NYC to Florida – Day 9

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Date: 27 April 2011
Woke up in: Guinea, Virginia
Fell asleep in: Richmond, Virginia
Miles ridden today: 48
Total miles ridden so far: 423.5
Weather: Hot. Relentlessly, depressingly, windy.

If I were asked to produce a list of the top five things in life that are guaranteed to make me fall into a pit of despondency and despair, the sensation of battling against the wind whilst cycling downhill would definitely make it onto the list. Some would say that suggests I’ve had a relatively easy life. I put it to you that those ‘some’ have never spent three straight days cycling against the wind.

It’s just so wrong. The landscape has now evolved from the evil climbs of Pennsylvania to an undulating, rolling Virginian landscape that SHOULD be relatively easy for a seasoned-ish cyclist to deal with.

Undulating is easy on a bicycle; the simple principle is that you should cycle as hard and fast (and in the highest gear you’ve got) down a hill, and use the speed and momentum you gather there to get you up most, if not all, of the way up the next one. As you start to climb again, start clicking down your gears into lower and lower numbers when your legs tell you it’s time, and the job should pretty much be done. Unless, of course, you happen to be cycling straight into the wind. When that happens, you’re stuffed (excuse the technical language, but you get the gist), and you want to cry. Well, I do anyway.

Any-hoo, rant over. Until tomorrow – apparently it’s going to be windy again. Something about it being tornado season, I believe.

We spent Day 9 of the big bike ride cycling ever further into Civil War territory. The local powers that be have littered the side of the highways with information boards full of detailed facts and figures about various local people, places and battles that have taken place in the vicinity. All very interesting and educational, but they appear from nowhere, are gone in a flash (even when you’re a ‘natural born speed reader’ climbing one of the aforementioned evil hill climbs) and are never accompanied by a lay-by. Road safety hazards, one and all.

We spent a fair bit of today cruising down the East Coast’s ‘historic Route 1’, which was pretty good until we got to the (frankly terrifying) approach to Richmond. Note, if you’re not going to follow the ACA route faithfully, as we didn’t today, at least have the good sense to get the hell off a key route before it gets too close to a city. Six lane highways and cycling really, really don’t mix. You need to be supremely confident at owning your road space. Do as I say, not as I do…

My nice person of the day award went to the water delivery van man, who refilled our bottles with wonderful fresh, cold water whilst we stopped to gather our picnic ingredients. Thank you Mr Nice Bloke.

My evil dog of the day award went to the snarling beastie who ran across a four lane highway in an attempt to threaten, intimidate and possibly even bite me outside of Ashland in Hanover County. As it happened, I stopped the bike, shouted at him and gave him my best ‘I’m really pissed off with you’ look and he Backed. Right. Off. It’s the first time I’ve ever wanted a dog to be run over, and I really hope it happens to the evil little sod soon. Life is too short to deal with mean hounds.

Thanks also to the good folk of Carmel Church; we had a most enjoyable picnic lunch outside your church, and loved the God’s Big Backyard sign.

Day 10 will see us starting Map 4 of the ACA’s Atlantic Coast Bicycle Route. It’s about 450 miles long, so we’ll be using it for a while. Delights coming up in the next three days include Scotland, the Isle of Wight and Surrey…

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About silkakt

I'm a map addict. I nip out in my lunch break to go to the National Map Centre, just around the corner from where I work, to feed my habit. My fix normally costs £7.99 and comes in the form of an OS map, although I'm a big fan of Sustrans cycle maps, the Trailblazer walking guides and maps of the world too. And once I've got my new map, I start plotting - routes, adventures and an escape away from the office that I spend too much time in. Maps, quite simply, make the world a better and more exciting place.
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