April 19, 2001

4/19/01 Shadwell VA

39.3 miles

I got up to find frost on the grass and the condensation on the underside of the tent fly was ice, but the sun was shining. As I packed up, I kept returning to the warmth of the firehouse to rub the feeling back into my hands. After a quiet breakfast at the Country Road Cafe, it was out on the busy two-lane that the firemen said would take me to Charlottesville. Traffic wasn't too bad through Louisa, but it was a lot of trucks and semis. I stopped off in Trevilians to read about the largest calvary battle of the Civil War. The next 15 miles were great, almost no traffic and rolling hills. It warmed up a bit, making for a beautiful morning to ride. Then things got crazy.

My last 5 miles to Shadwell turned out to be on a winding, hilly road with way too much traffic. Because people couldn't pass me on the curves, they sometimes backed up 6 or 7 deep. As soon as I could, I turned off on a seldom-used country road. But that still left me five miles from Shadwell on a busier two-lane, only no curves. Several times I just pulled over off the road when the trucks came barreling behind me. I might have been pushing too hard, because I got there by 1 P.M. and my left knee and ankle were very sore.

After leaving him a message on his cell phone, Larry Moore, who runs the East Rivannia Volunteer Fire Company, pulls up just minutes later. After a quick hello, he says to follow him back to the station. Yes, I said back up the same highway I nearly risked my life to ride down.

At the station, he gave me a quick tour and said, "Make yourself at home." I thought since it was so early in the day, I might try and see Monticello now instead of taking time tomorrow. But as I left the station, leaving behind the trailer, my knee and ankle still were pretty sore and I just didn't feel up to more riding. So I rode back again on the "highway of death" to spend the entire afternoon sleeping.

Sometimes too much free time to think is a bad thing. I kept thinking about my aches and pains, the difficulty of riding these roads, and the loneliness. The more I thought, the more I wanted to quit. As the evening crew began arriving and I explained to each what I was doing, my final destination kept getting shorter. "Yeah, biking to Oregon, but I might stop in Kansas City." "I'll think hard about stopping in Kansas City." I think that was even worse than my thinking about it.

The guys and gals of the station made me part of the gang. We rode the vehicles to get something to eat at Riverside Grill.

These volunteers are amazing. To be full members, they work one shift a week, usually nights, and help with the weekly bingo game that helps pay for their equipment. This is all in addition to their full-time jobs and families. They invited me to be the guest at their monthly meeting; and I got to see how they all work together to keep the station running.

The crew working this night was OJ, Johnnie, Kevin, Robert, and Tony. Most were in their 20's and definitely had a lot of fun working together.

It's hard to find the words to thank this group of people who have let me in and treated me like one of their crew. If only this could happen more often in our daily lives.

I opted for the couch in the rec-room because I didn't want to disturb their sleep with my snoring, even though they kept offering one of the bunks in the dorm. They said I could ride with them if they got a call in the middle of the night.