April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/16 - Troutville (50 miles 308 total)
i awoke early this morning, as usual, so decided to quietly exit our room (hope i didn't wake up my 2 roommates) & went out in the early, dark, foggy morning to the beautiful restored historic home that the hampton inn uses as its reception/breakfast room area. one of the rooms there has comfy chairs & a cd player playing classical music. it was a wonderfully relaxing way to start the day....sitting in a comfy chair with my ibook on my lap answering email whilst listening to classical music. no one was around.
around 6, the motel put out a wonderful continental breakfast & the rest of the bikers started arriving. we were supposed to get out on the road by 8. many started earlier. it's easier for the staff people watching over the riders & doing the sag support if we aren't too spread out. we were routed through the most beautiful streets of lexington....past breathtakingly beautiful "old south" homes. sari, phyllis, & i were boiling hot before we even got out of town, so stopped to shed some layers before riding on out into the country. later on when we came upon the suburu (which sue was driving today), we were able to drop off some of the clothes we'd shed so we didn't have to pack them on our bikes. we noticed that the suburu had collected quite a few pieces of excess biker-wear by then. we were pretty much at the end of the pack today....again. the 3 of us love sightseeing, & we often stop to snack & chat &/or check our directions. we've become Team Stopalot.
biking today was just about as perfect as biking gets. picture this: back country roads along rippling streams, some rolling hills, sunshine, blue skies, big fluffy white (some gray) clouds, temps hovering around 80 by afternoon, lots of goldfinches, lilacs, redbud trees, tulips, honeysuckle starting to blossom & spreading its heavy sweet odor everywhere, white & pink dogwoods, phlox--both the light purple wild kind & the tamer, colorful, creeping clumps--neglible winds, & courteous drivers....tho' our route was mostly VERY low traffic, so no drivers at all. in fact, drivers have been courteous for the whole trip so far.
& for many of us, today included a visit to one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, Natural Bridge. maybe you're curious, as i was, to know what the other 6 natural wonders of the world are: niagara falls--new york/ontario; giant's causeway--dunlace, ireland; the garden of the gods--colorado; the blue grotto of the island of capri--italy; yellowstone park--wyoming & montana; valley of ten thousand smokes--alaskan peninsula.
many of the bikers opted to make the 4-mi round trip off our route to visit the natural bridge. it's quite a setup. for $10 you can take a walk or shuttle bus down to a lovely nature path for viewing the bridge. it's spectacular, all right. the picture of the bridge includes the back of sari taking a picture of the bridge.
we enjoyed beautiful displays of wildflowers along both sides of the nature path that led under the bridge & on up to a waterfall. after taking our long walk, sari & i got ice cream in the visitor's center, then we 3 adjourned to the front sidewalk to eat some of the lunch items we'd packed early this morning.
this afternoon's route again was beautiful. note in the picture that we were riding on a very low-traffic & rolling road while the semis & heavy traffic beside us were roaring away on I-81.
a little later, while riding on another low-lying road, we crossed railroad tracks several times, giving us quite a bit of practice at making sure we got our bike tires arranged perpendicularly to the rails before riding over them. my roommates for tonight, judy & darleene, say that they encountered quite a few dogs today. i think that all that running & yapping after the earlier riders must have worn out the dogs before we rode by, because we didn't notice many. we're all dreading kentucky, as we understand that dogs are plentiful...& unconfined...there.
fortunately for me, my 2 roommates for the evening got here early & got one of the rooms that was ready early. (often if bikers get to the motel too early their rooms aren't ready.) our room is HUGE. it includes a large entertainment center, little fridge & microwave, hide-a-bed couch, recliner,desk & chair, & 2 queen beds......& even after all that, there's a ton of space open in the middle of the room. in fact, since it began raining outside just as we were about to start eating supper tonight, everyone came to our room to eat.
in the photo, from left, are joan hendricks, darleene, judith, lin, sari, gerrie back on the couch, phyllis, anne (she is a fanTAStic biker!!), & way to the right taking her next bite is gloria (this ride's -- in fact, womantours' -- leader).
patti fixed a fabulous chicken curry (tofu curry for the vegetarians & those of us who like tofu). it was seasoned perfectly & included big chunks of cooked potatoes, carrots, & celery. we ate it over rice. anne made a salad of sliced apples,chopped pecans, blue cheese, baby spinach leaves, & balsamic vinegar. YUM. it just doesn't seem possible that we can be eating this elegantly on a bike ride!
i've been meaning to mention another web site that others from this ride are contributing to; you'll enjoy getting another perspective on this adventure: http://www.drizzle.com/~youngb
rains are predicted for tonight....& all day tomorrow. we've been lucky so far avoiding showers that had been predicted, but perhaps our luck is running out. we (& you) will soon find out.
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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