Williamsburg to Richmond International Airport to Home. November 1, 2019

Yesterday, as we were squinting into the east, I made a note to self. “Do not head east in the last week of Daylight Savings Time before 9 a.m. So this morning, we didn’t. In fairness, it wasn’t planned: the Lodge serves a very nice buffet breakfast, but there are servers, and bills to deal with. It’s not the usual help yourself to whatever you want whenever you feel like it at the usual places we stay.

The doorman took our picture. We wanted to remember that on November 1, we were able to start riding in shorts and fingerless gloves. It clouded up a little as we headed southwest to Jamestown on Jamestown Road. Like every place that is vibrant and growing, the ‘Burg has really become both more dense and more spread out than we remember. So many more bike lanes and trails. Rolfe Road, where Ludwell Dorms were (are?), used to seem way off campus. Now it’s not.

At 10 a.m., we turned onto the Capital trail toward Richmond. We had a new plan. Roy had googled rental cars at the Richmond International Airport. The airport is only 52 miles from Williamsburg mostly via the Capital Trail. We decided to head for the airport and drive home today.

The trail was just as lovely today, and we had the advantage of knowing what to expect.

Hmm. Not sure about the color combo, but bare arms in November, nice.

The Bicycling in Virginia map has elevation profiles for various trails. The profile for the Washington and Old Dominion trails waves up and down–not a lot, but it waves. The elevation profile for the Virginia Capital Trail is a straight level line. Yesterday we were surprised when we used every gear we had. Maybe it would seem flatter without a load. Like the W&OD, it seems to be used largely by locals who want a safe, fun, pretty place to ride. We saw one tourist today, but we saw several locals going out and coming back and several repeaters from yesterday.

A couple on a tandem who were wearing RATS jerseys (Richmond Area Tandem Society) recommended that we eat at Cul’s Courthouse Grille in Charles City Courthouse. So we did. It was another fun and funky place full of cyclists, who apparently ride out there to eat or park there, ride their ride, and then return to eat. When asked for recommendations, the owner asked where we were in our ride. Certain dishes he deemed too heavy for mid-ride digestion. Very thoughtful.

The tandem couple arrived after we did and gave us the lowdown on the Grille. The owners bought it in 2009 before the trail was completed. They had to hang on for quite awhile, but now the place is busy. The owners recently bought a nearby house and intend to turn it into a bed and breakfast for cyclists. It’s about 20 miles from Jamestown (26 from Williamsburg) and about 32 from Richmond.

The ladies room was a surprise.

A skeleton was drinking a can of this beer. We don’t know if it is a special label for a fundraiser or a real thing.

The historic Charles City County Courthouse is being restored.

After lunch, the SSW winds had picked up. We had to put our jackets back on. The wind made the hills seem steeper and longer. We had 26 miles to go, about 21 on the trail and 5 on roads. The roads were surprisingly manageable. We got to the airport by about 3:30, and were on the road, dressed in street clothes, with bikes in back, a little after 4.

We had to stop for ice cream on the way back.

This turned out to be dinner, unless you count the excellent peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that Roy assembled once we arrived home.

The rental car is returned, clothes are being washed, and we are looking forward to a bonus day at home tomorrow.

Thanks for following our mini-adventure.

If you are a cyclist, go ride the Virginia Capital Trail. It’s great.


Richmond to Williamsburg (perfect day)

Today was one of those days when you are glad to be alive. A perfect fall day, high of 71 degrees, and the winds were mostly tailwinds.

Leaving our hotel in downtown Richmond,

We ran into Mary Poppins. Marie said “It’s Halloween.” I am so sorry not to have a picture, because she WAS Mary Poppins. I was just nonplussed, didn’t event think of taking a picture.

We only had a mile or so to get to the bike path trail head, but we got a chance to ride some pavé (shades of Paris-Roubaix)

The area around the trail head is all old factories being redeveloped into upscale urban housing, retail, etc.

The sun was in our faces, going east. See how long the shadows are.

Well, this path is just awesome. 55 miles of not sharing the road with logging trucks, cement mixers, gravel trucks, etc. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves:

There is really only one place on the path that you can stop for lunch, and that is near Charles City. There are two places to eat, and we picked the best one, The Indian Field Tavern. All the artwork inside was bicycle-related.

Marie may want to show you the different parks we visited but I want to show you where we met 49 years ago: In front of the Governor’s Mansion in Williamsburg.

One of the relentlessly amazing things about this trail is that they state that it covers 400 years of history. In many places, they have to put up several historical markers in the same place- with colonial, revolutionary war and civil war events all being covered.

I want to come back and tour all the plantations, read all the signs, visit all the sites mentioned….but I’ll need to be on a motorcycle because I’m only going to be able to cover 50 miles and there will be no time for riding. Fortunately, today the riding was sublime, and the winds were tailwinds, so it was pretty nice. We saw a fair number of cyclists on the path, most of whom greeted us. We were the only tourists.

Pulling into the ‘burg, as we used to call it, we Googled hotels and there were lots of them, some showing room rates of $56. The Governors Inn, a CW property, how bad could it be? Prudently, though, I asked to inspect the room first before committing. Ok, in 1962 this room was state-of-the-art, and Marie said, without enthusiasm, it will do, but I guess I’m spoiled now. We high-tailed it over to the Williamsburg Lodge and got ourselves a decent room, for less than what we paid in Richmond last night.

Dinner at the Blue Talon in CW was the best dinner of the trip. Wednesday they serve ciopino, which had massive slabs of fish, shrimp, scallops and vegetables in it. Maybe the best ciopino I have ever had. For dessert, our waiter Chris talked us into tasting the sweet potato ice cream with bacon & pecan crumbles. Ok, it was different, and it was still ice cream, but I think plain old chocolate, or just about anything, would have been better.

We are going to ride back to Richmond tomorrow, to get full usage out of this beautiful bike trail, Then we’ll rent a car and drive back home in the rain on Friday. I do admit, we are getting a little tired. It’s 8:30 and Marie is already zonked out. I feel really good about getting this trip in before the weather really gets cold and wintry. Sunny fall days are the best, and you know there aren’t many more of them, which makes them even more precious.

Additional thoughts

I’m adding these thoughts mostly to practice posting. One gets rusty when one is not posting daily. First, I apologize for the lack of pictures. It’s cold so I’m wearing winter gloves, and that means I can’t just whip my phone out of my pocket, select the camera app, take the picture, and carry on without stopping. Stopping and de-gloving is tedious.

Yesterday’s route was perfection. Lightly travelled back roads with extremely polite traffic. Today we will be on a bike path the entire way, so traffic should again not be a concern. You can see from our road construction vests that we are a little bit paranoid about traffic. Tom Hollowell’s recent death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver is weighing on my mind. I coached his son in youth soccer many years ago. So we are making ourselves as visible as possible, even running our flashing taillights in the daytime. Although, if the driver is looking at his phone, it doesn’t matter how visible you are.

I felt like yesterday we finally got in the groove. 60 miles (our average riding distance on our 2015 cross-country ride) would have been no problem.

Richmond has installed some bike lanes in the center city that resemble the on on L Street in Washington, DC. That is to say, they constitute the extreme left lane of a one-way street, with a row of parked cars to our right, then a travel lane, then another row of parked cars. That’s fine until you come to an intersection and cars turn left while bikes attempt to go straight. I suppose there is no perfect solution to designing city streets for vehicle sharing.

I’ll try to take more pictures today.

October 30, 2018. Thornburg to Richmond, VA

Today’s headline is what an awesome day! Everything was perfect: weather, route, our moods.

At breakfast Marie grabbed a Bicycling in Virginia, Official State Bicycle Map. What a difference seeing the big picture makes. We looked at Bicycle Route 1 and compared it to the East Coast Greenway (which is not on the Virginia map). We could see that Route 1 was slightly longer, but there were zero miles on US Highway Route 1. The Greenway had 6.6 total miles on US 1. So we opted for 57 miles on BR 1 instead of 52 on the Greenway. (That being said, there was probably about 50% overlap between the routes.)

Ride with GPS has a new-to-us feature where you can choose the map view that you want. If you choose OSM Cycle (OSM stands for Open Street Maps), you can see the East Coast Greenway and the national Bike Routes (mostly Adventure Cycling routes) on the same map. It is easy to compare those routes and map a known route or variation. I just learned this fact this week. So I (Marie) mapped a new route to Richmond in minutes and loaded in on my phone. I gave Roy the actual map.

The map and coffee were the best parts of breakfast. The eggs were like yellow pancakes and there was no real oatmeal. There were the standard make your own waffles and the breakfast lady was very personable.

We left at 8:45. It’s considerably brisker at that hour, than almost 10 a.m. But the sun was shining and there wasn’t much traffic after we crossed I-95 (less than a mile fromthe hotel). Squinting into the sun, we headed east to pick up our route. Lo and behold, it was identical to the Suicide Prevention ride route from the point we picked it up.

I even pointed out the yard where several members of our groups used a port-a-potty in a yard, not realizing it was a family outhouse. Last year the owner came and talked to our group about chickens, of which he had a fair number, and his family. This year, all was quiet. No owner, no chickens, and we didn’t stop.

Every turn was marked with a USBR Route 1 sign, although some of the markings were after the turn.

We saw a lot of these dried plants that looked like some kind of pea or bean. Are they soybeans?

We went off route for half a mile to visit a grocery store to stock up in case lunchtime came before a restaurant appeared and to take advantage of their sanitary facilities.

I suggested to the proprietor that she put a sign up on the bicycle route telling cyclists that they were only half a mile off the route. She said “Oh we get plenty of cyclists.” I remarked that they must be using their phones to find her, because without them, we would not have known to look for the Caroline Supermarket. When we were leaving, the only other tourists we have seen on this trip, turned into the parking lot. Three cyclists, heading north.

We went by the huge stables at the top of a steep hill that amazed us all last year. The descents to creek (river?) crossings were thrilling and the climbs out of them were quite a slog.

No pictures, but a lot of the rural homes have gone all out with Halloween decorations. This raised the question about trick-or-treating in the country. Does someone drive the kids from house to house? It seems like a little one couldn’t walk more than the distance to say two neighbors. A lot of the churches seem to be sponsoring Halloween parties, so maybe that is part of the answer.

Assisted by the climbs and the bright sunshine, the day continued to warm up. After 40 miles, we were in Ashland. We had lunch at Suzanne’s Bakery and Cafe, where the SP ride ate last year. It was just as cute and just as good.

After lunch, we were approached by a gentleman of a certain age, asking about our travels. It turned out he was a retired William and Mary Business School professor, Bill O’Connell. We had a great conversation about how times have changed. When we were in school, taking business courses was definitely uncool and almost politically incorrect. Only football players and frat guys took business courses. Now it’s hard to get into any business school. He graduated from W&M law school in 1974 (taking classes part time while he was teaching) and decided that there is no better preparation for law school than business courses. He still lives in Williamsburg, has bicycled “half” of the Virginia Capital Trail, and is a train buff. He didn’t say so, but we assumed, based on his discussion of where to sit in each direction between Ashland and Williamsburg so that the sun won’t shine in one’s eyes, that he had taken the train there and was waiting for a return train. We probably spent almost as much time talking to him as we did in the restaurant.

In the sun it was almost balmy after lunch. In the shade, it was still chilly. The 18 mostly flat miles to Richmond went by quickly. I have to say, it wasn’t until Ashland that we saw our first Tim Kaine political signs.

When we went by Glen Allen Center for the Arts, a show featuring the Capitol Steps was being advertised. We stopped at the corner where Jenn, Robin and I split off from the SP group. The rest of the route was new to me.

We are staying in the Homewood Suites by Hilton. We were trying to find the Hampton Inn, which, it turns out, is in the same high rise building, but the Hampton Inn has no street presence. You have to know to go in office building doors that appear to be the entrance to a post office. Around the street corner (and actually up one floor) is the reception for the Homewood Suites. To get to your room, you tell the touch screen at the bank of elevators what floor you are going to, and it assigns you to one of 4 elevators, which then whisks you directly to your floor. When we went out to dinner, we were confused when the touch screen asked us whether we wanted to go to the Homewood Suites lobby or the Hampton Inn lobby. That’s when we realized part of what was going on. After dinner, we did some exploring, found the Hampton reception desk, and were able to take the same bank of elevators to our floor.

We had dinner at the Capital Ale House, just a few hundred feet from the hotel. We split the biggest pretzel we’d ever seen for an appetizer.

Roy is busy giving legal advice to various clients. Tomorrow we head to Williamsburg.

October 29, 2018. Dumfries to Thornburg, VA

We left at the crack of 9:30, after attempting several more blog posts this morning. We are reconciling ourselves to the fact that at our current fitness levels, 50 miles is a good day. Today we did about 48, and it took us all day, well if a day ends at 3:45, which it did.

The first part of our day was along Route 1, which had side paths for a good ways, especially when we were in the vicinity of Quantico. After we turned off Route 1, several of the roads seemed reminiscent of the Suicide Prevention Ride that Robin, Jenn, and Marie accompanied Lynn on for two days last September.

Roy says our reflective vests blend with the foliage. That was not our intent.

We entered Fredericksburg a different way from last year, so we never saw Amy’s Cafe in Falmouth. We ate at the Colonial Tavern, Home of the Irish Brigade. We had barbecue, which turned out to be a lunch special, so the entire bill came to $13, including tax. We left Sarah a nice tip.

At lunch (28 miles under our belts), we decided we didn’t have 30 or 40 more miles in us. So Thornburg was our destination. We could have gotten here in 12 miles, but we opted for a 20 mile route. Going through Fredericksburg and up that hill on Route 1 was memorable.

We went through Spotsylvania Courthouse, which seems to have a lot of Civil War memorials, but we couldn’t remember if we ever knew why. A logging truck crossed an intersection in front of us in Spotsylvania Courthouse, but fortunately we didn’t encounter any other logging trucks on the road.

The three pictures above were taken from the same spot while waiting for the light to change. Notice the varied weather.

We are ensconced in the Best Western Plus in Thornburg. It has free laundry facilities, which is a first in all of our travels, except when staying with friends. We dined at Poco Loco Mexican Restaurant. The 3/10 mile walk was challenging since there are no sidewalks along Route 606. We wore our reflective safety vests. Our waitress was Sara, without an h. Food always seems great on a bike trip.

Turkey vultures were everywhere this morning. Fortunately, we were not their meal of choice.


The Motorcycle Factory, where our son bought his first one. Strange to get there on a bicycle.
Guess where


Gravelly Point


Runners across the River. We saw people with “Finisher” medals walking on our trail

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