Day 2: Deathmarch to Charlottesville

by James

Despite a wonderful send-off from Sue, Laura, and Chris, today was a considerably harder bike than yesterday.

After cleaning our food-bag, practicing hygiene (a soon-to-be rarity), and eating a healthy breakfast cooked by Sue, we packed and shipped out. Whenever I get the pictures from Sue, I’ll upload them to the flickr.

Shortly after leaving Sue’s, Mike led the two of us down one of his signature short-cuts, which had us biking down a gravel road for a few miles.

If you ever find yourself on a bicycle, I would highly recommend avoiding gravel. When you hit, let’s say, a hill on a gravel road, it’s not a good idea to break, since you lose traction, but it’s also not a good idea to not break because you pick up speed. When you pick up speed, the gravel shifts your weight rapidly, and you end up wobbling more than a sorority girl on Mardi Gras. Mike opted for the wobbling and almost ate it, which would have been considerably less fun than Mardi Gras.

We escaped the gravel and got back onto a civilized roadway, 15. 15 was fine for a while, but then we began to hit a few no-joke hills: a precursor of things to come.

Then we hit hills. Then we hit more hills.

Let me get straight to the point: my day was an iteration of the following process:

  1. Approach the crest of a very steep, very lengthy downward slope. “Wow, I’m about to go really fast. This is awesome.”
  2. Bike towards the slope. Begin to go down it. Gravity works. Shift up. Shift up. “Wow, I’m going really fast.” Life is great, the wind is blowing through my hair in slow motion, and California Dreamin’ is playing.
  3. The downward slope bottoms out. I see the ridiculous grade I’m about to climb. I begin to wonder if pavement roller-coasters were one of the public-works projects included in the New Deal.
  4. Cringe. Shift up. Shift up. Shift up. Talk to myself in my head encouragingly. ”I’m going to keel over and die on this hill.”
  5. GOTO 1

The whole time, there was this sort of dialogue going on between my body and mind:

Mind: PEDAL. PEDAL, DAMMIT! The hell happened to the computer gig, O’Berine!?

Body: YAA-OUCH! Okay. Okay. We’ll play your little game. Oops, did I trip that pain signal in your thigh? Aww, that must be awful. Here: let me blur your vision a little.

This went back and forth and back and forth until I began to suspect that Sartre had invaded my subconscious and was writing another shitty play.

After 46 miles of terror (Mike loved it), we got to Charlottesville and parked our bikes on the pedestrian mall. That’s a really cool stretch of Charlottesville, and I encourage anyone down there to check it out. Charlottesville has an engaging urban vibe to it. Even just biking through the streets was a refreshing change from the rest of RoVA1 (though the hills were still around and daunting as ever).

Eventually, we met up with Mike’s uncle Dan and his daughter Hannah. We got dumplings with them and detailed our misadventures so far. They were very receptive and extremely pleasant to talk to.

Eventually, we parted ways with Dan and Hannah (Dannah?) and found a coffee shop to crash in. CVille has some swanky coffee shops.

After lounging in arm chairs for a good forty-five minutes, we decided to split. As we were packing up, an older black cop came up to us and inquired very casually about our trip (“to California? You gotta be shitting me!”), shook our hands three times, and then left. Bewildered but pleased with a positive encounter with the police, Mike and I left.

We then got onto 250W for, you guessed it, more hills. The remainder of the ride is a blur for me because it was all GOTO 1 and I was all kinds of screwed up. After 15 miles or so, we found a small stretch of woods that backed up to some kind of public school. Mike waltzed into the school, encountered no opposition, and filled our waterbottles. We then set up camp in the woods, and no one has bothered us yet, misquitos aside.

Mike’s odometer read 61 miles as we were setting up tent.

It’s Hawaiian Thursday here at Ad Hoc Adventure Time, so Mike is cooking up Spam, pineapple, and rice. If I don’t collapse before then, I might get to taste some.

  1. Rest of Virginia. Thanks, Jeff

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