April 20, 2001

4/20/01 Afton, VA

42.1 miles

What a difference a couple of days can make. I'm at the "Cookie Lady's Bike House" in Afton, along with Mike and his brother, George. And I feel better tonight mentally. But I get ahead of myself.

One thing I did notice today was that I passed three -- count them, three -- different recycling centers for different areas of the county. If they can do this in the "sticks" we should be able to do it in "the city."

Mitchie Tavern

As the crew went off to their real jobs, I headed for Monticello. Unfortunately for me, the little two-lane was in the middle of rush hour. I did make it safely, but there was a waiting line of over an hour for tours, so I skipped it. Just stopped long enough to take a picture of Mitchie Tavern before heading into Charlottesville.

At the Monticello Visitors Center, I was amazed to find out Thomas Jefferson was only in his twenties when he designed and built his estate home. A significant part of the center's exhibits were on Jefferson's slaves and their accomplishments.

After that, it was a hilly ride through town. I think I pushed the bike up the hills more than I rode.

Wheeled by the University of Virginia stadium to see preparations for the Dave Matthews concert Saturday night. You would think they'd have a few cheap bagel shops near campus, but I sure couldn't find any.

I had planned on stopping at the Studies on Women and Gender department to tell them about my trip and fund-raiser, but I couldn't do it. I mean, how could I toot my own horn while in my heart I wanted to quit soon instead of next November? So I rode by without a second glance.

My stop for the night was supposed to be in Afton, but I thought I'd call ahead to June Curry, also known as the "Cookie Lady." June has been helping cyclists since the first trans-American ride in 1976. When she answered the phone, I was talking with an articulate 80-year old woman. When I mentioned my difficulties, she tried to pool her knowledge from some 11,000 cyclists she's met and give me some sound advice and a boost of encouragement. I really needed to hear what she had to say. As I once again got on the road, I felt a little better.

Riding through the country-side

One of my observations of riding these quiet country roads is that for every run-down home you see, there would be three or four new ones, some quite large and fancy. So while the numbers of family farms grows smaller, it seems as if the population out in the country is on the increase.

Saw a few woodchucks and turkey vultures. Had the assorted "I'm going to eat you" and "Let's play" dogs. And almost everyone I saw working out in the yard gave me a wave hello.

Again, more pushing the bike uphill as the roads began to be a winding roller-coaster through all the sleepy hollows. I saw a large group of racing cyclists, probably from Charlottesville. When I mentioned it at Wyant's Store in White Hall, everybody piped in how aggravating those cyclists were. "You cross-country bicyclists always are considerate and ride to the right in single file," Larry Wyant said, "but those local boys take a whole lane and flip us off if we honk at them to move over."

June Curry is the greatest!

The final hill of the day was a zigzag two miles up and up and up. So what's new? I got off the bike and pushed. Finally, as I crossed the railroad bridge, there was the brick building called the "Bike House." But if that wasn't enough to lift my spirits, two other loaded bikes were parked there!

Turns out we were the 3rd, 4th, and 5th riders to stop this year. June gave us a tour of this home where the walls of "every" room are covered with postcards and news clippings from the cyclists that have come through here. Amongst all that are signed shorts, hats, shoes, gloves, and other memorabilia. The house was stocked with donated canned goods and other supplies, as needed. June's hospitality is just amazing. She's even started a collection of spare change for a 1977 cyclist who now has MS. "We've collected over $500 for her."

Postcards lined all the walls of the 'Bike House'

June left us to settle in. Mike is a teacher in Australia and his brother George is a stay-at-home dad with his daughter. Both guys were very easy to talk to and we got along great. George needs to get back home in Sacramento in a few weeks, so they're on a tight schedule. But I still might catch Mike later. It was great to know I wasn't the only crazy idiot to start this early.

The plan is for a short ride into Waynesboro and get a hotel room, do laundry, catch up on my email and website, and maybe catch in a movie. Things are looking better every day.