Day 1 - Charlottesville to Harrisonburg VA
Weather: Upper 60 & humid to start. Upper 70s & rain showers to end.
As described by one of the riders, today was a drippy kinda day. High humidity + high dew + substantial climbing = drippy. You can solve that equation for yourself. The rain at the end of the day felt rather nice even though it wasn’t terribly hot. Forecasts talked about scattered thunderstorms around Harrisonburg. While the rain did appear, the lightning did not. No complaints.
We rolled around 7:45 after taking the official group photo in our official America by Bicycle 2016 jerseys. It was a very relaxed start for most of these riders. Many were accustomed to the crack of dawn approach used on our cross country or long distance regional tours. This one is a little different. We try to take the time to smell the roses and spend less time focusing on hammering into the next town. We also try to get up after sunrise. It might take time but I think they’ll adjust. This is a vacation. A cycling vacation with a fair amount of work but this is a vacation.
The route headed out of Charlottesville and quickly made its way into ranch land, mostly horses with a few cows & longhorns. The scenery was green & a bit wet (see above). Lush fields of grass or hay stretched out towards the mountains in the background. It was beautiful and caused many a rider to stop frequently to take pictures.
Our main climb of the day started around mile 23. One hairpin turn to the left & it was a stiff uphill for the better part of 7 miles. Ok, there was some downhill for 2 miles but it didn’t seem like much to the riders working their way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and our one SAG stop of the day. The last mile was one of those in your face kind of climbs that kept going even when it tried to deceive you & get your hopes up that it was going to flatten out around the next corner. Stop sign & turn - it must ease up! Not so, it seemed to say, with a quiet “bwaaahahaha” as we continued up towards Rockfish Gap. Some of us called it enjoyable. Others rolled their eyes when they heard that description. All agreed it was a challenge and one that will prep us for more to come on this tour.
After the SAG, it was downhill and back into the rollers. Most of the hills of a reasonable variety. Some of the hills of the “in your face” variety. All surrounded by beautiful farmland and views of the mountains. A little rain to make the bikes a little dirty and we were into the hotel in Harrisonburg.