Today's Miles = 69.3
Average Speed = 10.1 mph
Maximum Speed = 38.6 mph
Total Miles = 210.9
After packing up our camps, Ed and I were greeted in the morning with Gail's offer of coffee and orange juice. We visited briefly with the Wolfes, who provided us with fresh water and a handful of crackers for the road, and then we set out for the day.
Not having made it to our intended campground the night before had left us in a bad location. When we arrived in the town of Mineral (pop 471) it was far too early to stop riding. However, the next good place to seek lodging wasn't until Charlottesville, which meant making another attempt at an 80-mile day. We decided to stop in Mineral for breakfast and just as we pulled up to a restaurant Ed's rear tire went flat.
We went ahead and ate our breakfast and talked to some of the townsfolk, then went outside to tend to our bikes. While Ed replaced his flat tire I worked on adjusting a few things that needed attention on my bike. I finished just as Ed had replaced his rear tube and reinflated his tire. Promptly after he put his wheel on his bike it went flat again. We took it off, patched the tube, and inspected the wheel and tire for anything that could be causing the leaks. Finding nothing, we inflated his tire again only to have it go flat a third time. One of the townsfolk suggested a nearby shop that might be able to help find and patch the cause of the leak, so it was decided to put Ed's bike in the back of a truck and take it down to have it looked at. Ed and I had talked earlier about splitting up once in Charlottesville, and I wanted to keep riding to avoid a repeat of last night, so Ed and I split ways in Mineral and I headed out on the trail. I wouldn't be surprised to meet Ed again soon as he was attempting to keep a faster pace than I and I felt like I was holding him back while we rode together.
At some point on the previous day the cleat for my right pedal had gotten misaligned on the bottom of my shoe. This meant that my knee was being slightly twisted every time I pushed down on it, but I didn't notice until I had ridden perhaps 50 miles this way and the pain began. With my knee causing me a little distress I decided to try to make it just to Palmyra and seek some sort of lodging there for the night, then take a short ride to Charlottesville in the morning and take the rest of the day off to let my knee improve.
The day before Ed and I had met with another cyclist named Guy. Guy was heading down to Yorktown where he was going to lead an Adventure Cycling group on this same route. He mentioned that just outside of Palmyra a dog that we should watch out for had bitten him. In our riding so far I have found two fairly effective ways to deal with the handful of dogs that have tried to chase us down the road. One is to wait until they are fairly close, then give them a sharp command of "NO!". It seems like they are momentarily surprised to hear your command and that halts them long enough to make your escape. The other thing I have found that works pretty well is simply to pedal faster and further than they are able to run and simply leave them behind. But as I headed into Palmyra I was chased by a tenacious dog that didn't want to give up. He chased me and chased me and tried twice to nip at my heels. I decided that it was time for the pepper spray and I squirted a couple of quick blasts his way. I'm not sure if I actually hit him, or if the hissing of the canister was enough to startle him, but either way he immediately relinquished the chase and headed off into a nearby field.
When I arrived in Palmyra I found a little cafe right next the route and stopped for a short supper of country-fried steak. I found that the only lodging available was a Bed and Breakfast which charged more than my budget would allow, so that left Charlottesville as my only chance. As I left Palmyra it seemed barely possible make shelter in Charlottesville before the sun went down.
About 7 miles outside Charlottesville I heard a very loud "twang" from my rear wheel, and pulled to a rapid stop to find my rear tire completely flat. I realized immediately that this meant that making town before dark was essentially impossible, as even fixing a simple flat would eat up the daylight hours that were remaining. I dismounted my bike and started walking it to a nearby house with the intention of asking if they knew of any patch of ground nearby where I could pitch a tent. But just as I reached the house a passing pick-up stopped and asked if there was anything I needed. Sean and Jenn lived very close and were just passing by when they saw me walking my bike. Sean offered to give me a ride into town, and I had him drop me off at the first hotel we came to.
Once in my room, after resting briefly, I started to tend to my bike. I found that I had a broken spoke, and that the flat tire appeared to have been caused by the brake pads rubbing the sidewalls until they could no longer contain the pressure. I spent thirty minutes patching my rear tire with duct tape and food wrappers, then about two hours fiddling with my spokes until my wheel was roughly round again.
They say that completing Virginia is the hardest part of this entire journey for westbound cyclists. The mountains I'm about to cross have some of the steepest rides of the whole trip, and I'm coming into them with only a few days of training under my belt. If I can get through the next week I can probably make it the whole way, but I need to do a few things to prepare first. I've decided that I'm going to take one or two down days here in Charlottesville. I need to get my rear wheel repaired by a real bike store, I want to give my knee a chance to rest, and I'd like to take some time to see Monticello. I also want to lighten the load I'm carrying over these mountains, so I'm going to offload some of my gear in two different ways. I think I've found a few things that I can simply do without, and I'm going to ship them to Colorado where they will be waiting for me if I change my mind. I've also thought of a few things I can spare for a few days, and I plan on shipping them ahead to myself to some Post Office about a week down the road. At the latest, I should be riding again on Monday.