I finally started riding today, and it feels great to have finally got the first miles under my belt. I set off from yorktown at about 6:30 and embarked on the colonial parkway to Jamestowne via Williamsburg. The early morning ride was beautiful with the sun coming up over the York river. I made good time to Williamsburg where I had breakfast at a pancake resturant. Fueled and rearing to go I set off … and found out what a navigational nightmare Williamsburg is fir cyclists – part of the main route through is a car only tunnel. To top it off just as I had got my bearings I had my first puncture of the trip. With that repaired I got under way again, but had to cope with a major detour to Jamestowne as the colonial parkway was closed.
I made good time from Jamestowne along a cyle trail to Charles city and then on roads to Glendale. The going was tough, the roads on this 40 mile streach are straight with limited shade, which made the 30 degree heat pretty unbearable. I had planned on staying in at the Willis Methodist church in Glendale which offers free accomodation to cyclists, however upon arrival it was pretty apparent that it was shut. This meant an extra 25 miles to Mechanicsville and the next accomodation on route. This brought the total distance for today’s ride to 91 miles – so much for an easy first day!
I had an interesting episode with a guy outside the garage in Glendale, he was very interested in how much my bike was worth / how much cash I was carrying, he then tried to lures
me into his mechanic’s, first by offering water then by offering drugs. I rode off in the wrong direction then doubled back on myself, just incase he tried to follow.
The ride to Mechanicsville was a good one, the temperature was dropping and the scenery was fantastic – a bit more interesting than the plantations leading into Charles city. I had to ditch my rear mudguard along this strech – I had been nursing it throughout the morning but had to call it a day when one of the stay attachments disintegrated! The pollen is out in force at the moment – the roads are covered in moss spores that cover everything with a green blanket. Strangely enough I haven’t developed hayfever – yet.
The area I went through today was steeped in colonial war history. Yorktown was the location of General Cornwallis’ defeat to American and French forces – a victory that led to American independance. Williamsburg is the largest restored 18th century town in the wold, whilst Jamestowne was the first permanent British settlement in Noth America. The ride from Jamestowne to Glendale is dominated by plantations. One of which (Sherwood Forrest was owned by 2 US presedents). The road from Glendale to Mechanicsville cover the area of the Seven Days Battles – a series of six major battles over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, during the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee drove the invading Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, away from Richmond and into a retreat down the Virginia Peninsula. Coldharbour just outside Mechanicsville was the sight of the battle of Coldharbour during which Gen. Ulysses Grant and his 50,000 men failed against Confederate forces, suffering 12,000 casualties in the process.
Tomorrow I plan on pressing on to Mineral, so hopefully that goes to plan.