Bicycling the TransAmerica Trail

Cycling Across the US, Coast to Coast

Bicycling Adventure #3

54 days, 3,783 miles, Jul-Aug 2010

Ray Jardine

2010-09-06Virginia page 53 of 54

Day 53, Virginia

From the 615 to Chesapeake Bay

We drove back to my stopping point of yesterday - in the dark so that I could get a head start on the traffic. So it was just after dawn when I started pedaling.


The morning was chilly and for the first time in over six weeks I wore my shell jacket. The morning was also quite foggy in places, and at one point I could hardly see where I was going. Whenever I heard a vehicle approaching from behind, I got off the road. In fact I did this many times, fog or not, whenever an inconsiderate driver came too close.

In former times I would allow these types to pass close - 18 inches away or less - on the assumption that they hadn't the foggiest idea how unpleasant that was for a cyclist, or maybe that they didn't care, but that they at least saw me and knew what they were doing. Sort of like precision driving, passing close to a hazard, or close to endangering someone. (Never mind that endangering someone is not precision driving.) But no longer. If I see someone coming from behind and not pulling away from the edge, I get off the road.

With no shoulder, getting off the road meant getting of the bike and walking into the weeds.

This I did many times this morning, and at one point the tall grass was hiding a ditch. And as I went down, I'm thinking "What's wrong with some of these Virginia drivers?" Or more like: What's wrong with me, cycling on some of these Virginia roads?

Well, I was warned to be extra careful through here, as two cyclists were killed, two days ago, in Yorktown - which is where I'm headed.

With Jenny leapfrogging at regular intervals, I reached the James River in the early morning, and the ferry terminal. This is a free ride across the great expanse, and it was a lot of fun to ride the big, modern ferry. We stood on the prow of the upper deck, admiring the view and watching the seagulls.

Reaching the James River and the ferry terminal.


On the ferry crossing the James River.

We landed on the other side of the river in historic Jamestown, and got onto the Colonial Parkway - which we had understood to be a pleasant bike ride.

This was highly scenic as it paralleled the waterway. The day was sunny and warm, and there were many pullouts where tourists could stop and stroll down to the water's edge.

But the cycling was anything but pleasant. The roadway had a cobbled texture as though it was meant to simulate those of colonial times, being made with large aggregate instead of gravel. The car traffic was unrelenting, and approaching Williamsburg there was even a tunnel with a sign stating: "No Bicycles." I had to go around.

Worse of all, and I don't know what the road builders were thinking, in some places the shoulder-less cobblestone road had a concrete curb. This meant that at any speed above zero, the bicyclers could not get off the road to avoid cars coming up from behind with poor drivers. I'm sure there are safer ways to reach Yorktown, but I couldn't find any at the time. So I kept plugging away, at slow speed with thoughts of the two fatalities of yesterday.

Then I came to a magnificent view of Chesapeake Bay with Gloucester Point across the sound. I was two miles short of Yorktown, but I had reached salt water of the Atlantic Ocean, and wanted no more of cycling the dangerous Colonial Parkway.

Chesapeake Bay

So at the far end of a pullout I carried the bike a short ways across the sticker-grass to the rocky shoreline, and stopped to admire the empty oyster and scallop shells lining a small beach.

I had reached trip's end.

It's finished!

Miles pedaled today: 42

Total: 3,783 miles in 54 days.

The story has 54 pages. This is page 53.
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