Day 2, The Pulpit Day

May 18, 2010

From: Williamsburg, VA
To: Glendale, VA
Distance: 54.11 miles
Time: 4:47:24
View Garmin Data >

It rained. And then it rained some more. And just for good luck, it rained a boatload more. For five hours. On me.

It alternated between pouring, deluge, cats and dogs, and “where’s the ark?” For the first three hours, I was reasonably happy. Enjoying myself. No, really. But there comes a point where booties just become water weights. Where you feel your feet sloshing around in a puddle inside your shoes and it’s not so delightful. When you look down and notice your hands are way to pruney it’s not so much fun anymore.

And it’s hard to avoid debris-strewn, potentially tire flattening puddles when the whole road is a puddle.

But I digress.

I started in Williamsburg in the rain. On this day, I packed the trailer with SUPREME skill, as evidenced by the complete lack of sway. A very different story from yesterday. I vowed to take a photo of the interior later as a guide in order to reign supreme over Zimmerman every day. Because he’s a finicky little thing. The trailer is now officially called Zimmerman the Belligerent, by the way. I think it’s catchy.

The first problem began on the Colonial Parkway. A road surfaced with pebbles and curtained by lovely trees. In this instance, the rain was not the problem. The rather large detour sign taking me OFF the parkway and onto a rather heavily trafficked road was the problem. I don’t like being taken off a route I haven’t even got the hang of yet.

Thankfully the road had a very wide shoulder. Unfortunately, a wide shoulder does not shield you from the instant extra shower you get when trucks pass by and it’s pouring rain. I left my clear glasses somewhere in the bottom of my bag, so it was kind of a drag to just grin (with mouth closed) and bear it as stuff got sprayed at me.

I wasn’t worried about the detour that much, as I figured my Garmin would get me back on route. Lesson: never rely on a Garmin. Especially when the operator of said Garmin hits navigate instead of continue route and the thing tries to take her back to the start. In Yorktown.

But the other lesson you should learn, dear reader, is that I don’t believe everything I read. So when it told me to turn right when the detour sign pointed left, I ignored Senor Garmin and followed the sign. It was pointing towards Jamestown, which was at least in the right direction and near the start of The Capital Trail.

At some point (having not yet realized what the Garmin was up to), I started trusting it again. And then it really started coming down. Bucketing. All this rain was having an interesting effect on my bladder, so I pulled over to a park with the requisite facilities, and then decided to wait a little while under a picnic shelter. To kill time, I used the map feature on my iPhone and compared to where the Garmin was directing me.

What the fantasmagorical?

“Oh, you’re trying to get me back to the start. You’re so cute!”

From that point on, I turned away from the comforting glow of the Garmin, followed my iPhone right to the start of The Capital Trail, and went old-school only. Meaning I just used the paper TransAmerica maps.

12_capitaltrail_5 copy

The Capital Trail is gorgeous. Even in the rain. I saw two “what the hell are you!?” baby animals at the side of it as I turned a bend. I think they were little beavers, judging by the tails. The fact that I said, “what the hell are you!” aloud when I passed demonstrates that my talking to myself trait has already come into full effect. I would have loved to get a photo of the little critters, but I was too slow, and the rain was kind of sapping my desire to stop for anything.

Once off the trail and back on route 5, I was having a jolly good time. Although I could feel the water already pooling in my shoes. But it wasn’t too cold.

When I stopped at a small grocery store in Charles City, I was pretty hungry and very bedraggled. One fella walked up.

“You picked a hell-of-a-day!

I laughed, though secretly agreed. He wished me good luck.

A second bloke got out of his truck and came right up to me to have a yarn. He started talking about the 16-year old Aussie sailor girl who just sailed around the world but missed the record. He wished me good luck also. A third bloke making a delivery stopped and asked me how far I was going, then told me a story about two cyclists he met who were riding to Ontario.

“Ontario! Crazy!”

He wished me luck, and like all before said he hoped it stopped raining on me.

The store was pretty awesome. I would have loved to spend more time in it. It was kinda old and filled with all sorts of General Store stuff from all those small-town movies and TV shows I’ve seen throughout my life. Two ladies running the counters, an oldish gentleman stocking the shelves. But I was dripping everywhere and felt really self-conscious, so just grabbed some Snickers and left.

Never doubt the restorative power of a Snickers.

I did a bad thing and skipped lunch because I was running out of time. I neglected to mention that by the time I’d finished dilly-dallying back at the hotel with the great free breakfast and free internet and comfortable bed and great shower and the vain hope that it would stop raining, I didn’t leave until after 11am. Half the day wasted!

I figured there’d be something ahead. I figured wrong btw. Don’t want to ruin the surprise ending, but there is no restaurant in my future.

Rain. The theme is rain. There was more of it. Heavy as all getup at times. I was still sort of ok with it, right up until the next detour on Willis Road. Now, at this point we’re out in the sticks with not much iPhone coverage, so I’m a little reluctant to follow the detour. So, I don’t. It takes me past fields of wheat with canons in them. Bugger the rain, I’m getting a photo of that.

Noodling warily along, I ride past many Road Closed signs, over some piles of dirt, down a road that looks like no traffic has been on it for a while. Nervous. But then I popped out the other side and things were rosy. Apart from the rain thing.

Passing Willis, I headed to Glendale. It was kind of smaller than I had anticipated. Decision time. I will admit I kind of screwed up with the planning today. No way I was going to make it to Mechanicsville (what was I even thinking!?) so camping in Willis was my only fallback.

You’ve never seen a face so filled with dread at the thought of putting up a tent in the pouring rain. But I would have to do what I would have to do and oh, what was I going to do with all my soaked biking clothes, including my poor shoes?

I called the Willis Methodist Church number, which has been letting TransAmerica cyclists pitch tents on their grounds for years.

No answer.

I rode back to the church and got myself under the awning. It felt good to be out of the rain, but I was a little nervous about what to do. Six o’clock. Light fading. Raining like it’s forgotten how to stop.

After a while, I noticed a lady walking towards me with an umbrella.

“I looked out my window and said to myself ‘there’s a girl over there and she looks really wet’ so… wait here, I’ll open the door and you can bring your bike in through the front.”

Rarely have I been so happy. As soon as I walked into the church, I felt better. Warmer. Not getting pelted in the face with water does that to you. She showed me around, then left me be. I cooked up two servings of oatmeal, ate some peanut butter, then finished it off with a Snickers. Not quite the meal I was hoping for, and I need to get better with the food management situation, but…

Never doubt the restorative power of a Snickers. Or a roof in the rain.

Note: It’s very strange sleeping in front of the pulpit and next to a church piano. But kind of cool too. Precious waited patiently in a pew. I could tell he was praying for something. I hope it’s less rain.

Two things that paid for themselves 20 times over today were the Shower’s Pass jacket and hood. I doubt I would’ve arrived half as happy without those two pieces of clothing. The Goretex pants were a pretty good buy too. They get wet, but then keep you warm, and have strips of wind proofing material across the front of your thighs which helps stave off the chills.

It is now Day 3. It rained all night. It is still raining now. Oh joy! As you pull on your shoes and socks this morning, think of me putting on my still damp shoes.

I still wouldn’t trade places.

NEXT DAY > Glendale to Ashland

  1. Reply


    May 18, 2010

    that was an exhilarating read.. can’t wait for the next update!

  2. Reply

    Eric L

    May 18, 2010

    GO NOODLE. I’m really looking forward to reading this as you go along.

    Color me pea green with envy.

  3. Reply


    May 18, 2010

    OMG ! (oops not the right letters) she took the stove & some cooking gear. For future unplanned stops consider the local police station. I’m sure they will guide you to a safe spot to stay (if not a vacate holding jail cell).
    Sunny daze are ahead and your miles will increase.
    roan(not a tweeter person yet).

  4. Reply


    May 18, 2010

    Hi Janeen,
    Glad to hear you found some warmth and a dry place to stay. I bet you’ll have stayed in many churches by the time this journey is complete. It was nice seeing the pic of the Colonial Parkway. Brought back a lot of memories as my parents took us to Williamsburg every year for the Fourth of July. Love the post and the pics… look forward to more. Get some rest and here’s to getting a good lunch tomorrow!

  5. Reply

    Steve (bikesmont)

    May 19, 2010

    I’ll be putting on wet shoes and socks today too, but I’m at work. You’re in a much better place. Good luck and keep writing, very cool blog.

  6. Reply

    mike n (dailymile)

    May 20, 2010

    loved the read and the picture of precious in the church. sorry about the rain. some days are like that. it surely won’t rain the whole way across america.

  7. Reply

    sudhirP (dailymile)

    May 20, 2010

    sounds awesome……

    Atleast for me, the rains become non-irritating after u r in it for ~4 hrs…. and gettin to a warm place just feels so awesome

  8. Reply

    Eric Henao

    May 20, 2010

    From dailymile i caught this. You are rocking it so awesome I am entralled. YOU GO! Sounds like a total adventure. Live it!

  9. Reply

    Mike M.

    August 10, 2010

    If you can make it to Mineral by a decent hour, the firehouse there has a hot shower they let cyclist use and a covered area you might be able to setup you tent under. The train tracks about 40 yards away can get a little noisy in the middle of the night, hope you’re a sound sleeper 😉


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