Day 29 Colonial Heights, VA to Emporia 59 miles 2,510 feet
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
It was barely 67 degrees as I left this morning, but owing to the high humidity level, it felt much warmer. The entrance to the Appomattox River Trail was being blocked by what appeared to be a Mexican Standoff between some Turkey Vultures on the high ground and a flock of Canadian Geese patrolling the actual path. As I approached, the Vultures stood their ground while the geese scattered and allowed me to pass.
I rolled for a couple of miles along the river and noticed the remnants of a pre-Civil War Bridge. The ECG then departed the river via “Royal Oak Avenue” which was actually a very steep rock and pebble driveway. It couldn’t have been more than 100 feet so I gave it a shot. Halfway up I wished I had walked it, but it was too late so I just soldiered on. It would have been a piece of cake on a MTB or a gravel bike with wider, treaded tires. The remainder of the roads for the day were paved and excellent, save for a 2 mile detour on some gravel.
About 5 miles from the hotel I rode by a huge field with a sign indicating it was the site of the Siege of Petersburg, a campaign of trench warfare fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865. Petersburg was a principal supply line for the Confederate army and Richmond so General Grant was determined to capture the town. The Union ultimately prevailed and Robert E Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House. The Union army lost 42,000 men while the Confederate army lost 28,000, it is estimated that as many as 25,000 Confederate troops deserted during the long siege. Aside from the sign, all that remains now is a field filled with 1000’s of acres of clover. We would roll through farmland and forests for most of the day. Scattered along the route were a few original cottage like dwellings. I am not using “cottage” in the Newport, RI sense, these cottages were little more than one room shacks with a single fireplace, wood siding, and a tin roof, laid upon a loose rock foundation. Most of the original structures have been razed and replaced with manufactured homes laid on poured concrete foundations. Many of the modern structures were not much larger than their predecessors.
I saw a much larger assortment of crops today, clover was still the predominant crop but I noticed wine grapes, feed grasses, tobacco, soybeans, and even cotton.
There were a few trees beginning to show their fall color but I noticed that there were many fewer deciduous trees as they were being replaced by pine trees and even some grand southern Magnolias.
About a dozen or so miles of the route wound through a dense pine forest with active logging operations. Logging trucks are every cyclist’s nightmare. The trucks and their cargo usually occupy more than a lane on the highway, frequently use both lanes when turning, and push so much air ahead of them when moving at highway speeds that the wind blast can literally knock a cyclist of their bike.
I forgot to pack carrots or apples this morning so I could not attract any of the horses I encountered to approach me at the fence but I was able to entice an emu with a little whistling.
I did notice today that with the exception of livestock enclosures, there were essentially no fences between or around properties. I enjoyed the unspoiled vistas that this provided but was happy I did not ride past any large territorial dogs. I did notice a sign for Poole’s Fox Hound Training Preserve, according to their website, “Our mission is to encourage and promote the sport of Foxhound training and hunting in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” They are located in the small town of Doodlum, population 34 + 1, marginally larger than Harmony, CA. I suspect that once they hit 50, Doodlum will get their first Starbucks, I don’t think there is a Whole Foods in their future.
Dinner options are slim in Emporia, so we walked over to El Ranchero Mexican Resteraunt, 921 W Atlantic St, Emporia. The restaurant was located inside the Days Inn, but the food was quite authentic and very tasty. The menu ran to 4 pages with way to many choices, so I just went with a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail followed by a ribeye steak smothered with grilled onions.
Ten states down, 5 more to go.
Miles 1,562 Feet Climbed 63,340
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia
For more details on my route, see my Strava Link