Read about my Woman Tours ride through Virginia! Farmland, horse farms, history, cool cities and the introduction of hills, hills and more hills!
Cycling Suffolk to Williamsburg (55 Miles)
We woke up to high humidity and overcast skies for our ride into Williamsburg. It was predicted to be hot, so the clouds were welcome to hang around as long as possible. Today, our guide promised the introduction of more hills (an estimated 1600 feet of climbing), after our many, many flat miles cycling through the coastal plains of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
We traveled on lots of country roads, with farmland and horse farms predominating. Virginia scenery along this part was much like North Carolina, but a little more “formal.” Long stretches of white fences emerged, as did more formal gardens and old brick homes.
Hills came as we descended into the river valleys of the tidewater region and back out.
Today had three highlights – our fourth ferry ride, checking out Jamestown and ending in the lovely city of Williamsburg for a rest day! We hit the Jamestown ferry at mile 45. A short ride after the ferry and we were at the re-created Jamestown settlement. We watched a film to remind us of the history of Jamestown (a real flop as a settlement overall!), and walked through the village and got a look at the ships. It was super hot, so 60-90 minutes was all we were up for.
We were looking forward to arriving in Williamsburg, but not to the ride on the Colonial Parkway, which is Virginia’s equivalent of the cobbles in Europe. After 45 miles on the bike, once we hit the parkway, all we wanted was to be finished!
Lunch in downtown Williamsburg and off to the hotel for a shower, supper, laundry and relaxation!
Rest Day in Williamsburg
I was pretty dubious about historic Williamsburg, but I came away wanting to return and do the full tour. The re-enactors that populate the city are excellent and very knowledgable. We watched a re-enactment of a march to the Governor’s Palace when Virginians were incensed over the British governor seizing the local supply of gun powder. They conveyed why this issue was important to the colonists and the arguments that were bandied about at the time. And the re-enactors were pretty effective at getting the crowd engaged!
We strolled through William and Mary (graduation was the day before, with individual school ceremonies today.) It was fun to watch the beaming parents and grads!
I actually went for a swim in the 25 meter outdoor saline pool at our hotel. It was a great way to cool off on a hot day! Then dressed and back to Williamsburg for a birthday dinner for our runner (Lynda) turned biker (97 marathons or greater and counting!)
Williamsburg to Richmond (67 Miles)
Another hot and humid day, with afternoon showers promised. More hills were promised as well, and they were delivered.
The scenery was very similar to the ride into Williamsburg, although the horse farms grew, as did the number of large houses.
30 miles of the ride were on the Capital trail – a beautiful winding bike trail through rural Virginia. We saw lots of other cyclists and enjoyed a relaxed pace away from any worries of cars, trucks and bad roads.
Once we arrived in Richmond, my friend Susan wanted to check out the Flying Squirrel stadium and gift shop (a AA affiliate of the SF Giants). I reached for normally trustworthy google maps, which took us up and over the biggest climb in downtown Richmond. When I re-entered the search, more riding. Finally we made it to the stadium, got our Flying Squirrel purchases and headed the mile back to the hotel, stopping for lunch along the way.
Richmond has an interesting commercial history, which was clear in the mostly re-purposed industrial buildings and warehouses. Beautiful old homes. I put Richmond on my list of places to return to!
Richmond to Fredricksburg (74 miles planned, 72 actual)
Another hot and humid day with 2500 feet of planned climbing. We rode out of town in morning traffic, but after 10 miles or so, emerged onto country roads. After our first SAG stop, we encountered the first of two “walls” for the day – a 12% or more incline. While the climb was pretty short, it didn’t feel that way when we were on it. Boy, howdy! My legs felt like toast!
Plantations emerged in many places along the route and descents into river valleys with the inevitable climb up and out. We rode through the Fredricksburg battlefield (with a surprise long climb at the end of the day), and then turned onto busy Highway 1 to get to our hotel. Four lanes of very busy traffic at 2:00 in the afternoon! Ugh! We were delighted to get off the road and into our hotel.
Lunch and happy hour at a cowboy saloon, it was soon time to get prepared for our trip into Alexandria and another rest day! Woot!
Fredericksburg to Alexandria (80 planned miles, 85 actual)
We woke to cool temperatures and lower humidity – hooray! The price we paid for the great weather was 3500 feet of climbing, lots of wind, close to 20 miles on four to six lane highways and the final miles on a winding, slow, bumpy bike path.
The scenery was much the same as other days in Virginia, although more development made you aware you were close to DC. The first 15 miles or so had a lot of traffic on two lane roads before settling down until we reached the highways later in the ride.
While there was a lot of climbing, we thankfully had only one really steep climb.
After our first 12 miles of four to six lane travel, we emerged on the lovely, quite town of Occaquan. What a sea of tranquility!
But the route map was wrong – we were to go into Ft. Belvoir at the Tulley gate. Instead of the 2.5 miles indicated on the route map, it was 6.5 miles to Tulley Gate. On busy US 1. We had two long climbs. I thanked my lucky stars when I saw the turn just before another long climb – with the right lane closed! (I was imagining angry cars buzzing past me as I struggled up the hill at 5-10 mph.)
We stopped for our day pass into the fort, and on we rode through the fort and to Mt. Vernon, about mile 74 on the day.
The next eight – nine miles were on the Mount Vernon bike trail. Coming from Atlanta and the Silver Comet trail, I told everyone that this was no bike trail! It is a narrow, winding, up and down running path with scores of tree roots, wooden bridges and bumps to go around. It took about three miles for me to finally stopped being pissed off at the trail and just ride!
We were so excited to emerge from the trail an onto quiet streets only a mile from our hotel! It was 3:30 or later, and we wanted a shower and FOOD.
A group of us walked to Zento – a great Japanese / sushi restaurant close to the hotel. Great company, excellent food and service! Ready for bed after a hard day!
Rest Day in Alexandria
Par for the course, I woke up at 5:30 am and got out of bed aroung 6:15 and went downstairs for breakfast. I learned last night that someone had stolen the iphone from the box I shipped home to Bob, so this morning I faced the task of filling a report with the hotel, Fed Ex, Williamsburg police and going on line to shut off functionality of the phone and track it. (Remember, it got wet in Conway SC).
I had lunch with my friend Broc Romanek of corporatecounsel.net. He is so much fun! Thanks Broc for the perfect lunch on a cool and rainy day.
Back to the hotel before heading out for a lovely dinner, where I met Remi while we waited for the hotel shuttle to pick us up. Made me miss my Sadie girl!
The Rest of Virginia
We left DC on Friday morning and took bike paths through the city and the suburbs. Soon enough, around mile 11, we crossed into our sixth state of the trip – Maryland!
Read about the trip through Maryland next time!