We woke up after an amazing sleep at the Courtyard Marriott in Fredericksburg, VA on Monday morning. The road ahead to Richmond was 60 miles with a rainy forecast.
We took the Jefferson Davis Highway the majority of the way which was nice because it was flat but it did not always have the nicest shoulder or drivers. This did not help the fact that we rode 50 of those miles in the rain!
There were several stretches with no stores in sight so we had to keep riding through the rain with our soggy socks and everything became slower and more dangerous on the road. We would stop every 5-10 miles whenever we saw a store with a cover or whenever Shane got a flat! He got two in about 30 minutes!
The second flat we stopped in Ashland, VA about 20 miles away from Richmond. A man named Ed came rolling up on us with his Giant brand bicycle loaded up. He said that he saw us riding in the rain about three miles back and it was his motivation to keep moving too! He was riding very light with a tent, hand pump, back pack and a milk crate on the front rack. We shared our strategies for a bit and he said he had been riding since NJ solo since Labor Day. Richmond was his final destination but he thought about riding all the way to CA with us. Seeing Ed by himself made me realize how lucky we are to have the three of us riding together.
Shane caught Ed off guard by interviewing him with the Gopro but he didn’t skip a beat. He just said how happy he was to find us and to be safe and alive. Ed has been sleeping in parks during the day and riding at night because he feels safer that way. He was recently harassed in a Walmart by two teens as they filmed it. They poured water on his head for no reason that Ed could think of other than it was initiation of some kind and Ed looks like an older, helpless man missing a few teeth. Luckily, he befriended a few kids sitting next to him and the others left him alone. His new friends told him he was part of their family now!
At Street Soccer USA each city plays for something and in NYC we Play For ‘Family’. This doesn’t always mean blood family but those who you go through unique life experiences with. The three of us have been riding, eating, sleeping , laughing, fighting and just about everything in between for an entire week now and it’s starting to feel like a family. Just like in a biological family you may not always get along or like each other but you do have to love each other.
If we keep this mentality then we might just finish what we started together and it will be an incredible accomplishment that only the three of us will have in common. Of course we are trying to post photos and blog about it so our friends and family can come along too but it’s just not quite the same!
So we left Ed and rode another 20 miles in the rain staying focused on the road and the semi trucks spraying us as we pushed hard for our final destination at a bike shop in Northern Richmond.
After getting some much needed work done on our bikes by the fine folks at Re-Cycle Bike Shop, we met up with a Street Soccer USA family member Carter Jordan. He connected us with his buddy Ben who shared his home with us. He has done some hiking trips like this on his own with his precious dog so he knew just how important finding hospitality along your journey is. Thank you Ben, Ginny (dog’s name is short for Virginia) Margaret and Carter for making Richmond a wonderful stay.
All of our hosts along the way have played a huge role in us making it this far (416 miles) because without a roof over our head, a warm shower and warm clothes we would all be so cranky that nobody, not even the most dedicated riders, would want to be around us.