (we didn't have to descend by bike on that treacherous downhill stretch that i mentioned yesterday--popularly called "danger hill.") from there the bikers took off on a lovely, lonesome road to lexington. there were some hills & some were pretty steep, but mostly it was a peaceful winding road along some rippling streams dotted with lots of fishermen in hip boots.
phyllis, sari, & i rode together from vesuvius. we've now joined the ranks of the lost....as we took a wrong turn coming into downtown lexington & rode east a couple of miles before realizing that we shoulda ridden west at the downtown intersection. as luck would have it, those 2 miles contained a major uphill & downhill. later we learned that marcia had taken the same wrong turn. of course these few extra miles don't get us anywhere close to the miles-lost champ, darleene, who's still the leader at 15.
we got to our motel--a very spiffy hampton inn--around 2:30. both VMI (virginia military institute) & washington & lee university are in lexington. it's a very nice town....lots of cute little college-town shops line the quaint downtown streets. as soon as we got our bikes & stuff into our room, sari & i walked back to the washington & lee campus. on our way i had hoped to find an opticians place that was open so they could straighten up my glasses frames; i sat on the glasses this morning after i'd made the mistake of laying them on my bed. but no luck, so i'll continue cattywhompus 'til i find an open eyeglass-fixit place somewhere down the road.
sari & i walked to the lee chapel on the campus. robt e lee is buried beneath it. it's a beautiful little chapel. the guests from a wedding party were streaming out of the chapel as we neared.
after waiting a bit for the wedding groups to clear out of the chapel, sari & i went in to look around, then went downstairs to the museum....a fascinating collection of art & memorabilia about robt e lee & his family. i hadn't realized that lee & geo washington were part of the same extended family....& that it wasn't until gerald ford's administration that lee was pardoned for his part in the civil war & allowed to regain U.S. citizenship (posthumously, of course).
a couple of young women came up to sari & me at the museum. they asked if we were some of the women bikers whom they had seen on the road coming into town & we said yes. one of the women, susan, was from england; she & her husband started biking from yorktown just before we had. the 2 of the them are traversing the transamerica trail self-contained; their only time limitation is that they have flight reservations from seattle on sept 30. the other woman, helen, had come upon the bikers a couple of days ago at an intersection in town & invited them to stay at her house, so the english couple is seeing the sights of lexington & environs before pedalling on west. helen & her husband biked the transamerica trail themselves a few years ago...from west to east. when you're sitting in iowa, biking the transamerica trail seems like a relatively rare thing to do....but when you're here, you realize just how popular it is. in fact, yesterday on our way up to afton we came upon a whole swarm of bikers from france.
with all the extra shuttling of bikers & bikes that patti the chef had to do today, we had to settle for supper at frank's pizza place just a short walk away. when we go to a restaurant for supper, gloria usually tells us ahead of time what our upper price limit should be, then she just picks up the bill for all of us afterwards. at frank's everything was so reasonable we could just go hog wild. we mused as we walked back to the motel after supper that we'll have at least 2 habits to break after the end of this bike trip: (1) eating everything in sight & (2) walking out of restaurants without paying.
tomorrow promises to be a bit warmer, but there may be some showers. we'll have more hills, but we're getting pretty good at those.
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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