Saturday, 12 May 2012

Louisa, VA

The Whistle Stop Bed and Breakfast, Louisa
I set off at 7am in the cool of the morning and had the most beautiful ride of 81 km to Louisa. As soon as I left Ashland, the traffic (light anyway at that time on a Saturday morning) vanished to practically nothing. Only the last 9 km from Mineral to Louisa, which is off-route, were busy. The riding was easy although for the first time there were a few short hills with steep sections. One early on had me dropping right down through the gears and gasping with effort to get up it. The route crossed three fingers of Lake Anna, its banks dotted with holiday houses, each with its own mooring facilities. The lake area is also home to a nuclear power plant. I stopped for refreshments at Buckner gas station and had lunch when I arrived in Louisa.

Lake Anna
Since leaving Newport News, I have not observed much non-human life: a few horses in paddocks, a few small furry-tailed creatures which I take to be squirrels, and a few birds of varying size. I don't have the knowledge to be more specific. The terrain has been wooded with scrubby undergrowth, sometimes giving way to more open country, not always cultivated.

Typical road today
On the basis of three days' experience I have nothing but praise for the roads and drivers of Virginia. Motorists wait calmly behind me until it is safe for them to overtake and then do so with a wide margin, usually going right across to the opposite carriageway. What a difference from the typical behaviour in Australia! Road surfaces are smooth and well-maintained, in the countryside and in the towns. The state has done a good job of signposting bicycle route 76 (named from the TransAm's origins as the 1976 Bikecentennial, not because it is the 76th bicycle route). Turns are marked in advance and, a feature I especially like, there is a confirmatory sign after the turn. I have not found it difficult to adapt to riding on the right hand side of the road. In fact, it is easier for me to look over my left shoulder and signal with my left arm than to take those actions on my right.

Obrigado restaurant, Louisa
In the evening, Joe, who I had met earlier in the drugstore, came looking for me at the B&B to invite me round to his home. He missed me there but found me at the Obrigado restaurant just after I had ordered what turned out to be the best meal I have had so far. We sat and chatted for a while until he had to leave. Back at the B&B, I spent the rest of the evening talking to Trecia, the owner, and Steve, another guest. I learned that I am the first biker to stay there this season and that Louisa was the epicentre of an earthquake in August last year that resulted in its schools having to be demolished.

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