53 miles today, 716 miles total
Highlights: Three bridges, tailwind, sightseeing
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- Elevation profile (max is 82 feet)
Monday, July 2. After two long days I slept in this morning until 7. I’d arranged to meet the escort/ride over the bridge at 10 so I had plenty of time. I set off into downtown Kilmarnock, where I had breakfast at Lee’s. While there an older guy came up to me and we started talking, he and his family had ridden RAGBRAI (one week long ride across Iowa that draws thousands of riders) five times. He took a picture of me outside the restaurant.
At Lee’s Restaurant in Kilmarnock
I headed off toward the village of White Stone and then the Robert Norris bridge over the Rappahannock River. The bridge is almost 2 miles long, and has absolutely no shoulder; even the existing lanes are pretty narrow, having been constructed in 1957. Originally I’d planned to skip the “Northern Neck” (the peninsula between the Potomac and the Rappahannock) because of that, but Edie with the Northern Neck River Ride century told me that the Chamber of Commerce provides escort/ride service across the bridge for cyclists, so I took her up on the offer.
The bridge over the Rappahannock River
When I got to the place just before the bridge starts, where I was meeting my ride, I parked the bike and walked to the nearby shore to get a look at it. It rises up 100 feet above the water. It was also pretty busy, at least 5-10 cars per minute while I was waiting. I was met by Tom who helped me stow my stuff in his SUV and drove me over the bridge. Turns out the escort service is only if you are there very early in the morning; I have to admit I was relieved, it would have been a long slow haul up the bridge. Apparently they are thinking of replacing it with a new modern bridge but that won’t happen for many years.
Waiting for my ride over the bridge
After thanking Tom I continued on my way, heading to Gloucester across the “Middle Neck”. But it turns out there’s another bridge I hadn’t really paid attention to, across the Piankatank River (which I’d never heard of). There were signs saying the bridge was down to one lane, but I assumed it was a small bridge over a creek. When I got to the construction it turned out I was wrong, it’s actually a good sized bridge, the Twigg bridge, also built in the 50s. I got in line and waited with the cars, then went ahead when they went, keeping up a pretty good speed.
At one point though one of the construction guys yells at me that I’m not supposed to be cycling on the bridge and that I’d get a ticket. Since I hadn’t noticed any signs, and the original flag guy had let me pass, I just continued. Then at the next gas station I pulled over and a guy in a car asked me if I’d cycled over the bridge. I said yeah, why? He said there’s a sign that says no pedestrians or bicycles. I really didn’t see it, and I think I was lucky there was construction because the bridge also has no shoulders. I have to say in all the research I did on this route I never came across anything saying bikes weren’t allowed on that bridge, google bike maps doesn’t indicate that, and even now can’t find anything. Oh well…
The next excitement was 10 miles on Rt 17, the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It’s very flat, not a huge amount of traffic, four lane, some wide shoulder, some narrow shoulder. Plus I had a very nice tailwind. So while it wasn’t the most pleasant ride in the world with the traffic, it was nice to be cruising along at 15-20mph. Midway I stopped at a Sonics for a burger and shake — the skating server brought it out to me in their walk-up area, which was covered and was getting a very nice breeze. Then I finished the 10 miles and ended up at my third bridge of the day.
The Coleman Bridge over the York River
This is the George Coleman Memorial Bridge, over the York River. It’s about 3/4 of a mile, about 60 feet of climbing, but it does have a very nice wide shoulder, so this was one bridge that, apart from all the debris on the shoulder, was a nice ride. I took a few pix at the top then headed down and turned toward Yorktown, where I got on the Colonial Parkway.
View from the Coleman Bridge up the York River
This is an old highway, cement with stones embedded so a little bumpy, speed limit 45 and very wide, so it wasn’t a problem. Much of it is shaded, and it’s very gently rolling. I took this all the way to the street in Williamsburg where my hotel is, and got in at 2:45!
Along the Colonial Parkway
It was very nice to have a short day, I took a shower and a nap, then headed out to historic part of town. I walked around — not much going on, it was late and very hot, then stopped at a Mexican restaurant for dinner and a beer.
In Colonial Williamsburg
Another tourist picture
Tomorrow’s the last day, 72 miles including two ferry rides.
Monday July 1
Distance: 52.9 miles
start: 8:15am , finish: 2:40pm
time in saddle: 4 hours, 19 minutes
avg speed 12.2mph
ascent: 1400 ft
weather: sunny, temp: 74-93°F