Sunday, 13 May 2012

Charlottesville, VA

Lewis & Clark statue, Charlottesville (also Sacagawea, not visible in photo)
The Whistle Stop B&B in Louisa is right by the railway track and whenever the long trains go past, the whole building shakes. I'm glad to say there were only three trains during the night. Breakfast was at 8am, after which I was waved off from the front porch by Trecia and guests Steve and Gene. Instead of rejoining the official TransAm route, I took a more direct way to Charlottesville, on Route 22 and US 250 (50 km). This being Sunday, the traffic was quite light. I did this to minimise the mileage as I have developed a saddle sore, the most effective cure for which is rest off the bike. I am hoping that stopping at 12 noon yesterday and only cycling for a few hours today counts as resting. I am also taking other measures recommended on the internet and trying a couple of products I bought from Joe at the Louisa pharmacy. I had been using a chamois cream but it didn't do the job. I suspect the trouble started at Glendale on Thursday. Although on arrival there I washed as well as I could, there was no shower available. Here in Charlottesville I have put all my cycling clothes through a washing machine to clean them thoroughly.

Jefferson and his Rotunda, University of Virginia
Charlottesville is a bigger town of some 45,000 people. It is home to the University of Virginia and has an attractive pedestrian mall downtown. It has bike lanes on major streets in the centre and public buses with racks on the front to carry bikes, as in Canberra. I'm posting a couple of pictures of the university's Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson. I was told the black crepe around the capitals does not indicate a death; it is to protect against erosion.

Inside the Rotunda
I've had four days of fine weather cycling. The forecast for the next two days, as I cross the Blue Ridge mountains, is rain and thunderstorms. I discussed the prospects with the man who served me at a morning Gatorade stop, one of his customers (who cycled the Southern Tier twenty years ago), and the desk manager at the inn I'm staying in tonight. The consensus is that adverse weather occurs most often in the afternoons, that storms usually last only an hour or so, that the Blue Ridge is not so exposed that if caught up there in an electrical storm I would be unable to find temporary shelter, and that the Blue Ridge Parkway (which runs along the ridge line) would be a better cycling experience than following the valley on the far side (if I were to go over the pass at Rockfish Gap and descend to Waynesboro).

Presidents 3, 4, and 5, City Hall, Charlottesville
The top of the Blue Ridge is about 1,000 m above sea level, so I have some major climbing to do. I can't ride 40 km to where the steep part starts, get to the top, ride another 40 km along the undulating ridge, and descend to Vesuvius in a single day. My main options for accommodation tomorrow night are (1) Afton, about 45 km from here, on the way up at an elevation of 400 m. It has no services except for a cyclist-only lodging run by 'The Cookie Lady', June Curry, who has been welcoming TransAm cyclists since 1976. She is now in her 90s and the contact telephone number I have is not operational. This link has some information from eight days ago. (2) The Inn at Afton, higher up at the start of the Parkway. Online reviews of this establishment are universally scathing (see, for example, Sholto last year). Even if I am able to stay at one of these places, I doubt it will have internet access. With luck I will make it to Lexington on Tuesday and be able to post from there.

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