Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An introduction to Southern hospitality...

The rains came down, and the floods came up, and the start of an epic journey got delayed. But no worries. I had planned to start riding last Friday, September 9th, from Arlington, VA, but the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and the resulting flooding had me a little nervous. Instead, I started my ride in Fredericksburg on Saturday, so as not to have to readjust my entire route schedule. And what an incredible journey it's been so far. 
 On Saturday, I rode about 55 miles from Fredericksburg to Richmond, meeting interesting people - Mike, the gas station attendant/endurance horse trainer, Billy the convenience store owner/emu farmer, and Bubba the roadside peach seller, among others - along the way. Once I got to Richmond, I was treated to some real Southern hospitality by Daniel Vaughan. We went downtown to Monument Drive, then to Buz & Ned's, Richmond's award-winning barbecue joint, then came back and watched the BYU-Texas football game (tough loss, Cougs). After the game, we made a run for shakes and Krispy Kremes. Sunday, I attended church in Richmond, where I just so happened to run into a dear friend, Shalayne Davis, who just started law school at U of R. It was really a great day. Richmond - I'm a fan.

Monday, I rode another 55 miles on another beautiful blue-sky day from Richmond to a little town called Blackstone, where I stayed with a gentleman named Gail, whom I met via Gail is a career Navy guy who teaches a shooting class to troops getting ready to deploy. He's also a pilot who owns his own plane, a gunsmith who's made his own guns, and an avid hunter and traveler. This guy has almost as many stories to tell as the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World". We had a great time just swapping stories and watching National Geographic.

Yesterday, I had quite the epic ride - 75 miles on nothing but smooth country roads from Blackstone to Henderson, North Carolina. I did, however, discover one obstacle to riding along back roads through the country. Country folk typically have one or two rather large dogs, and dogs like to chase cyclists. When I'm riding hard, I can outpace a dog no problem, but at the easy steady pace I try to maintain, the dogs are right there nipping at my heels. After a furious half-mile chase, the dogs turn around, but the sprint is exhausting. That happened three times on the roads yesterday. However, the canine problem was minor on such a great riding day. I eventually made it to Henderson, where I stayed with the Whittacre family - Dan and Joanna, and their six awesome kids. What a great family.

This morning I woke up, ready to head down to Durham to meet up with my former college roommate Doug and his wife Charisse, when I came across an unexpected surprise - I made the front page of the Henderson Daily Dispatch! Sister Clark, the branch president's wife, sent a note HDD telling them about my ride, and reporter David Irvine called me up yesterday to conduct an interview. As I got close to town, photographer Ashley Ayscue and his dad came and followed me for a short distance - the dad driving, Ashley hanging out the window snapping photos. I didn't expect it to be front page-worthy, but when I saw the paper this morning, there I was, reppin' the Colorado pride and too-short Spandex shorts. Check it out when you get a chance!
So, in conclusion, this ride has been everything hoped for and more thus far. Thanks to you all for your support! 

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