As it turns out Martinsville, VA is not really that great of a place. I typically use the back or side doors when I load and unload my gear from the bike; I like to avoid taking my dirty gear past the owners in the lobby. The side door at this place had a shopping cart full of garbage next to it, there were cameras everywhere and a sign on the door stating it was locked after 11:00 pm for guest’s safety.
In addition to all of that, I noticed this message on the inside of my room’s door:
The parking lot was THE place to be the previous night. People kept hanging around the place and going around the back to where the door I used to unload was. Many were “visibly under the influence” as the cops would say. Under the influence of what; who knows? I’d left my tank panniers, my iPhone holder and charging cable on the bike. I was positive none of them would be there in the morning; but I wasn’t about to go out and get them. Frankly, I wasn’t so sure the bike would be either. I just went to bed; I figured there wasn’t anything I could do about it and I’d just cross that bridge when we got there. Much to my surprise though everything was there when I went out the next morning.
There was light rain when I woke up; but it cleared pretty quickly. I loaded up and headed off. I rode through Martinsville; I was just outside the city limits when I noticed GPS was messed up again. This time instead of missing the track I was missing a map of the entire State of Virginia. I was following a black line through the middle of nowhere.
The nice thing about the Blue Ridge Parkway was that there were plenty of pull offs and overlooks along the road. Eventually you were bound to find one that was private enough to pull out your laptop and upload tracks in. Now I was just making my way across country roads in Virginia; there weren’t many options for the privacy.
I convinced myself I didn’t need a map. I’d already come through plenty of places that simply didn’t have any roads for the map to show. I’d just followed the line and figured out where it was supposed to go. Surely doing this again with actual roads rather than dirt paths would be easier.
I was indeed correct and everything was going well until I rolled into Clover, VA. The tracks said hang a left but the sign on the road said “Road Closed, 5 Miles, Local Traffic Only”. Since I didn’t have a map and my phone reception was pretty spotty I decided to just give it a shot. Most of the time when it says “local traffic only” the road is actually open and you can pass right through; in such cases asking for forgiveness is sometimes easier than asking for permission. This is doubly true when you’re lost. This time however, that wasn’t the case; I rode the 5 miles down the road, around the “Road Closed” signs (which were inconveniently placed right in the middle of the damn road) and up to a bridge that was indeed closed. The bridge was completely passable except for all of the jersey barriers completely blocking off access to it. I wanted to grab a picture but there were a few less than happy construction workers on it that started to walk my direction. That was my cue…
While I was riding down the road to the closed bridge I’d noticed a truck had turned off onto another road about a mile or two back. That must be the detour, right? I made my way back to it. I followed it for a little while until it came up to Staunton River Battlefield State Park. I was lost; the battlefield seemed like a fine place to pull over and load my Virginia map.
While I was waiting for the map to load I saw this walking bridge that appeared to cross the river. After much contemplation I decided against using it to cross. There had to be a detour back in Clover so I turned around ahead headed back.
When I got back to Clover I found that the detour wasn’t well marked, but if I had made a right instead of a left when I got into town originally it would have become obvious.
I got back onto my original track and it began rain which meant I didn’t take many photos until I was just outside of Norfolk. My plan was to skip Norfolk entirely; I’d come through there last May and it was confusing in a car with turn by turn GPS. I was staying right across the I-64 bridge so I figured maybe it would be easier to loop through Newport News to get there.
For the record that was a failure on every level; I spent 45 minutes in traffic trying to go the last 5 miles, but I made it. I was almost 99% of the way across the country; on the Chesapeake Bay.
The motel had a classy picture hanging above the bed…
and I needed to write some blog posts so some liquid encouragement was required.
5,353 miles down, 144 to go…