Part of the fun of the ride is the planning and preparation. It is also the visits with friends before heading out. Whether drinks in the kitchen, surrounded by piles of gear and maps, or time on the river for one final pre-ride kayak float, the enthusiasm of friends adds to the anticipation.
I was up at 6am with the plan to pull out at 8. Mother Nature was kind, and the road was dry. Rt 11 is an historic road that runs through Virginia, often parallel to Interstate 81. I avoid the interstate if I can, mostly because state and local roads are more fun to ride in terms of scenery, sweeping curves, small towns, and interesting restaurants. Unfortunately, the “progress” that an interstate brings (chain restaurants and hotels), often means that the scenery, towns, and the great drives / rides, are forgotten.
I had not gone far when I stopped the bike in order to walk over the swinging bridge in Buchanan. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love a bridge, and this one was no exception. ”The Bridge is 366 feet long, 57.5 feet tall and the only one of its type to cross the James River. Portions of the bridge date back to 1851 and in 1999 the Swinging Bridge was recognized as a National Register Historic Landmark”.
This is the bridge that Rt 11 runs across, and frankly, this is one of my most favorite photos of the entire trip.
The road continued on, leading me through Stanardsville and by The Lafeyette Hotel. ”Built in 1840, The Lafayette Inn is a historic landmark. It has served as a community centerpiece of the area accommodating the needs of stage coach travelers and local residents. The building has served as a hotel, restaurant, saloon, boarding house and as a hospital during the Civil War. In more recent times it housed the first Stanardsville telephone exchange and the local newspaper”.
It was on Rt 230, when stopped alongside the road to take a photo, that I had my first offer of help. I love that part of traveling. Folks just want to help. This particular guy, in addition to making sure that I wasn’t lost, wanted to tell me about his travels on his motorcycle.
Soon enough, I was heading up into the mountains and for a short time, the road led me through Shenandoah National Park. Wide sweeping curves and tighter twistier ones made for fun riding!
As I rode on through Madison County, I began to see the first of several wineries (I would have loved to stop for tastings).
The town of Culpepper, in Culpepper County, offered a choice of locally owned restaurants and I ended up at It’s About Thyme. The Brucschetta was delicious!! The folks at the next table recommended a slightly different route than I had mapped out, which I appreciated as my destination for the night was Alexandria.
Alexandria, of course, is located right outside Washington DC, and getting there requires riding some miles on the Capital Beltway system. Thank goodness I am somewhat familiar with the beltway AND that I am not a woman who is easily intimidated. What a network of highways, with an overwhelming number of cars, all running at high rates of speed.
At the end of my travels on those roads, was my dear friend Jan, her hushand Neal, son Luke, a marvelous bottle of wine, and a great dinner, partially prepared by Luke. It was a wonderful evening.
And a fabulous first day on the 2013 Bike Adventure!
Total Miles: 290