Monday, November 30, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 2 - Campground

I arrived at the Chickahominy Riverfront Park around mid-afternoon. After checking in, I rode to my sight and couldn't believe my luck. My sight had to have been the best one in the campground. It was situated right at the very point where a small tributary feeds into the Chickahominy River. After setting up my tent I stood in awe of the view.As if the view weren't enough, when I looked to my right or left, there were no campers in sight. It was as though I had this part of the campground to myself. I Poured myself a bit of stout, sat on the picnic table, took out my Ipod to read a while, took in my surroundings and thought to myself, "it don't get no better than this!" In case you were wondering, no, the Swedish Bikini Team did not drop in.

After a bit of reading, I started about the task of fixing dinner. While the chicken jambalaya simmered slowly, I watched the sunset.The sun bid farewell for another day just as dinner was done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Colonial Traingle Ride - Day 2 - Williamsburg

I arrived in Colonial Williamsburg late morning on Saturday. The weather was gorgeous. I found a place to lock my bike and spent the next few hours walking up and down the main street. Here is a taste of what I saw.

I found a bench outside the Governor's Palace, sat and basked in the sun, nibbling on crackers and beef jerky and observed 18th century colonial life go on around me.

Before leaving Williamsburg, I ventured over to Merchant Square and visited the The Cheese Shop. I knew the temps would be dropping this evening and thought a couple stiff stouts might be in order. I settled on a Stone Russian Imperial Stout and a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.

With the stouts safely tucked away in my Panniers, I headed out of Williamsburg for the 20 mile ride to my campground. The Colonial Parkway was closed for construction between Williamsburg and Jamestown, so I jumped on Route 31. This adjoined with the start of the VA Capital Trail and I came across my favorite sign of the trip.Knowing I had plenty of time and the fact that the trail was perfect, I rode at as leisurely a pace as possible and enjoyed the view.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Colonial Triangle Tour - Day 2 - Colonial Parkway

With my campground broken down and bike fully loaded, I headed out for the second day of my micro-tour. I jumped back on the Newport News Park Bikeway.I rode the Bikeway for a couple miles to an adjoining road. I found a break in the fence and pushed the bike through and across a small ditch and onto this country road.I followed this road to the Colonial Parkway. I followed the Parkway along the York River for a few miles.Then it turned inland towards Williamsburg.This section of the Parkway is pretty hilly and it helped me see how I and my bike would perform fully loaded. As I have mentioned before, I have my eyes on doing the Blue Ridge Parkway next Summer. While the tiny undulations of the Parkway, pale in comparison to the mammoth climbs of the Blue Ridge, I thought this little section would give me a microcosmic glimpse of what to expect. Conclusion – I NEED TO REDUCE WEIGHT SIGNIFICANTLY!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 2 - I Wish I Were a Eunuch

Men have often times, and rightly so, been accused of being insensitive. However, there is a subject upon which all men, everywhere, are tender, sensitive and sympathetic. That subject of course centers around that part of our anatomy that, well, makes a man a man.

We may not have the biggest or the prettiest, but what we have we've grown attached to and are rather fond of. We do not like it when either our own or someone else's are being abused.

When we witness another man being kicked in the gonads, all men collectively draw a quick breath and in unison instinctively reach for our own, grimace, groan, draw our knees together, and bend slightly at the waist. When we heard about the horrific incident where Lorena Bobbitt severed her husband's TOOL all men slept on their stomachs for a season.

When I look back over the history of mankind, I can't help but conclude that Eunuchs are among the most unfortunate. To be cruelly deprived of that which arguably makes a man what he is, is almost beyond my feeble ability to comprehend. I wonder as to the details of their miserable existence. Not personally knowing a Eunuch, I am left to my own imagination (which I'm sure by now my readers realize is a vivid one). Not only were they deprived of these precious gems of pleasure, but such an offense was cast upon them so that they might attend to the harem of royalty. How cruel is that? I suspect that these young ladies, knowing full well the limitations of these poor, pitiful men; went out of their way to expose themselves and flaunt the more attractive aspects of the female anatomy. In so doing, bringing theses unfortunate Souls to feverish heights of pent up frustrations.

When I awoke on the second day of my bike tour, shivering uncontrollably from the cold, I realized that there is at least one advantage to being a Eunuch. If you ain't got em, you don't have to worry about freezing them off:-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 1 - Night

From Washington's Headquarter, I jumped on the Newport News Park Bikeway and rode it around to the campground.

It was mid-afternoon and knowing it would get dark early I set about getting things together. The first order of business was to comb the campground and gather as much firewood as I could find. That being done, I set-up my tent and unrolled my ground pad and sleeping bag. Next I began to make preparations for dinner. One of the goals of this trip was to experiment with my different meals. I'll talk more about that in a separate post. Suffice it to say here, that one of my goals was to cook my dinners using a single pot. Tonight I would have spaghetti with red sauce and pepperoni.By the time dinner was done and all the dishes clean, darkness was descending. I started a fire with my meager supply of firewood. Once the sun went down, it was amazing how cold it got and how quick it was in getting there. I boiled some water and made a cup of hot cocoa and stood as near the fire as I could. Slowly sipping the hot drink and surrounded by the warm glow of the fire, my world had truly become small and cozy. Just the way I like it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the drink and firewood were deplenished and the cold was immediately there to remind me of the bigger and crueler world around me. It was dark. It was cold. The fire was dying. I had no place to sit. Though it was still early (7:00 PM), there was but one choice left to me, climb in my tent.

I put on sweat pants and a couple shirts and climbed into my sleeping bag. I took out my Ipod Touch on which I had downloaded the Kindle App. I starting reading "The Worst Journey in the World". This is a true story about a group of British explorers in the Antarctic. They were trying to be the first to reach the South Pole" As I lay there in the warmth of my sleeping bag, I thought about how apropos it was on such a cold night to be reading of such an adventure. The trials I would encounter would pale in comparison to what these brave men went through and the price they would ultimately pay.

I read for an hour or so and my eye lids grew heavy. I turned off the Ipod, slid further down in the sleeping bag. My world had become small and cozy again. I smiled and fell fast asleep.

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 1 - Lunch with the First Pres

As I rode around the battlefield roads of Yorktown, I decided to stop and have lunch at "General Washington's Headquarters".

It was from this area that George Washington conducted the battle of Yorktown. He had two tents set-up. A larger tent that he used for meeting with his staff and a smaller tent which served as his personal lodging and office space.I sat on the grass and partook of my crackers and cheese, beef jerky and dried fruit.To think, I could literally be sitting and eating in the exact same spot where George Washington sat and ate. Wow!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 1 - Yorktown

Having survived the near gale force headwinds, I arrived in Yorktown mid-morning.For the next few hours, I thoroughly enjoyed being a bike touring tourist!

I walked up the earthworks that were erected for siege warfare. The sun was out, the temperatures were mild and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. I sat down and looked out over the battlefield and pondered the precarious position that the British found themselves in. At their back was the York River and at their front was the French and American Forces just capturing redoubts that put them in point-blank-cannon- firing-range.I then rode into the historic town of Yorktown. Some of the houses still bare signs of warfare.I ventured over to the Grace Episcopal Church and walked around the adjacent graveyard. I found the grave of General Thomas Nelson, Jr. He died at the age of 50. Yet, in what we would consider a short life, I couldn't help but think about all he had accomplished. He was the governor of VA. He fought in the Revolutionary War. He signed the Declaration of Independence. Just as his grave announces, "He gave all for liberty." I wonder the mark my life will leave?I then went for a ride on the battlefield roads.Along the way, I stopped by Surrender Field. The place where the British forfeited their arms and surrendered to the combined French and American forces. As I stood there looking out over that field while a recording of the event echoed in my ears, it wasn't hard to be transformed back over 200 years.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Day 1 - Wind

On every tour a little wind must blow. Considering how this trip started, it would be more appropriate to say "...a lot of wind must blow." On Friday morning, I finished packing my bike and was ready to head out around 8:30 AM.I faced a 20 mile ride to Yorktown, all of which was directly into a very stiff wind. When you couple the facts that my bike was completely loaded down, the panniers were sticking out a mile and I was sitting relatively straight up, the going was slow to say the least. If it wasn't for the traffic buzzing by, I probably would have adopted the sailing maneuver of tacking.

I was exerting an appreciable amount of energy but was barely able to maintain 10 mph. Tooling along at a snails pace gave me plenty of time to think and equate this ride to real life. Difficulties are a veritable part of life. We cannot escape them. They blow into our lives without warning. They inflict pain and retard our progress. What are we to do? If we tried to shelter ourselves from them, our world would become very small indeed. If we turned around every time we encountered them, we would never get to where we need to go. In real life, just like in bike riding, no matter how steep the road, no matter how hard the wind blows, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how tired you are, the only option is to put your head down and keep pedaling.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Colonial Triangle Ride - Prelude - Where You Heading?

Where you heading? That's what the attractive blonde asked me when she saw me with my Bike Friday fully loaded for touring. Our paths had crossed at the start of the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown, VA. Since Yorktown is the Eastern most start of the Adventure Cycling Transamerica Trail, I'm sure she more than half way expected me to respond that I was heading to Oregon or some other distant destination. You can imagine her disconcertedness when I responded, "I'm just out for a weekend ride!" She smiled a gorgeous smile and responded, "Oh - that's nice!" That's what she said with her mouth, but her eyes bespoke a different story.

I could tell she was torn, here before her, stood straddling his bike, a veritable hunk of a man that any woman would consider herself fortunate to have. Yet, she was puzzled and considered it wholly ridiculous that someone would go through all the trouble of fully loading their bike with clothes, food, shelter and bedding only to spend the weekend. In an instant, she concluded that I was a complete and utter DORK!!

This short interchange got me to thinking. Why is it that bike touring should be limited to those few fortunate souls that possess the means or the courage to walk away from the daily grind? Why can't us normal, everyday, working folks that have families and responsibilities, jump on our bikes and get away, even if it's for a day or two?

This past weekend, that's exactly what I did. I took Friday off work, loaded my bike down and headed out for a three day weekend/bike ride/MICRO TOUR!! I'll tell you all about it in upcoming posts.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

$&#@!* CARS!!!!! - #3

Yesterday as I rode home I had another close encounter with cars (that's plural). When you commute to work these kind of encounters are unfortunately, inevitable and too frequent. It is possible to minimize these encounters by riding carefully, obeying the law, signaling your intentions and carefully choosing your route. However, as this story will demonstrate, despite your best intentions and your meticulous planning, --it happens.

I was riding slowly (10 mph) through the neighborhoods. It was still light out, but the sun had set and darkness was quickly descending. I was less than a mile from home as I came upon a small intersection and noticed two cars, in succession, were approaching from a side street on my right. With my superior cognitive skills, I immediately ascertained that we would all reach the intersection at the exact same time. I clearly had the right of way, but instinctively began to lightly touch the brakes until I made eye contact with the older gentleman that was driving and was certain he saw me. We never made eye contact and sure enough, he pulled out right in front of me. I hit the brakes to keep from T-boning him and that was when he noticed me, flinched and kept going. I simply turned my palm skyward and shrugged my shoulders as if to say "hello - open your eyes - pay attention". I wasn't angry, because in his defense, it was starting to get dark, the streetlights had just fired up and I should have probably switched on my front light. Recognizing my culpability, I handled the encounter in a cool, calm and collective manner.

It was the second car, immediately behind the first that really caught me off guard. I was still recovering from the aforementioned near miss, when I looked over and made contact with the young lady driving the second car. I expected to receive a knowing and sympathetic glance from her relative to the obtuseness of that first driver and my superior bike handling skills. She smiled kindly and then pulled out right in front of me!!!! I was shocked and appalled. She saw me. She made eye contact. She smiled. She knew she had a stop sign. She knew I had the right of way. She witnessed me almost getting smashed by the first car. YET - despite that plethora of information - SHE PULLED OUT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!!!! Needless to say, my reaction to this sweet, young lady was not nearly as innocuous as that of the first encounter.

After swerving to miss the second car, I turned around and watched them both drive away. I turned back towards home, reached down, turned on my lights and rode on.