May 16, 1984
Ashland, Va., to Mineral, Va.
I’m reprinting day-to-day journal entries here from a cross-country bicycle tour my friend Bruce and I took in 1984. Read more journal entries at TransAmerica Tour 1984.
I jumped out of the sack before 6, but we still didn’t leave until 8. Three packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast. It’s still friggin’ cold in the morning (see Bruce in sweater).
After pedaling around Ashland, we headed up some narrow roads to Scotchtown, the home of Patrick Henry. We ate an early lunch there and talked to the groundskeeper, an old guy in beatup overalls
Our feeling of freedom as we pedal across the countryside gives new meaning to the American patriot’s famous quote: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
After leaving Scotchtown, the route started to climb. We were leaving the sandy Tidewater region and entering the firmer Piedmont plateau. This means that streams drop a few feet to the softer coastal sands, earning the term “fall line.” We found another reason to call it the “fall line.” Pedaling up an incline, Bruce turned his head, was startled by a twinge in his neck, and rode off the road and into a 3-foot ditch. No injuries to bike or Bruce.
A final push over rollercoaster hills took us to the Christopher Run Campground on Lake Anna near Mineral. The campsites overlook the man-made lake, which is surrounded by pastured hills. We bought supplies at the market there.
We’re hungry all the time. Bruce recorded today’s food intake:
Two packets of oatmeal, tea, and a banana for breakfast; banana, cheese, bread and peanut butter three hours later at Scotchtown; standard lunch at noon; an apple juice and 6 Quaker Chocolate Chip chewy granola bars at 2:30.
Making dinner is already a pain in the butt. I exhausted my complete repertoire the first night with spaghetti. The second night featured tuna casserole (neither of us wants to take credit for that), and Bruce made omlettes last night. I’m using frozen hamburger patties, corn, tomato paste and some salsa, cooking it together and serving it on a plate of spaghetti noodles. It’s very hot. I told Bruce it’s like the 5-way Cincinnati chili I used to eat growing up. (This meal stayed with us a few days, if you know what I mean, and was not repeated the rest of the trip.)
After dinner, I walked down to the shore and listened to the lowing of a solitary cow on a finger of land across the lake. It was a very peaceful place to watch the sunset.
Headline: May 16, 1984 —
Colorado Sen. Gary Hart defeats former VP Walter Mondale
in Oregon Democratic primary
(Mondale eventually prevailed and was defeated
in November by President Reagan)
Camped at Lake Anna, about eight miles from Mineral, Va. We made roughly 60 miles today and were camped by 4 p.m. Things are going well. The soreness in our knees is fading, and our spirits are good. Tomorrow we put in at Charlottesville for supplies and possibly a little R&R. It’s like we’re a couple of hayseeds that have never been off the farm the way we’re going on about Charlottesville.
We have camped here before, in 1981. Lake Anna is a huge, man-made body of water, created by Vepco, similar to Deep Creek Lake. There should be a beautiful sunset tonight, which I hope to capture on film.
We snacked at Patrick Henry’s house around 10:30 this morning. I had eaten two packets of oatmeal, tea, banana and more tea for breakfast at 7:30, but I devoured banana, cheese, bread and peanut butter three hours later. Then we ate lunch at noon.
Tonight we are having a one-pot mix of noodles, ground beef, corn tomato, chile salsa and various spices. It is very hot, almost as hot as my thighs after pedaling the “roller coaster hills” (Bike Centennial description) of the “Piedmont area.”
The hills were tough in places today, plus we hit a (sometimes gusting) head-wind most of the day.
I went down this morning, pedaling up one incline; wound up in a three-foot ditch. As I was turning my head (I can’t remember if it was to blow my nose or not), I felt a sharp twinge in my neck. It startled me and the next thing I saw was the shoulder of the road, and then the ditch. Luckily, I was able to slide the bike into it, and with the exception of slightly skewing my front wheel, neither the bike nor myself was hurt.
The old man who looks after the Patrick Henry grounds came around and looked us over as we ate in the parking lot. He was a nice fellow, used to seeing cyclists. He was telling us how well constructed the house was and I mentioned the Shirley Plantation’s 12-inch thick brick walls and how, in the midst of the recent tornado, with trees uprooted all around the house, the house was untouched. The man spat his tobacco juice and nodded.
“Yup,” he said. “Them houses was built in good times.”
A woman at a convenience store along the way told me where to find the batteries I was looking for. “Down that aisle clean to the end,” she said.
Dinner is almost ready. I am hungry. My last snack was about 2:30. I had an apple juice and six Quaker Chocolate Chip chewy granola bars. I bought a package of eight, thinking it would last us a day or two . .
Day 5 — Discovering gravity the hard way
About the picture — Bruce enjoying PB&J at Patrick Henry homestead