Day 1: Culpeper Chili Coma

by James

Tuesday was a frantic scramble to get our stuff in order for this morning’s big leave. After scooping Mike from his Mclean cheteau, the two of us skittered around Reston tying up loose ends; this included: getting Tang1 and other bare necessities from Giant, searching for a 1” crescent wrench (futile), and taking inventory of our gear in typical J&M style (read: primitively disorganized).

Of course, the centerpiece of our final preparation was running around in a Jurassic Park-style bog in Springfield after drinking a substantial volume of beer.

After returning, sopping wet and smelling faintly like a liberal-arts dorm, Mike and I stripped down to our skivvies and began to pack while drying off, still fairly buzzed and keeping the company of Scoob and Mike’s friend, Sam, both members of the bog-expedition.

Around 3AM, we were packed and ready to turn in for four hours of sorely needed shuteye.

The horrible packing
The horrible packing.

Seconds later, my cell-phone alarm is doing its impression of a Baghdad firefight and claiming the time to be 7AM. Daylight corroborated, so I got up and meandered upstairs. Momma-dukes was in the kitchen whipping up a breakfast to please a prince and, when I said “hi,” I could’ve sworn that my voice had slipped away in the night to go party with Charlie Sheen.

I met Mike outside my room, after he’d accidentally busted in for a peek at my bum as I was changing into my bike shorts, and what he uttered epitomized the last 12 hours perfectly: “why must we do things this way?” I replied something in Ape and we both shuffled upstairs for The Breakfast To End All Breakfasts.

The Count

While Mike and I were playing peekaboo downstairs, Scoob2 had showed up and was munching happily at the kitchen table. We took a seat next to him and devoured the morning-time treats that Ma had laid out for us. Mike’s mom and Will Bartlett showed up shortly thereafter and we all finished breakfast.

Breakfast at Mom's
Wonderful breakfast.

Sendoff part 1 commenced and we left Reston with Will B. in tow.

After appalling Mike and Will with a convoluted ride to Dad’s compound, we gained an adjustable crescent wrench and I said my goodbyes to Dad, Deb, and Willie. I’ve gotta admit that after seeing my family off, I was a little choked up.

Leaving Dad's
Sendoff from Dad's.

The trip was now in full swing. We barreled across Herndon and hit 7100 southbound, Russ Chimes3 blaring out of the weather-proof boombox strapped to my front rack and our stomachs coated in buttery gold. Lacking the weight of gear necessary for a cross-country trip, Will B. led the way.

We passed through Chantilly and then Centreville without event. Manassas came and went, as did Bristow. We stopped briefly at a Wendy’s (this being about two hours after we left Mom’s, ~11AM) and chowed down some hot, cheap grease.

As we were riding down 28 at a good clip, I said something to the effect of, “alright! heading down 28 three-abreast!” and Will replied wryly in non sequitur: “One thing I don’t think you’ll ever hear a rapper say is, ‘rollin’ down the street/three-abreast’. It’d have to be ‘three-deep,’ man.”

Will B cruising 28
Will B leading the pack on 28.

When we hit the outskirts of Nokesville, we took a break next to the entrance of a farm and Will had to turn around. He had work at three, it was about 11:30AM, and he was 30 miles away from Vienna. We said our goodbyes and he split backwards.

Side of 28
I ate two hamburgers and a bag of trail mix here.

Mike and I continued on down 28, enjoying the bucolic, empty green fields and cozy farm houses. It’s impressive how quickly you get into Real Virginia heading south from NoVA.

Mike and the wildlife
Mike, meet SoVA.

We eventually stopped in a small town called Remington because… well, it was the first small town we’d hit and so were pretty much obliged to check it out. Plus, Mike was hungry and I’m confident he was beginning to fantasize about French omelettes.

We parked our bikes in a lot behind the most bustling place in the town, a generic deli, and Mike went in to refill our waterbottles. Mike returned and we guided our behemoth cycles over to an empty lot across the street, where we would cook omelettes and drink haphazardly mixed Tang. When we intially opened foodbag1, we found that, as predicted by Dan Carvajal4 at our sendoff party, some of the foam-protected eggs had cracked and there was a gooey, sticky grit-soup spread throughout the bag.

Good spirits.

After cleaning up, we made our way out of Remington and down into Culpeper. We were at approximately 55 miles at this point, the time about 2:30PM, and I was getting winded. On entering Culpeper, I spotted a Starbucks and fanatically swerved into the parking lot. The two of us cozied up to two of the artsy chairs proverbial of Starbucks and I retrieved two Frappachinos5, courtesy of the gift card Dad had given me earlier in the morning. We sat for about an hour, enjoying the furniture and making plans for material we needed to pick up in town. I felt for the staff; here were two sweaty, unkempt twenty-somethings clad in goofy biker clothes and crashing on their furniture. I feel even more so for the ottoman we used. Regardless of whatever suspicions I have, the ladies working there were very nice to us.

Ideal country road
We expected heavy rain, but it ended up being a beautiful day.

Mike finally pried me off of the post-modern ‘bucks furniture and we got to moving again, this time towards a bike shop in downtown Culpeper. By this point, my legs were pretty fed up with this ridiculous circular-motion business and were performing the bare minimum.

After driving through downtown Culpeper looking like maniacs and blasting Sleigh Bells, we arrived at the local bike shop and picked up the remaining bike parts needed.

Finally, we set out for Sue’s house. Sue is Mike’s grandmother and kind enough to put us up for the night. The last ten miles out to the farm were relatively brutal, as the elevation profile will show. I came in panting like a wounded dog; the odometer read 71 miles.

Toward Sue's
On the way to Sue's through Culpeper.

Sue greeted us warmly from the porch of the house and told us that we could expect chili and cornbread later on. Needless to say we were delighted. Also needless to say, we were stinky, so after admiring her Alpaca pen for a while, we moved the bikes indoors and changed clothes.

After changing, we met Laura & Chris. Laura is Sue’s daughter and Chris is Laura’s husband. They have two adorable girls about kindergarten age. One of them hid behind Laura bashfully as we were introduced.

The promised chili was delivered shortly thereafter. Mike and I sat on the couch, talking to all the members in the house, happily spooning down chili and cornbread, and passively watching Looney Tunes reruns. Before dinner, Chris handed Mike and I a Beck’s each. Nothing makes one appreciate a single, cool beer like sun.

Now here I am, in the three-bedded room Mike and I have been generously loaned, enjoying a mattress and feeling the pulse of fresh sunburn.

I was going to use this first Daily to wax philosophic; I was going to pontificate about the trip’s major role in the formation of my character and the luxury of reduced abstraction. But right now, my skin is slathered in sun and my stomach is entertaining Culpeperean chili, so I’ll trade the dime-store philosophy for a hot shower.

  1. for readers just tuning in, we’re adults. Really.

  2. aka Kevin Christensen

  3. heavy electronic music

  4. probably in a drunken rage.

  5. my first coffee with sugar in years!

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