Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Saturday, March 08, 2008
Hopewell, VA to South Hill, VA
54 miles (436 total miles)

Another bike breakdown today - this one more serious and it looks like we may be stuck in South Hill, VA for a couple of days. Details below.

We were sad to leave John and Diana's warm and loving home; it was touching to look back as we rode off and see John tagging along in his motorized wheelchair to make sure we got on the road all right. Last night's weather reported a tornado watch until noon and gusty winds (20-30 mph) after that. We started out in a drizzle which turned into a heavier rain a little later, but the rain didn't last long. It was windy and hilly, but once the rain stopped, it was bright and sunny and the riding was very pleasant. We managed to get lost where Route 1 split from 301 (we didn't see any sign for Route 1) but very luckily found out before too long when we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts (they consistently have great restrooms) and chatted with a guy there who set us straight. He also told us about a famous church along the way back and we managed to get a few pictures of the old cemetery around the church, even though it was raining harder by then. The church was too far back to get a good picture of it.

We stopped for lunch at a nice restaurant (hard to find on Route 1; there were very few places to stop for food or restrooms). There was an historical marker across the street from the restaurant saying it was in Brunswick County, home of the Brunswick Stew. We didn't see squirrel on the menu at all, though. By the time we left the restaurant around 1 pm, the gusty winds had started up. A number of people at the restaurant warned us about them and wished us well, although clearly thinking we were totally insane. Of course, we were heading straight into the wind, but the traffic was very light as it had been all day, and we did pretty well just grinding along and taking short breaks every 5 miles or so. We don't have a lot to show for today - between the rain and the wind, the photo ops were not interesting enough to warrant stopping and taking a picture. The scenery remained pretty much the same as it had been in VA - pine woods, open fields, a few houses and farms, some rundown, some very nice.

Earlier, when it had been raining, we started to hear a funny clicking noise from the bike. We stopped a couple of times but couldn't see where it was coming from and everything seemed to be working ok, so we kept going. It wasn't a very loud noise and was intermittent so we hoped we could make it to South Hill and find a bike shop there. There didn't seem to be any other options at the time. When we were about 15 miles from South Hill and feeling pretty smug about the progress we were making, the noises suddenly got more insistent. We got off and finally managed to see what was causing them. The free wheel shaft was wobbling badly, and as we were trying to figure out what to do with it, it froze up completely and we no longer able to pedal forward. We managed to flag down a generous soul with a pickup truck, Sam Piper, who lived nearby. He rode home, unloaded his truck and came back for us. We put the bike and gear in his truck and he drove us to South Hill and made sure we were settled before going off again without wanting anything for all his time and effort.

Pat had called our tandem guy in NJ, Mel, and he thought the part would have to be replaced. There do not seem to be any bike shops of any kind for miles around. Mel's trying to get a tandem dealer from nearby NC to get us a part. Naturally, all this had to happen around 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon and we have no idea yet when we'll be able to get the part or get it installed (a car or motorcycle shop might be able to do that), so we'll be doing walking tours of lovely South Hill until we can get going again. So much for being on schedule!

Pat goes out to check the weather in front of John & Diana's house

John watches the preparations from his front door

Petersburg historical marker in front of the Blandford Church

The Blandford Church historical marker

The Blandford Church, toward the back of the cemetery

A small part of the huge cemetery

Other elaborate gravestones in the cemetery

Two views of the road and the roiling clouds along Route 1

The bike leans against a parked logging truck to keep from falling over

The Brunswick Stew marker

A church with nice stained glass windows near Alberta

Route 1 divided by a nice median

Alberta, VA where our bike called it quits for the day