After Washington, I headed into the south. Starting with Fredricksburg, site of some famous battle or other. One of the things I’ve probably done wrong on this leg of the trip is not taking enough time to explore these interesting places and instead smashing out big mile days. After an 85 mile day, I don’t really want to ride a few miles back into town and walk around the site where a load of confederate soldiers fought brits or whatever. I also need to brush up on US history.
I’ll remember Fredricksburg for the most disappointing raw cannoli, which was a soggy (presumably vegan) cracker with some mashed up cashew. And took 20 minutes.
Riding out of DC was lovely though. There’s a beautiful network of trails which goes along the Potomac to Mount Vernon, which was full of commuters (who are just as poor cyclists as back home in London). The trail goes right past the end of the runway at Reagan airport and I was lucky enough to have a plane take off right over me, so close I could practically touch it.
From DC into Richmond, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, particularly during Autumn. Their marathon is on my bucket list. I had the pleasure of staying with a friend from back in Dublin (well, a friend of a friend, but we’re first generation friends now I reckon) and his wife. They were kind enough to put me up for a few nights and show me around the town.
First up, the shooting range. Like most Irish people, I hadn’t shot a gun before. It’s amazing. Putting aside the politics of gun control for a second, shooting a gun is amazingly fun. The sheer power of it, the feeling that your finger could break off, the smell of gunpowder, the recoil, the sheer satisfaction from ejecting and catching a clip. It’s literally the most amazing fun.
Before they let us shoot, we had to watch a safety video and be able to recite the three key rules (like keep your gun pointed down range at all times). I could only remember too (I was excited, alright), so the guy had to prompt me. It’s not a robust system.
We shot at a zombie, called Big Todd. I say “at” because some of these guns are pretty inaccurate (in our hands). Started with a big powerful revolver, then a smooth, easy shooting glock, followed by a 45 which is in the middle.
After a bit of a lunch at the wonderfully named “Goatcado” salad bar (motif was a goat with an avocado for a head), we went out on a crawl. Apparently it’s not the done thing to stay in one bar for a night in Richmond, so we hit four. Started with a beer in a brewery called Falling Gravity. They have a running club on Thursday nights. You do a run, then finish at the brewery. There’s a snack table to get quick sugar and water, then beer.
From there to a place called 11 months, which is a restaurant that changes its menu every 11 months. They had the most amazing chorizo cornbread – so good we were sad at the end that all cornbread was forever ruined. Then to a rooftop bar, where we met a wonderful and horny woman called Monique. After coming on to all of us (and getting a good rub of some leg hair (not mine) because apparently (and these aren’t my words) “black women in America are obsessed with Irish, ginger leg hair”. She works six jobs does Monique. All legal, she was keen to stress, when nobody asked.
After that, another bar. It gets a little hazy. I’m sure I have the name on my credit card bill somewhere, but I don’t want to check. Unfortunately, despite a fun night, no pictures. What happens in Richmond, stays in Richmond.
It was so lovely to have friends again, and I left Richmond hungover, slowly and painfully, but emotionally satisfied. It’s hard cycling when hungover, but a very pretty route, nearly completely along a cycling trail through the forest.
From Richmond, to Williamsburg, famous for its colonial period town, run using period techniques, materials etc. It was lashing rain, but good fun, seeing the different trades: shoemaker, smith, baker, founder (pouring metal into moulds), leathersmith and tinsmith. Everyone’s dressed up and tells the story of what they do and the tools they use.
Spent the evening in Busch Gardens, which is a theme park famous for big rollercoasters. It has areas themed around different countries: England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy.
Sad to leave Virginia, it’s a good state.