Life On A B-I7

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TransAm Journal - Sun May 14, 2023

Day 5

Charlottesville VA, 24 miles

”Some days you feel good, some days you feel bad. Some moments you feel good, some moments you feel bad. It all depends on what gear you are in…”
— LifeOnaB17

Definitely a short day. My body isn’t ready for 50-60 mile days yet. I was following a couple on the internet that started the ride a month before I did. They were doing an average of 25 miles a day. We called them the “Christmas Couple.” (That’s when we estimated they would finish.) Sure enough, when they reached Illinois they rented a U-Haul, loaded up their bikes and that-was-that… At times I have a nagging doubt that I might be the “Thanksgiving Man.” I hope not.

I met a fellow back in Charles City (my first night out) that is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Main. He is planning to do the ride in under 50 days. He gave as his excuse that he has kids at home so he can’t be away for too long. He only did 80 miles the first day (he started a bit north of Yorktown). He said he would work up to 100 miles a day. He must be planning a couple of rest days because at the rate of 100 miles a day he would complete the ride in 42 days. One aspect of my ride compared to his made me very proud… He told me he was carrying the same solar charged battery bank that I was but he kept his in his pannier because he couldn’t figure out how to mount it on his handle bars, he was admiring what I had done to mount mine. Considering the source, you have to take that as a complement. That said, it will not be sufficient compensation if I end up renting a U-Haul…

Most cyclists (at least the ones I’ve run into so far) don’t stop to take in the historical landmarks. Virginia has no shortage of historical landmarks, that’s for sure. I’m going to have to come back and take in more! My objective today was to visit Monticello. Along the way I passed the home of James Monroe, I almost didn’t stop but it was early so I decided to pull in. (It’s a good thing I did, more on that in a bit.) I toured the grounds and remaining original structures. The actual home of Monroe burned down shortly after his death but the guest house he built while he was president is still standing. Monroe never planned to build there but he was good friends with Jefferson. When the 250 acres on the mountain near Jefferson came up for sale, Jefferson told Monroe to buy it and that’s how Monroe ended up there. On a clear days you can see Monticello from Monroe’s estate.

I wanted to tour Monticello but to do that I would have had to leave my bike on a bike rack at the visitor’s center and ride a shuttle a half-mile to the top of the mountain. There’s no way I was going to do that, so I will have to come back another time. Jefferson spent 40 years building Monticello, it was his life’s work (but not his only legacy). He referred to Monticello as “my essay in Architecture.”

Tomorrow I visit the “Cookie Lady” in Afton and reach the entrance (for this journey) to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’m nervous and excited. It’s going to be some tough riding.

With some luck, I’ll be in the Shenandoah Valley in two days. I’ll have to get over the Blue Mountains first…