I hate not having the time or energy to blog every day. Mostly because there are so many details I end up forgetting. Funny stories, thoughts that I think 'I have to write about that!' And if I go days without writing, they escape my brain. These days have been long and tiring. When I arrive at my destination it takes all my energy to shower, eat and engage with the wonderful hosts that have invited me into their homes. By the time I head to bed, I can't keep my eyes open. It's getting harder with the ongoing fatigue that has set in. I'm tired of being tired. I was hoping to train into DC from Fredericksburg tomorrow to get a full 2 days off, but it's not looking like I'm able with all my gear. They need the bike boxed up. I'll have Monday to rest and get my haircut. Maybe treat myself to a pedicure...
After Christiansburg, Tony was heading to Roanoke and actually drove me part of my way that day to give me a break. He picked me up at my hotel and dropped me in Roanoke at the public library. And, since he had work there, he had a lunch break and took me to a fabulous place (Hollywood's) for lunch. I had a salad with salmon. I figured I can eat seafood now that I'm in a coastal state! Thanks Tony for the lunch! I cycled the short distance to Buchanan VA and stayed at another warm showers host, Phil and Lori. They have 3 children, Megan, heading to college at the end of this month, Abigail, heading into 8th grade and Elias, heading into 5th grade. Oh! And their dog Bear. Their home is absolutely gorgeous. And, I felt so at home with kids coming and going from camp, parties, soccer practice, mom doing laundry, feeding pets, friends of the kids coming and going! It was awesome and I loved their energy. Nobody in the family was ever home at the same time! I never got a photo, but Megan promised she'd send one at some point and I'll add it to my photo album which includes all my hosts from my bike trip so far. I left their home after Phil made me a great breakfast feeling better after a short day the day prior and knowing I only had 30 miles to Lexington VA. Another warm showers host, Rebecca and Lee's place was amazing! They live on a farm, have a pottery barn (literally, not the store), swimming pool and beautiful home. They have four children, all out of the house now. I arrived and nobody was home so I sat on the swinging bench writing postcards to donors... Yes, if you donate to my charity (Alliance for a Healthier Generation- info on my home page) you get a thank you postcard! Rebecca pulled up with Nathaniel, another cyclist. Nathaniel and Will are traveling across the US, just starting in the east and from Louisville. A couple hours later, Dean pulled up. I've referred to Dean prior, but we met in Kansas and keep running into each other. He's from Nova Scotia and retired. It was wonderful gathering of cyclists and beautiful comfortable home to hang out and rest. And, Rebecca's cooking is to die for! Fresh salad, homemade quiche with tomatoes and basil from the garden and sausage from their pig. Ummmm, yum. And she made homemade ice cream sandwiches. Fell asleep full and happy.
Woke up but still not feeling as rested as I wished. I left by 8 after Rebecca's amazing breakfast with homemade biscuits, eggs and multiple jams/spreads to choose from! I knew the day would be long so I got an early start. Lexington was 4 miles before Lexington to Charlottesville. So, 85 miler. And, the Blue Ridge Mountains was in the way! Quite a climb I had. The first 20 miles were pretty flat. The weather was perfect all day yesterday, which was lucky. About 75 degrees and dry. Sunny. No humidity. How lucky have I been with this cooler weather? And, with those rainy days behind me, I fully appreciated the dry weather. The road followed the South River into Vesuvius. Once you get to Vesuvius, you start climbing. 4 miles up. A steep up. I stopped many times. Two guys passed me before I started to climb and then I saw them get off their bikes and walk once the hill started. Even though the road was windy, they stayed in view for half the climb (2 miles took me 45 minutes) and I assumed they didn't have a triple on their bikes if they were walking. It was actually motivating that I was cycling it and not walking! Empowering. I was a bit slower, but I was NOT going to walk. After I got over the tough part, it mellows out a little, but there's still 25 miles or so of up and down along the Blue Ridge Highway. Exhausting. And, I messed up. Unfortunately I didn't have enough food with me. I was bonking. I had enough water, but not enough fuel. Up one hill, I started to cry. Like lose it. I texted my trainer Aaron and eventually called him and he motivated me through his words. He told me I could do it and I'd feel like I accomplished so much once I finished the day. He told me he was proud of me and that I'd crush the rest of the hills. Tears streamed down my face as he talked. He was hard on me, but supportive. Just what I needed to continue on. About 1 mile up the road, I stopped at a lookout and met Ann and Mort, from Alexandria VA who gave me two Odwalla energy bars. And, as they were doing that, Dean pulled in! He left 2.5 hours after me and caught up. He pulled in and I was so relieved.
Sometimes you feel so alone on this trip. And, I knew he was there. It sounds silly, but within moments I knew I'd be ok. And, after Dean arrived, a few day-cyclists arrived and told us that about 20 miles away, mostly downhill, was a fabulous brew pub. I can do this, I thought. Dean told me he'd join me on the ride to the brew pub. He was my ride angel for the day, for sure. Things were looking up. We pushed on to Blue Mountain Brewery and ate a great 'lunch' at 5:30pm (I'm calling it lunch since we ate again at 9:45pm!). I had a Caesar salad, burger, fries and a brownie sundae. I was so hungry. We both wanted beers, but knew we still had to ride. Dean was going to camp 5 miles up the road, and I had a friends sister hosting me. I texted my host, Sivan to ask if Dean could stay as well. Selfishly it meant Dean would join me on the rest if the 20 miles into Charlottesville. I enjoy his company. She said sure and we finished dinner and cycled the 20 miles. Ending at 85 miles- climbed 6456 ft, burned 4237 calories and road for almost 8 hours, we arrived to a 'Welcome Jessica!' sign on Sivan's front door. Sadie and Talia, Sivan's girls welcomed us with such energy around 8pm that Dean and I didn't know what to do! It was an incredible welcome after an extremely challenging day.
Sivan's home was incredibly welcoming and it felt good to stay at a friend's sisters home (thanks Danielle Turner!). Dean and I had purchased a six-pack of Yuengling beer a mike before arriving at her home and started to celebrate our long day before we even took showers. Talia left with her dad for the night, Sadie went to bed and after showers, Sivan made Dean and I a great dinner. Cheese and crackers, pasta and salad. And cookies. At like 10pm. Celebration! Fell asleep and woke up to Sivan's amazing breakfast spread of bagels, cream cheese and lox (c'mon, she's Jewish like me and I was thrilled!), omelets, turkey bacon, yogurt and fruit. WOW! Dean and I said our goodbyes after fueling our bodies and headed out of Charlottesville. We are definitely on the east coast. Drivers are impatient. They honk at us. They are all in a rush. It's frustrating and I long for the drivers in Kentucky and Missouri that just pass when it's safe and give you plenty of room.
We're in Louisa now, after 30 miles at a place that sells pie (just had apple pie with ice cream!) with Dean and we are parting ways here. It has been a great week of seeing him and it's always hard to part ways with someone you enjoy cycling with. This trip is about meeting fabulous Americans and Canadians (Dean!) and having to say goodbye. It's always hard because you want more time to stay another day someplace or spend more hours chatting at a coffee shop with someone. But, you must move on.
I'm still tired. I want to wake up and feel rested but it's not happening. So, I cycle to Spotsylvania today (30 more miles and it's already 4) and stay with my personal trainer's sister in law tonight. And, instead of biking the 70 miles into Washington DC tomorrow, I'll bike to Fredericksburg and Matt and Shailee, my brothers's really close friend from High School and wife are hosting me for two nights. Matt and Shailee came down to Brasil for my brother and Cassia's wedding a couple of years ago and I really enjoy them. They have a little girl Asha and that means more kid time!! Matt has offered to pick me up in Fredericksburg tomorrow after only a 15 mile bike ride from Spotsylvania, so I'll get in almost two days off, which I desperately need. I want the last two weeks to be enjoyable and without rest, they won't be. I need to recharge.
Thank you to all of you posting on Facebook, texting, emailing, calling. I'm sorry if I haven't responded, but I have such low energy and need the energy to ride and fuel my body. And rest. I feel your love and support and want to thank you all. Some people hit a wall at the beginning of a trip, some in the middle, some at the end. I'm hitting it now. But, I know I can scale this wall. I'll make it. The 'Q' word isn't even an option.
(Once I have better Internet, I'll add captions to the photos)