Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 4, The Cookie Lady

Charlottesville, VA – Afton, VA (The Cookie Lady) 32 Miles (225 Total)

Time on bike: 3:22:20

Avg: 9.9 mph

Daily Ascent: 2565 (80 ft/mile)

A tough day today for many reasons, but a nice finish to it all. I had to buy a cell phone in Charlottesville, VA because Chancy was the one with a phone. Charlottesville is a nice college town. Some people stopped on their way into Panera Bread there to ask me about my bike and where I was going. People seem so interested in my bicycle. They ended up giving me $10 and buying me coffee and a pastry. I finally left Charlottesville at 11pm headed up into the mountains. I climbed and I climbed and I climbed in the heat of the day, refusing to let the mountains get the better of me. I went for my first swig of water from my Camelpack only to find it empty. I had forgotten to check before I left. Now, I’ve run 20 miles before without drinking water in Africa before, so I wasn’t too worried. I bargained with myself that I’d ask the first person I saw outside their house. I pulled into a nice brick home with a beautifully landscaped lawn and asked the man for some water. He went inside and produced 2 bottles of ice cold water. “Is that enough,” he asked. I told him that I could use more so he went in and produced a pitcher of ice water. How refreshing!

The weatherman had said there would be storms in the afternoon, but I was headed for Afton, VA which is notorious for being the home of “The Cookie Lady”, June Curry. June has been helping bicyclists along the TransAmerica Trail for over 30 years. She provides a “Bike House” for cyclists to stay in and the walls are COVERED with post cards of appreciative riders who have sent her letters expressing their gratitude. I had read extensively of June and was expecting a nice old lady with a fresh batch of cookies. What I found was more of a combination of a museum and a shrine dedicated to those who have braved the TransAmerica Trail. Over 14,000 by June’s count.

June is 87 years old and doesn’t get around like she used to, she tells me. She talks up a storm, partially due to her inability to hear, but partially from years of stories from other cyclists. When I first arrived she pulled out her Polaroid camera and took my picture and had me sign my name, date and hometown. It then went into one of several photo albums labeled by year. I flipped back to 2004 and found my friend Chad who had biked The Trail and had given me the idea to do it. We were wearing the same shirt in the picture as I was wearing the one I borrowed from him. Stranger than that, I found that a month and 3 days ago a man named Brian Dunn from Chicago, IL had also passed through here. How random is that??

So here I am, at the Cookie Lady’s Bike House for the night. The storms did arrive so I crashed here. One could spend a month going through this place. It’s separate from her own house and it’s filled with memorabilia that cyclists have donated and sent to June. Each card has a story, cyclists from all 50 states and many countries. Her hospitality over the years has certainly been a lighthouse and an oasis for fellow trail riders.

A short day on the bike, I’ll make up for it tomorrow.

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