I woke in the morning, ready to begin my bicycle ride. I rode flat roads to Williamsburg, where I stopped for a cappuccino and a snack. There were graduates walking around with families, as it was graduation for William and Mary (the second oldest university in the country). It felt so interesting sitting at the start of my bicycle ride, watching such nicely dressed people out and about while I sat wearing bicycle shorts and jersey, keeping watch over my heavy touring bicycle. I navigated the roads and enjoyed riding past the historical buildings. I had the option to camp 25 miles further down the road but decided I'd keep riding for the full day's agenda, which would bring me to Glendale, VA.
I rode much of the day on a bicycle path and it was so beautiful. The roads were relatively flat and I felt really comfortable on my bicycle. I came across a small convenience store where I picked up some candy, gum and a soda just before riding to my overnight accommodations. There are many churches that open their doors along the route, with that night being in Glendale, VA. Willis United Methodist Church offered comfortable accommodations, with me sleeping on my own in one of their small rooms used as a nursery.
I was happy to chat with Jim in the evening and readied myself for the next day's ride.
I never really spent time writing in detail about my bicycle ride in 2016, and while I've dabbled in putting together a photo-book, I wanted to write this out before embarking on the second part of my bicycle ride.
I flew out early on Saturday, May 14th. Jim and the kids drove me to the airport in Indianapolis. I had a connection to make in Atlanta and worried about the details of flying. I was thinking about the challenges I'd face and wondered what I was thinking in planning this adventure. I mostly missed my family, but not in the way that I thought they wouldn't be okay without me or that I wouldn't be okay without them; rather, they are part of me and I felt like I was leaving something really big and essential behind. Throughout my time away, whenever I shared an exchange with a stranger, my role as mother and wife was always included in the first three sentences of my introduction. And each time I spoke of them, I felt a ping of missing them hit me harder than if I was busy navigating maps, listening to my bicycle noises to assess if there was an issue or figuring out distance and time traveled for that day's route. It was in the quiet of my days and those times where I spoke of my family that I lingered in my thoughts regarding what they were doing at that very moment and how I couldn't wait to see them in person. So, traveling alone and without my people felt so strange and if I could, I'd work in that my children and husband were at home, cheering me on.
My connection to Newport News, Virginia was made in Atlanta, Georgia. I rested a little, tired due to a late night and a very early morning. My plan was to take a taxi to the bicycle shop, where I had mailed my bicycle. I arranged for the bicycle shop to receive and reassemble my bicycle, ready for me when I arrived. I had also connected with the kind people at Grace Episcopal Church in Yorktown, VA, the starting town of my ride, and they offered to have one of their members pick me up at the airport. John was a kind man, and he reminded me of my father. He offered to take me to the bicycle shop to retrieve my bicycle and instead of me riding it with my panniers to the church, he offered to drive me and my gear back to the church. We even stopped at Walmart so I could pick up perishables and other food stuff to cook along with a couple small camp stove fuel canisters.
We arrived at the church, all the while I was so grateful I hadn't needed to navigate this straightaway from the bicycle shop. Traffic was heavy and I didn't have a way to navigate safely to the church. John and the Cyclist Ministry really provided such care for me on my first day, and I felt so grateful and looked after.
That day I met a family that was also embarking on a eastward bound ride across the country. I can't remember names, so I'll call them Mom, Dad, and Sons. The Dad was cycling while Mom and the two young Sons followed along using their pop-up camper and vehicle. He did finish the ride, which I found out through their blog. They were staying at the Guest House, too, at the church. It rained a little and a double rainbow appeared. The Sons really loved that.
I prepared dinner and cleaned up my dishes. I had already sorted through my gear and luggage and put them in my panniers (the bags that anchor onto the special frames on my bicycle) but I double checked and laid out my clothes for the next day. I wrote in their Guest Register and settled myself in to bed. I knew I'd be riding my bicycle early in the morning. I fell asleep, eager, tired, and in shock that I was states away from my home and my family. I felt really excited for the start of this ride to actually begin, as I had been planning for this day for months and months.
If this were a baby I was waiting for, I'd be about 28 weeks pregnant. I'd be getting into my third trimester, preparing more and feeling more. Maybe I'd celebrate this little one with a traditional baby shower or a more intimate gathering celebrating my impending motherhood. But this is not a baby I'm waiting for and so my preparations look very different. My anticipations, however, feel similar.
What will this time be like? What will I feel? How will it all unfold? All these questions and no definitive answers! Just like parenting that second (or third...) baby to join the family, there is a big area of "I'm not sure..." that is the response to my wonderings. But I'm feeling pretty at ease about the unknowns...at least for now.
I was preparing mostly in my mind, prior to a couple days ago. I mean, I was reading through others' blogs and online journals to get a sense of places to stay overnight and difficulty of certain route sections. I am happy to say that I just signed up for cycling classes in March & April at our local YMCA, happening M/T/W/Th early morning. Getting on a bike in a studio has never appealed to me. My style of bicycle touring is a whole lot of coasting and stopping and taking breaks. But, my goal in the first two weeks is high mileage over some hilly sections in Missouri and flat, windy sections in Kansas.
^photo taken Friday, June 3, 2016, near Bardstown, Kentucky
Amy spends her days caring for her children, keeping up with the interweb, drinking coffee and talking about birth and babies.