The TransAmerica Bicycle Route's unforgettable Cookie Lady has been offering traveling cyclists a place to tank up their water bottles, restore their carbs and even spend the night for more than 30 years.
This summer, June Curry is cutting back on some of those activities. Although the Bike House will remain open during the day for touring bicyclists who want a look around, she'll no longer be offering overnight lodging there.
The Adventure Cycling Association blog says a good friend of June's recently told them:
“…the situation (not having cyclists stay at the bike house) may change in the future, but right now, June would prefer not to have overnight visitors.”
It's no wonder. June has suffered a stroke, broken wrist and other ailments in recent years. In spite of that, she always seems to do what she can for bicyclists who stop to rest at the water spigot in Afton, Virginia, a small town on the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
She earned Adventure Cycling's first-ever Trail Angel Award for a routine that started on a hot day in 1976.
That's the year that hundreds of bicyclists were making their way cross-country on a route mapped out by BikeCentennial, which later became the Adventure Cycling Association. The town of Afton is located a little more than halfway up the first really hard climb on the route, and a few bicyclists had stopped to ask for cold water on that long uphill slog.
June wasn't the only one interested in helping the travelers; her father and uncle also encouraged the bicyclists to stop.
In an online book, “The Cookie Lady of Afton, Virginia: My Bike Family; A collection of June Curry's bicycling anecdotes” June's cousin-in-law, Bev Haven, says the Bike House originally belonged to June's Uncle Benny. When he passed away in 1977, June and her father turned his home into a Bike House for the touring bicyclists, whose visits he always enjoyed.
The last time I visited, back in 2000, that house was papered with postcards to June from cyclists from around the world (that's June with just a few of the postcards behind her). Other artifacts included piles of picture albums with Polaroids of all the bicyclists. Digging back to May 1984, I was able to locate the picture of my friend and me from our 1984 TransAmerica bike tour.
Although it's no longer open for the night, a visit to the Bike House is certainly worthwhile.
In recent years, bicyclists have been paying back the kindness that June has showed them. The Milepost Zero Bicycle Club in Waynesboro has done what it can to keep the Bike House in good shape, and both Crazy Guy on a Bike and the Richmond Area Bicycle Association have raised funds to help June over some rough times.