April 16, 2001

4/16/01 Glendale VA

42.9 miles

After all the rain, it was a pretty clear morning. Believe it or not, the first thing on my agenda, besides finding a restroom, was a 20-minute run. I had this crazy idea about running every other day to exercise my non-cycling muscles. I figure, since I brought the running shoes, I might as well use them.

I was packed and ready to go by 9 A.M. When I stopped off at the campground office, the manager asked, "Was that your little tent I saw back there? You didn't get blown away last night, did you?" I smiled and assured him that I hardly felt the wind back there among the trees.

Once out on the road, I discovered what she meant. I had a stiff headwind. It was just cold enough to put on the windbreaker. Most of the time, the road was bordered by very tall pines. But when I reached patches of farmland, I thought I was going to be blown off the bike.

Riding the white line

The road had about a 6-inch shoulder, meaning I was riding on the painted edge line most of the time. Traffic wasn't heavy, but half of it was big dump trucks. It was only scary when vehicles approached each other at the same time they passed me. For the most part, it seemed flat until I turned off to Glendale.

Before that, I stopped off to get some Fig Newtons at the Sandy Point Superette. The owner talked about a guy walking across the USA a few years ago who spent the night there and still sends a Christmas card every year. When I handed him one of my cards, he asked about the memorial fund. After finishing a few cookies, I asked about a restroom. "No, but just use any tree out back!" he said with a smile.

By now the sky was cloudy and overcast, with the headwinds picking up a bit. They were working on the drawbridge across the wide Chickahominy River. What a terrible job two unfortunate souls had directing traffic out on that cold windswept bridge.

Other stops today included the Sherwood Forest Plantation, home of President John Tyler. I'm sure it would have looked better on a sunny day. I paid for a tour of the grounds. One item I found amusing was the "Garden House". It was a secluded outhouse with two adult-height seats and a lower one for children. They couldn't tell me if the seats were for a particular person or if several people used it at the same time.

Tyler's home is one of the longest
wood-frame structures in the USA

With dark clouds on the horizon, I decided not to waste any time and headed for my stopover for the night, the Willis Methodist Church. But I had one long hill before I got there. At the top were the cannons of Malvern Hill, a Civil War battle site.

battleground has quiet crops instead of shooting soldiers

I found the church, but the pastor wasn't home. I ended up going a mile farther to the gas station, but they didn't seem to even know there was a church nearby. I went back and tried a neighbor's house. "Yes", she said, "they still let bikers camp there." I decided the only thing to do was wait. Did I tell you I'm not good at waiting?

Eventually, Pastor Harrel and his wife got back from shopping. He said I was the first cyclist to stop here this year. There was a mix-up with the guidebook because while they'll let you camp and use the restrooms, there is no hostel. He was a very friendly man, with a lot of knowledge about the history nearby. The church, he said, had been used by both sides during the War; and General Lee had had his last planning meeting there before the Battle of Malvern Hill. Ministry had been his second career and he'd even retired from that, but agreed to come to this small country church four years ago. He lives there with his wife and a daughter. I felt at home there. He told me a cold spell was coming through, so I'd better get out my skivies tonight.

So, I'm all bundled up, and writing of my second day of the trip.