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Friday, June 8, 2007

Hot humid and a great day

We started our day looking for another road off-route that might be a more direct path for us. We found one, US highway 250, out of Charlottesville. This road intersects with our normal route but cuts about 15 miles from our trip. Luckily for us this road was also very close to a performance bike shop. Remember, we were desperately in need of some butt butter.

I called ahead to make sure they had what we needed. The nice guy on the phone told me they did have it. The one thing he failed to share and I failed to ask was that they opened at 10am. So we got there at 9:15 and sat around for 45 minutes in the heat.

Their AC was on full blast so I sat with my back against their glass front door. The seal at the bottom was not very good so I got to enjoy a constant blast of cold air up my shirt. I think they will have to clean off that door later today but man, did it feel good. We got what we needed, including Cytomax (an electrolyte replacement drink like Gatorade) and power bars. The Cytomax is tangy orange flavor and tastes like, well tangy orange, I guess it is aptly named.

We hit the road at about 10:20 and hopped on the 250. It only took me about 10 minutes and several very close calls to realize this was the wrong road to be on. I think the only thing this shortcut was getting us closer to is a trip to the emergency room. The final straw was when a huge semi truck was barreling up behind us. I was next to Heather passing her. She was on the 6 inches of shoulder available on the road. This truck behind me was fully loaded with about 10 cars stacked up. I had no where to go and I was pedaling as fast as I could. This truck driver, instead of slowing down, decides it would be a good idea to lay in on the horn. All the while he is fast approaching my trailer. Thanks to evolutionary gains in the human body my fight or flight reflexes kicked in. I was able to increase my speed just enough to get past Heather and squeeze onto the white line. The truck never slowed down and did not move over at all. We passed the truck at the next light but we were both so shaken we did not think to take any action. There was actually a sherrif about 3 cars back and in retrospect we should have flagged down the sherrif and reported the trucker.

As I said, we were both shaken up from the road (I think we tripled our close calls in that short time on 250) so we just parked in a used car lot under some shade and whipped out the old cell phone with google maps on it.

If you have never seen the google maps it is a downloadable program for cell phones and offers maps, directions, and local searches using the data connection on the phone. You can even interface the program with an external GPS unit (no, we don't have one, but cool feature). We have used this program on several occasions to find bike shops, hotels, and campgrounds.

Well, we did find a route that got us off those major roads and back on the printed map we have been using from Adventure Cycling. We used the map program one more time to find the only hotel within 40 miles of our route.

We were actually planning on camping tonight because we could not find a hotel on route. As the day dragged on we realized we were not going very far today. The weather has turned very hot today and there was a heat advisory warning people to not do any strenous exercising outdoors. I may be wrong but I think biking with 150 lbs of gear attached to you my qualify as strenous.

Our plan then was to just stop whenever we can at businesses and cool down. We also planned on drinking plenty of water. We knew this would slow us down and we would not go as far but the alternative of having a heat stoke seemed much less comfortable. The plan worked out well. While we were hot and uncomfortable, we were not overheated to a dangerous level.

Heather was sweating more today than ever before. She mentioned she wished there were some way we could express in words the condition of our clothing. I am an old hand at profuse perspiration so I will give it a go here. Imagine when you are washing your clothes and you go to move the clothes to the dryer, only to discover the power has gone out. Unfortunately, the washer skipped the spin cycle and the dryer will not work without power. These are the only clothes you have to wear and you have to go out the door quickly. So you put the hot, drenched, dripping clothing on and hope it dries at some point in the 80% humidity. Sometimes while we are pedaling, I think it is raining but eventually I figure out it is just me dripping. My favorite is when I stop and stand up straight for a few seconds. This allows the water to build up under the helmet. Then as I look down the water poors down my helmet visor in a torrent much the same as dumping a glass of water on my head. I hope that gives you an idea of the condition we were in today.

As I said, we stopped often and drank plenty. We were lucky to find this hotel here. We check the weather often and knew it was going to be hot and AC makes us more comfortable. As we rolled into the hotel (and yes, we negotiated the rate down) we got a surprise. A huge thunderstorm rolled in and right now it is a torrential downpour out there. Sure glad we are comfy here in this room.

I have have a confession to make. I have been holding out on some stories of people we have met on the road.

Let's start with the couple in the Afton Inn. They were a 50+ couple that just last year hiked 900 miles of the Appalachian trail. The wife said she would not do it again but is willing to provide support for her husband. He of course said he wants to do it again. She mentioned that most of the couples they met we split the same way as they were. And an interesting thing. She mentioned that out of most couples the women seem to gain weight while the men lose it.

Next, this morning we met a high school student waiting for the bike shop to open. He just graduated 8th grade and had the day off. I assured him that biking across the country is not that difficult, you just have to start and then keep going until you are done. He was the one that gave us the heads up on the heat advisory (thanks man). I hope we have inspired another bicycle tourist.

Finaly tonight as Heather was checking into the hotel this guy walks up to me and say "man you are living my dream". I find that to be inspiring because I am living my dream as well and it is nice to know others dream as I do. We talked for a bit. I explained about the cost and requirements of bicycle touring. He has done some trips on his own out to Ohio and I think North Carolina. Well, my friend, we did it and so can you.

Tomorrow Jenilee (Heather's best friend) will meet us and grab our gear for us so we can shoot on a head. I have reevaluated our route for tomorrow and I think I can cut a few miles from the route the map suggests by taking one road all the way to Fredricksburg, VA. If I really push it hard and the heat is not too bad I may make it to Alexandria, VA.

I am actually awake now and not about to pass out so that is a nice change. I attribute that to the easy 55 miles we did today. Tonight we are at the only hotel in Louisa, VA. Good night/morning/afternoon to you all. Thanks for the comments, we love to read them and help us to smile through the punishment all day thinking back on what you have said.


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