Day 79 - Richmond, VA to Williamsburg / Jamestown, VA, 92 km, 292 alt.; Oct 7th, 2015 This is to be my last official day on the tour. Tonight I will be in Williamsburg, VA, staying with my last warmshowers hosts on my tour, Debra and Camilla. But first I'll have to get out of Richmond. Frank is a former competitive cyclist and today works as an instructor for commercial animations, a job I admire for the necessary visual talents involved. He today owns a nice old late 19th-century townhouse in the eastern part of Richmond, near Libby Hill Park, the park in which just a week before the world championships in cycling had ended. (http://richmond2015.wpengine.com/about/courses/road-circuit/). He accompanied me down to the canal where the recently opened Virginia Capital Trail runs which connects Richmond and Williamsburg, ending after more than 50 miles or 82 km right at the Jamestown museum with its replica three sailboats and the fort built by the first settlers in 1607. This first permanent settlement by the British in Virginia comes to life again here in the historical triangle of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown - and I intend to spend some time there to get a feeling of the time beyond my textbook studies ... But before leaving on that trail Frank tells me about "Chimborazo" hospital which was erected by the Confederate Army on the hill of that strange name - it was named for Mount Chimborazo, an inactive volcano in Ecuador at nearly 21,000 feet of elevation studied by Alexander von Humboldt, of all people...) This hospital was originally a series of wooden army barracks left behind by Confederate soldiers after their training there ended and then turned into what was to become the largest hospital in the USA at that time. Today some placards remind of the hospital. http://www.nps.gov/rich/learn/historyculture/chimborazo.htm All along the trail I find history tables telling the stories of both the pilgrimage years and the Civil War, since the area around Richmond as the capital of the Confederacy was of such strategic importance that it was the scene of many severe and brutal battles. I will not depict the many details given on the history tables here, one or two might suffice to give an impression of the dozens of such informative tables which I came across. Halfway down the trail I met a gentleman on a roadbike who was doing a little daytrip on his own and was so interested in finding out more about my trip that he invited me to a lunch at the Cul's Courthouse Grille in Charles City. After a good rest and a very pleasant conversation I continued my tour and reached the Museum and Jamestown around 2:30. The ticket seller offered me a free entry for tomorrow if I wanted to get in today - they would close at 5 pm, which was too short for a comprehensive visit and of course I agreed. I looked at the Indian Powhatan Village with some guides in period clothes who demonstrated crafts of the Native American population and listened to a guide on the "Susan Constant", one of the three replica ships of the early 17th century. Later I met my warmshowers hosts for today, Debra and Camilla, who are not only wonderful hosts but have also done their share of cycling on a tandem. This year our paths may even have crossed, since they did their own slightly modified ACA Nothern Tier around the same time I did. They describe the tandem experience as very rewarding; each has her own specific task, they can talk while cycling and enjoy being together - what more can you want? Their balcony with a magnificent view of the James River near Jamestown is the perfect backdrop to a memorable foto: I have finished my tour!!!!!! After 7003,2 kilometers or 4352 miles over a total period of exactly 100 days from July 2, 2015 to October 6, 2015 - and 79 cycling days I have reached my goal even though technically the James River is not quite the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow I will have another good look at the historic triangle, this time together with my friends Omar and Tove and then I will return to Fairfax for another week of exploring the DC area ... For an overview of the Jamestown Settlement Museum, see http://www.historyisfun.org/
Day 78 - Fredericksburg, VA to Richmond, VA, 05.10.2015 These 108 km to Richmond today were much quieter than leaving DC / Fairfax yesterday. Backroads and quiet rural areas dominated until the highway into the city threatened but then I found (that is "komoot", my favourite German cycle navigation website, did 🙂 a trail going off the main road but relatively straight into Richmond since it followed a railroad track. On the road I met Ray Swartz and we both spontaneously stopped to talk. He's from California, doing a ten to twelve day trip from Richmond and along the C&O canal to Harper's Ferry. He is retired and obviously very busy doing cycling trips and writing tips about them on his website (www.biketouringtips.com). Richmond is the capital of Virginia and has a very long and interesting history. I decided after arrival not to look at the huge museum on the Civil War but instead headed for the small but - I was promised - rewarding "museum" on Edgar Alan Poe in 1914 East Main Street. But unfortunately it was closed, it was Monday afternoon .... By now it was too late to return to the Civil War museum on the other side of the city so I decided to do some sightseeing on the riverside of the James River. A new and culturally inspired path along the canal has been created. This canal enabled boatsmen to circumnavigate the waterfalls on the James River with the help of several locks within the city limits. More later ... Some pictures to give you an impression:
Day 77 - Fairfax, VA to Fredericksburg, VA, Oct. 4th, 2015
Good to be on the road again after three days of being pampered by my wonderful friends in Fairfax. First stop on my tour to the historic towns of Virginia: Fredericksburg ....
The route there was not particularly nice because there was no alternative but to take the "less travelled" highway as opposed to the Interstate - see image below.
Knowing about the battles in and around that city is one thing but seeing those places and landmarks plus watching a 20-minute documentary in the visitor's center is another. The town keeps its national heritage alive and even marks Confederate trenches and cannon sites in their originial places.
My first impression of my warmshowers hosts for tonight was a garage full of bicycles including two tandems! Bruce is active with the boyscouts and he regularly takes groups of boys on cycling tours. In summer 2014 a group of 10 boys between 15 and 18 plus 4 adults, rode from San Francisco, Stinson Beach, to Virginia Beach, VA in 64 days, accompanied by two vehicles. Among other things Bruce was so overwhelmed by the hospitality the whole group encountered with warmshowers hosts that he decided to give some of that back to the cycling community. So he and his wife hosted 68!! cyclists in 18 months. Wow, that's impressive. Fredericksburg is situated at a crossroad of cycling routes ...
The concept underlying this tour is interesting: the boys (all scouts) have to show a lot of dedication in the phase of preparation, they have to find their own funding through work (washing cars etc), they have to develop enough stamina on a bike to do not only 100 miles, but 200 miles in 24 hours, and they sign all those rules including the rule that they cannot back out at the last moment. Bruce sees all this as a wonderful way to develop the young people's personality - and I agree. The sense of achievement after the trip must be very rewarding indeed.
Finally, Bruce gave me the information about a recently opened cycling path from Richmond to Williamsburg, the Virginia Capital Trail, which I will take ....