Day 6: Sometimes the challenge-du-jour appears where you least expect.
Navigating the hotel elevator: By 8:30AM, I would need two trips down the elevator from my 2nd floor hotel room, to get my luggage to the luggage truck (trip #1), and my bicycle to the outdoor world (trip #2). Trip #1 was easy. My luggage had wheels, and despite the fact that it felt heavier each day – at least the beast rolled.
All was going well during trip #2 (the bicycle). Except for one problem. I was also trying to hold a cup of coffee. Not just any cup of Joe. It had been a week since I had tasted good coffee. I clung to this caffeine treasure, and convinced myself I could also navigate the hotel elevator with my bicycle.
I boarded the elevator with my bicycle (front wheel first), and even managed to hold my bike, hold my coffee and press the “Lobby” button. Suddenly my front headlight fell off the bike and landed on the elevator floor. I stared at it – but that did nothing to return the headlight to my bike. I would have to somehow hold my bike, hold my coffee, bend over and pick up the light.
The elevator door opened as I reached the Lobby – but I couldn’t exit. I hadn’t figured out how to pick up my headlight. Now the doors have closed and the elevator is going back up. I had visions that I would be spending the day in the elevator. And, no – the thought hadn’t crossed my mind to abandon my coffee.
At the 4th floor, a lovely lady got on. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind holding onto my bike while I retrieved my headlight. She was apparently new to holding onto bicycles, and as soon as I let go, my bike crashed to the elevator floor. I managed to retrieve the headlight, but now had to pick up my bike, without spilling my coffee and some how re-arrange the wheels so that I could exit.
Reaching the lobby for the 2nd time, the elevator doors open, and the lovely lady departed. Unfortunately, I could not drag the bicycle out before the doors closed – so I travel back up to the 4th floor. Nobody gets on. I spend my solo elevator time trying to come up with a new game plan. If I could only get the front wheel of my bike closer to the elevator door. I work on re-positioning my bicycle while descending back to the Lobby and the doors open once again.
The third opening of the elevator doors at the Lobby was the proverbial charm. A fellow cyclist waiting to hop on the elevator offers to hold my coffee, hold the elevator door and I handed him the loose headlight for good measure. I dragged my bike away from the confines of the elevator, returned to sipping my coffee, and pretended that none of this happened.
Mostly trail riding would mark the finale of our week long bicycle tour that began in Fredericksburg VA and will end in Raleigh NC. Before we had time to think about our legs feeling heavier than usual, we were back to our daily ritual. Water – check. Nuts and nutrients – check. Power source for the GPS – check. Bike tires full of air – check. By 9AM – we departed downtown Durham and headed for the American Tobacco Trail.
Our start in Durham included an additional group of cyclists (40-50) from the Raleigh/Durham area. This more than doubled the size of our cycling group and added much needed local knowledge along the trails. 47 miles of riding would be mostly on a network of trails that ranged from paved, sandstone and gravel between Durham and Raleigh. The added infusion of local knowledge will help to keep us on course. We cycled through beautiful natural preserves and a few of the highlights included a beaver dam that had been transformed by dozens of sun-bathing turtles, and a blue heron who posed for a photo op.
We were treated to a 2 rest stops which added much needed fuel to continue pedaling – with food choices ranging from pickles and fruit…to PB sammies and cookies. And if that wasn’t enough, our fabulous SAG support driver Jeannie made sure that we had a taste of ‘cold chocolate’ (i.e. peppermint patties on ice). There is nothing quite like cold chocolate on a hot day of cycling.
You know that your body is in need of a ‘break’ when the hills, take everything you have to reach each summit. While the hills did not appear any larger than prior days of cycling, they felt much harder. Fortunately, today’s ride – as well as prior rides – included great riders with great conversation. The conversation distracts your thoughts from the physical challenges, and before we knew it we were riding into the city limits of Raleigh.
As I got off of my bicycle, and prepared to hop on a bus to return back to Fredericksburg – I couldn’t help but to savor the moment. Our group of 36 bicycled 340+ miles (includes detours and getting lost mileage) in 6 days. We traveled thru the remnants of Hurricane Jo, rode through busy cities and towns that were rich in history. We traveled though country roads, and rural trails and city trails and shared stories with those whose paths we crossed. Every day, we woke up and began a new adventure. Each day unfolded one pedal rotation at a time. Each photo op was masked in curiosity and an appreciation that sounded like “wow – how cool is that?”. Each day wound down with collective story telling – sharing in the discoveries of the day.
Weather you knew your fellow riders before the tour or not, you learned something new, something more about each other as the rides continued. It was very easy to be inspired by this group of ECG WAY Tour riders — they have diverse, fascinating lives – and carry a torch that is bright and full of energy. So thrilled to be a part of this year’s Week-A-Year tour, and looking forward to more.
Route: Durham NC to Raleigh NC (47 miles)