Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 20, 2017, Tuesday. Williamsburg, Virginia

June 18, Sunday.  I neglected to mention in my last post that I had arrived at Fireflies On Bennett's Creek the afternoon before (June 17), right around 4:40pm.  I was thinking of moving on further down the road, but my friend Katie said that afternoon showers were frequent this time of year and this day was looking like one of those days, not to mention that I had stopped multiple times to shelter from passing torrential thunder showers.  Additionally, I was a bit thirsty and considered riding a bit more to pick up a beer before seeking a camp.  I am glad that I chose to stay and seek permission from Fireflies On Bennett's Creek instead of the more frequent, ask for forgiveness.

I waited for the patrons to thin out -I don't want to interrupt business- and entered the store.  A lady had asked how I may be helped and as I handed a card to her, I asked if I may make camp in the corner of the property.  She consulted with another lady and the answer was, and quickly I might add, yes.  They both showed me where I may pitch my tent, offered me the use of the boat dock, and sent me packin' with two bottles of pumpkin spice brew.  Thank you Fireflies On Bennett's Creek for your kindness and hospitality.

After making dinner and drinking the pumpkin spice beer, I accessed the web and logged into, a community of bicycle tour enthusiasts that, when not on tour, open up their homes to those cyclists on tour.  I learned about from a fella while at the Smallest Church in America back in South Carolina.  Y'all might remember him, Jan, aka "The Flying Dutchman" (I may have inadvertently referred to him as the "Lost Dutchman")  Here is a link to my post documenting my meeting with "The Flying Dutchman".   I prefer to rough it while crossing the country and have made it a point to stick to that, for the most part. However, I enjoy the freedom of meeting someone online and asking for permission to leave camp and Daisy while touring and photographing historic locations more thoroughly than just riding through town.  Williamsburg, VA seemed to be one of those locations that I could use some free time without my load to visit and shoot photos.

I found a location that stated that I was 47km away (not miles, kilometers.  I decided, for this tour, I would track kilometers traveled.  It seems that the majority of the world uses this measurement, and I have some very special folks following me that use it too.  I have all of my devices set to kilometers...or so I had thought.).  I reached out, asking for a few nights stating my intentions and was welcomed and invited for the following evening.

Back to this post (June 18, Sunday), I did a little breakfast fishing prior to packing up camp at Fireflies On Bennett's Creek.  I think I may have caught the same fish twice, so I kept the little guy and cooked it up for my girl dog.  Daisy enjoyed the fresh protein.

I started this days ride thinking that 47 kilometers to my destination would allow me plenty of time to piddle around and take my time with videos and photos.  This days route was a recommendation from my new friend Katie.  I am most thankful for the direction she offered and suggested.

Along Highway 258, just north of the town Benns Church, I found a Historical Marker and pulled in to investigate.  In the parking lot of St. Luke's Church Museum, I found some information markers about the site (these may be found in my photo album that I will include somewhere in this post).  The parking lot was empty, tours are either by appointment or at a time other than when I was there.  Either way, I didn't have the cash to spend on a tour.  I took photos of the house and hit the road to look for a back road into the grounds to locate this circa 1600's Church for all paths to it were blocked and locked.  There is, apparently, a conflict about the exact date for which the structure was built, either 1632 or 1682.  Y'all will have to Google it and decide for yourself. Here is a link to Historic St. Luke's Church, a video I made to help put it in perspective.  Notice that it is set back far from the road. It is peaceful, quiet, and impressive!

I found a round about and out-of-the-way path to this historic building, and I am glad that I risked my neck on gravel paths and dirt trails leading up to it.  I managed to get quite a few photos and videos that you will find in the single photo album that is linked to below.

The next notable attraction was the town of Smithfield, Virginia.  Here is a video clip of Daisy enjoying the sights and smells of Smithfield, Virginia.  I stopped in at a convenience store to use the hot water spigot on a coffee machine to make myself a cup of ramen noodles.  I figure I'll need the carbohydrates later on and the salt would replenish what I have been sweating out.

I wandered around Smithfield for an extended period of time, in part because I had made a wrong turn.  From an overpass, looking down at the road below, I had realized then that that was the road I needed to be on.  This added a few miles to the day for there was no on ramp to get to my route below.  Photos of Smithfield will be found in the one photo album, "Williamsburg, Virginia; our arrival.", somewhere below.

At some point along the way, I thought to call my host and ask for an address.  After plugging that address into my phone, I realized that I still had over 25 miles (not kilometers...miles) to go to arrive to his house!!!  WTH?!?  I had already traveled a considerable amount of miles.  I still haven't figured out how I had in my head 47km to travel to my destination (perhaps it was due to a route other than the one that I had planned on taking).  For those of you just tuning in, here is a little back ground on biking with a very large load and dog in tow.  25 to 30 miles per day is good mileage on a day to day basis, that is, if I wish to continue on the next day for an extended period of time.  By the days end, I will have traveled over 50 miles, the most I've traveled on any single day this tour thus far.

Back to the tour, I left Smithfield and rode on, taking Route 10.  I had to cool down along the way and took the opportunity to do a Facebook check-in.  I believe it was here that I also called my host and informed him of my predicament, that I may not make it as planned, and at this point I was pretty beat up.  Side and head winds were becoming stiff and steady, and even though today's route took me in many different directions, it struck me as improbable that I would have little or no tail wind.

I continued on along Route 10 and spotted a Dollar General at the intersection of Route 10 and 676.  I bought a half gallon of milk, and two cans of condensed milk, of which I consumed the entire half gallon of milk to help prevent cramping and to replace electrolytes the old fashioned way.  It was here that an intoxicated motorist proceeded to lecture me about scooting over to the right of the lane so traffic could attempt to squeeze between me and oncoming traffic in the immediate opposing lane. (There was no shoulder of any kind on this stretch or road).  I took his suggestion under advisement, held my tongue, and continued hugging the center line at times that it was obvious that it was unsafe for following cars to pass me.

From the Dollar General, I took the route 676, to the 628, and then the 617.  This is when I came across Bacon's Castle.  See the photo album guys.  This place is ridiculously cool and even more so, historic.  It was at this time that I noticed that a storm was brewing up, and grew ominous in the short time that I had been visiting the castle.  We arrived just at closing time, just in time to see the caretaker high tailing it home.  Daisy had a moment to graze a little and stretch her legs before it was time to hit the road again.  Check out these photos and the videos at My Channel on YouTube .  You won't be disappointed.  Please subscribe to my channel on YouTube to receive updates on new videos as they are uploaded, and give them a "thumbs-up" if you enjoy them.

The head winds were stiff leaving out the drive of Bacon's Castle onto Route 617 but I caught a second wind hoping to put the wind at my back at the next turn just a short distance ahead which put me back on Route 10.  Although I now had a wind in my favor, I found some hills, some of them quite steep.  They were not so much hills as they were steep declines leading down to waterways such as creeks, and corresponding steep ascents leading out of.  I have some great videos of me riding down blind runaway descents.  It was quite stupid on my part, to go into any decent, no matter how steep, with just one hand to steer and attend the front brake.  You can hear the wind drown out my voice as I filmed some of these scenes.

At one point, for one reason or another, I caught myself in the wrong gear for which to pedal out of a creek depression.  In order for me to shift down to my lowest gear, a granny gear, I must free my right shoe cleat from the pedal, shift to the lowest gear with left hand while kicking the chain over to the smallest front chain ring.  Now, I find myself stuck with no momentum and rapidly decelerating, well into blind corner and very much on a steep ascent in the wrong gear.  I disengaged my cleats from both pedals, dismounted my bike just as it came to a stop and before rolling backwards, and pushed it as close as possible to the side of the road.  Absolutely no shoulder existed, and looking back, no more than 40 yards of visibility existed down the road behind me.  Drivers coming around this blind turn would have very little time to pull their head out as they approach from my rear, and in fact, two cars were near misses.  I reached down with my right hand, the left on the brake and left foot as a wheel chock to prevent my rig from rolling backwards, and manually placed the chain on the smallest chain-ring.  Getting started once again was a neat trick and thankfully I did it without turning around and using the downhill momentum to get me rolling.  I powered up the remaining incline at a snail pace, in fact, a person could walk up at a faster pace than I rode up.

A lot of torque is being applied to the rear sprocket and wheel assembly on ascents such as this, and great care must be taken while standing on the cranks to create a steady continuous thrust.  Merely standing on the cranks on the down strokes will create intermittent thrust and subsequently bounce the trailer, rocking it back and forth.  Daisy, sitting high over the trailer axle in her crate, will feel this pronounced rocking motion and stand up, making the trailer bounce even more compounding the effect.  I had to get short with her to get her to lay down to reduce this sometimes inevitable bounce. This rocking motion will create rapid wear and weaken an already worn trailer hitch. (This will make sense in a later post, for as I type this on June 29th, I am still waiting on a new hitch to arrive.)

At this point in the day, I am amazed that I haven't started cramping up yet, and seriously consider making camp at the Chippokes Plantation State Park.  I still had ten miles or more to arrive at my destination and at my current rate, daylight would become an issue.  After remembering my disappointing stay at Chesapeake Campground, and the fact that my cash reserve has severely dwindled since that stay, I chose to push on.

I arrived at the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry at such a time that it seemed that they were waiting for me.  (Here is a video of my approach to the Ferry)  They closed the gates behind me and I propped my bike up against the railing and secured it.  I had a short breather while crossing the James River and shot some video and photos along the way.  Check out my YouTube video at Jamestown-Scotland Ferry and the others videos while you are there.

When the ferry hit dock at the other side of the river, I shot some photos of a young bird (huge bird) nesting on a huge pier pillar while the automobiles disembarked from the ferry.  I followed the line of cars heading towards Williamsburg, Virginia, when I noticed a "Welcome" sign.  I continued my break for I am still quite exhausted, and take the opportunity to shoot selfies with Daisy in my other arm.  Cars that were heading the opposite way to board the now empty ferry stopped, rolled down their windows to comment on our special moment and photo shoot.  Daisy, as you can see in the photo album, became distracted and nearly jumped from my arm while shooting pix.

I still had 45 minutes to travel, and after calling my host (Nick O'Connel President of Animal Rescue Flights A.R.F.) to inform him of my whereabouts and ask for shortest route in to his house.  He advised me to take the scenic route, a parkway, that would only add 10 minutes or so.  Immediately, that translates to 20 minutes or more of additional travel and I quickly set the recommendation aside and rode straight into Willimsburg on the 31 and the 5.

There were a few more hills and were dreadful after such a long day.  I suspect that I gained a third wind to arrive by nightfall.

I arrived and met with Nick O'Connel.  He promptly offered to allow me to put my entire rig inside a utility portion of his home. The trailer would not fit.  I parked my rig in the side yard, removed Daisy and we introduced her to Maggie and Enzo, Nick's beautiful rescued dogs.  After Daisy was comfortable in this new environment, Nick held the flashlight while I disconnected trailer and brought the bike, panniers, and duffel bags inside.  It was at this time that I noticed my rim rubbing against the brake shoes.  It was out of true and substantial drag kept the wheel from spinning freely.  OMG!  I have been riding for who knows how long with an untrue rim.  My heart sank. Here is the video of my wheel.  It was my intention with this video, to share how I struggled on this particular day.  Cross country riding is hard on equipment.  Spoke repairs and truing rims is part of the struggle. Just ask anyone who has taken on such a task.  Ask them also what they carry in their inventory for on the road repairs.  I carry a pound or glue, a pound of patches, and a pound of spokes.  ;-)  A spoke wrench comes in handy too!!

I want to say that I received a call, very quickly, from my sponsor, Intelligent Design Cycles.  They stated emphatically that normally they would replace the wheel free of charge within the one year warranty period, and offered to do so now.   They have never received word of any problems in the past with their "Stout" line of wheels, not one broken spoke.  Since I had already spent the money on the repairs, they offered to send me the money for the rim/wheel repairs in addition to the offer of a new "Stout Wheel".  I made it clear that I appreciate their sponsorship, and that I had been abusing this "Stout Wheel" from the start.  I have not met anyone towing a load even remotely close to the one I place on this "Stout Wheel" by Intelligent Design Cycles. The videos I have shared here on this blog of some of the runaway downhill descents clearly show irresponsibility and abuse on my part.  The one thing I can say, "After 1,500km of travel, nearly1,000 miles, this Stout Wheel is amazing and has far exceeded all expectations I held for it!!"  I have crossed the country before, and unless I become a greasy spot on the road side, I will do so again....on this "Stout Wheel"!  Thank you for your support Intelligent Design Cycles!

Nick and I sat down after he offered me a very cold beer in a very frosty mug.  What a delight that was.  We had a wonderful chat and shared touring experiences, my actual experiences, and from Nick, what he has experienced through hosting tour riders crossing the country or the state or both, for Nick is not a cyclist.

By complete chance, I asked Nick if he knew my friend and East Coast Tour rider, Jan aka "The Flying Dutchan".  What do you know..."The Flying Dutchman" stayed a night or two with my new friend and dog rescuer Nick O'Connel!!  What a coincidence!!  Here is a link to my post documenting my meeting with "The Flying Dutchman"  We sat down for a dinner that he held off for my arrival and we had a delicious ravioli with vodka sauce, side of asparagus, and generous portions of red wine.  We had such a great time chatting and sharing touring experiences and dog rescue missions, it was after 1a.m. that we finally retired for the night.

June 19, 2017, Monday.  Nick offered to let me take his spare vehicle to the bike store, where I decided to pay for spoke replacement, and have the rim trued.  The spoke that broke, most certainly due to overloading, and excessive and abusive down hill speeds, was on the drive side, or the side with the cassette which requires the removal of the cassette for replacement.  While I was at the bike store, I replaced spokes that I had used up for earlier repairs.  See my Vanceboro post where I replaced two trailer spokes and inadvertently damaged one of my trailer wheels.

I returned to the house and and spent some time on the computer writing, posting to social media, and reaching out to local media, both paper and TV.

If you have not yet noticed, I have not posted mileage for the past two days.  This is because the wonderfully expensive cycle computer, my brand new Catyeye Padrone, has failed completely.  I have since purchased a replacement computer, I only have to locate the new computer in my belongings and install it.

June 20, 2017, Tuesday.  Today I woke up early and assembled the photo albums, links, and wrote the previous blog.  I finished it around 2pm if memory serves me correctly.

I put my bike back together, removed my very expensive and non functioning Cateye Padrone cycling computer and installed my new WalMart Bell Brand computer.  I am very pleased with this arrangement.  I can't imagine where I will have to ship this non-functioning computer to, to have it warrantied or how long it will take to get returned, and not to mention if they will even warranty it. I am having little luck in finding ANY bike store that will exchange it.

My tour and subsequent photos of Williamsburg will be on the next post!  Subscribe to my blog via email and receive it in your email when it is completed!

Here is my photo album for this time period.
PHOTO ALBUM: Williamsburg, VA, our arrival.

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