Wednesday, August 24, 2016

123: Oh Shenandoah!

Another beautiful day for riding, particularly welcome after the sweltering heat and humidity of the last week or so. It is amazing how the heat just saps your energy.
Beautiful rolling farmland
This was not a particularly long day. We were just planning to go about 40 miles down the valley. The farms in this area are gorgeous. On both sides of the road, they roll away across the hills, with the mountain ranges as a hazy blue backdrop. Mile after mile I thought it just could not be any lovelier, but then we'd crest a hill or turn the corner and the scene would take my breath away. To the left, the Massanutten range shelters the valley on the east. Beyond them is the Blue Ridge Mountains, which I would love to ride some day. But we will leave that for another time.  West lie the mountain roads of the Alleghenies or the gates to hell, as local cyclists tell it. But we are not heading that way, either.

We are bound south in this valley, doing what we can to cross the mountains with the least possible injury!  
We love stopping at farm stands

Many of the farms have dairy cattle, so of course we are still riding past cornfields and soybeans. But there are also apple orchards, and we made a great stop at a fruit stand where a local farm had all manner of wonderful fruits and vegetables. We bought a cantaloupe and ate it on the spot, juice dripping down our chins. It was fantastic! We are also enjoying the local peaches, though all the farmers have told us the late freeze this year really devastated the crop.

Check out the lacy stuff by the post!
One thing I observe all along the roadsides here are wild asparagus! If you did this tour in May or June, you'd want to have your harvesting basket and knife handy. You could eat your weight in them. 

We stopped for a bite after a couple of hours of riding, and the old-timers at the station were very interested in our journey and the bike.  "How often do you change the tires?"  That's what they wanted to know. Wouldn't you know it, about a mile or two down the road, I notice a funny bump, bump, bump as we are riding, and we stopped to check it out. The tire is separating at the bead. So obviously it's time for a tire change. The cluster is getting wonky, so we probably ought to head to a bike store.
Tires have been our biggest issue

The guys at Shenandoah Bicycles took care of us in no time at all, and Tim was also very helpful in our thoughts about routes. Of course, everyone we ask has an opinion, and since we don't actually know the roads, we are stuck having to decide which opinion to trust. 

We stayed tonight with Warm Showers hosts Erika and Mark. They are both faculty - she in the nursing program at James Madison University and he in history at Eastern Mennonite University. In addition, they are Mennonite, so we were able to talk about the history and culture of their faith, and Mark was great at explaining about how the various sects of Anabaptists evolved and moved here and there.  The Mennonites strike me like the various forms of Judaism - you have more or less strict rules and behavioral mores, which depend on things like your local bishop, custom, and practice, It's sort of like comparing Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular Judaism. It was very interesting. In general, the Anabaptists all share a pacifist nature.  Works for me!
Thank you girls, for breakfast!

Mark and Erika

Erika and Mark have two children - Cora and Isaac. Isaac is compiling a great collection of classic rock LPs, so we were rocking to Led Zepplin while getting dinner together. We just had such a good time I did not want to leave!

The day's report:  Woodstock to Harrisonburg, 39.5miles/5878 to date

The route to Harrisonburg

Another milestone!  Today was 4 months on the road for us.

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