Welcome to the 7th installment of the bike trip saga. This post was written by Ivan, titled “You Only Start Twice”. Here he walks us through the beginnings of the trip. It is dated 6/25/2011:
In all of our excitement getting this trip on the way, some of the finer details have been left by the wayside, much like our hygienic habits. We’ve had two starts, to be honest. The one where we dipped our bikes in the Atlantic ocean (which I’ll get to soon, promise), and the first start, the true start according to Nikki, when we stepped outside the our cool air-conditioned not-Hilton hotel room into balmy Richmond.
We were jumping out if the nest, using our wings for the first time, and it showed. We hobbled and wobbled through the streets. There’s a reason that parking lots have multiple entrances, and we missed quite a few of them.
Our first goal was a map of Virginia. “But Ivan, you suave and hairy man-beast,” you say, “your phone has the interwebs! This is the future! No one has used paper since the American Revolution!” I once thought like you too, clever straw man. Paper doesn’t run out of batteries or lose signal ever. It just tears and gets moist occasionally. Easily avoided. Maybe. What I’m saying is we bought one from a convenience store. It is more of a road map when we need a bit more of a path and campy map, but whatever. It makes us look purposeful whenever we stop for breaks on the side of the highway.
Which we did. Quite often, that first day.
One of the most notable breaks had to do with food, as is usually the case. On the Richmond University campus I opted for Chipotle, while girl-biker chose the conveniently located Panera next door. This is all fascinating in a mundane sort of way, we were in one of the most historical brick buildingest states, after all. But that is where we met Not-Brad. Which is important.
Not-Brad sought us out. He saw our bikes outside, and sought out the two equally silly dressed riders who owned them. He was about to head out to Idaho to start his own cross-country route with his family. Terribly friendly, he was full of good news. We swapped stories, good practice for the hundreds of times we’ll have to repeat introductions.
He gave us his card and said if we needed anything between then and… well, today, then he’d be happy to help. But now he’s off on his own trip and I wish him the best of luck. Fingers crossed that we run into each other in some of the middle states. One of them, at most. More would be too confusing.
The rest of the ride was guesswork. I had an improbable goal, and the weather knew it. We rode a bike path out of downtown and onto a few roads that collectively were known as “something 5.” Route, highway, road, not sure. After we were sure that we were roasted enough, we stopped at what we thought was a campsite according to the map. But the little teepee deceived us, and there was no camp (but there was, and you know that). Instead there was a hunting/fishing building that is the most environmentally friendly building that I know of, because there are signs about it EVERYWHERE. The lady inside (air-conditioned) was kind enough to let us camp out back and use their ice and all that. We’ve talked about that. It was an eye-opening experience. I had way too much not food, but I was more thirsty than anything, and there was plenty of water.
Then some other stuff happened, which we’ll still write about. Then today happened, which was fantastic.
But damn it all, I’m in the middle of the sound system version of dueling banjos. I can’t think straight. I think Nikki is trying to sleep, and there is a hell of a party to our right blasting country music. And now the truck pulling a boat out of the water to our left thinks it needs to blast 90s music. Full blast. Impossibly loud. No one could sit in that truck and stand it loud.
No matter, it’s their day too, and they don’t have places to be tomorrow. We’ll sleep somehow. I’ll write about the start if the trail in a few weeks or something. This is a conversational travelogue.
Bugs I’ve killed with my thumbs on the touch screen while typing this: 9.