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Sean had mentioned that he would be up around 8 and if we were around he would make us pancakes. It was really tempting to do so but with another hot day scheduled and a long ride ahead of us we reluctantly declined. So it was that we were up around 6 and out by 7 after a bowl of oatmeal.

I took the chance to ride a little around where we had stayed as with blog duties I hadn’t been out exploring as much as I’d have liked to. Monument Avenue had been recommended by several people who knew we were going to Richmond and being so close we had to take the minor detour along it. It made for an interesting start to what I was expecting to be a ride mainly along big roads. I turned out to be right in a way I hadn’t imagined.

We rode out of Richmond and up US1 with little more excitement than sitting at a turn only on left arrow junction for a few minutes waiting for it to come up. After 3 cycles of the lights we figured it wasn’t coming and went on the next green. We turned off US1 near Ashland to pull in to a Walmart to clean our bikes, C’s chain had started squeaking, and pick up some snacks. Walmart has anti bacterial towelettes which are meant to be used to wipe down your trolley before use. We found them and decided they would do a great job of wiping our chains down so I spent 15 minutes and C spent an hour as she wanted an incredibly shiny bike.

Heading out, our bikes were much quieter and mine seemed slightly faster. The wonders of bike maintenance!
I really need to do it more often but my passion for procrastinating doesn’t really help. All was good until we started going up a climb and TWANG. Having heard the sound 3 times before I was well aware what it was and so after cresting the hill pulled over and set about fixing it.

The bags all got taken off and C removed the rear wheel to let it down while I was getting a new spoke out. Hmmm… I have 9 spokes and they all seem to be the same length, not a good sign. I use 238mm spokes on my rear and 263mm on the front and had apparently only brought 3 rear spokes with me. As this was the fourth spoke to break I had nothing to replace it with. I told C she should stop taking things off and that it was time to get her thumbing skills on the go. I was impressed with my acceptance of this as after the 3rd one broke I was seething.

C stood up and tried to thumb down a lift. She had experience as during her uni days had hitched from London to Morocco for charity. Even though we were on US1, it ran parallel to I95, so the majority of traffic was only local. In an hour or so of trying we had two people pull over, a cyclist called Brian and a guy in an SUV. Brian was out on a training ride as he was wanting to do a triathlon. He stopped and spoke to us, but not having any spare spokes couldn’t do much. He tried to call a friend of his, but as there was an Xterra event going on he didn’t answer. He suggested heading back to Ashland and recommended a bike shop. We thanked him and he cycled off. The guy in the SUV was just out shopping but said he’d come back later if we hadn’t been able to find a lift from anyone else.

After the hour I decided that we should call Kate, our host for the night, and explain that we’d be late. I wanted to push our bikes a couple of miles down the road to the junction with the I95 so we would have a lot more traffic and increase our chances of getting a lift. But who knew how long that would take. I called and explained our situation and, after talking it over with her boyfriend, Kate told us to sit down for about an hour as there were a few things they needed to do but that they’d drive down to pick us up. We were amazed and incredibly grateful. We sat down and I pulled out the laptop to work on the blog.

About an hour later, Kate and Brian arrived. She was in her SUV and he was in what we would later learn was known as the Taliban Truck. Our bags went in her SUV and bikes in the back of his pickup truck and got driven up to Fredericksburg. We were told that the SUV had AC so we both got in that and spent the next 40 minutes talking to Kate. It turned out that they had woken up not long before the call so the things they’d needed to do included having breakfast. We felt bad for disturbing their morning, but both Kate and Brian seemed more than happy to help.

On arriving in Fredericksburg we unpacked and Brian headed off to his place to get ready for work. Kate and C popped to the butchers to get some chicken and made lunch, a delicious DIY chicken salad, while I played with Kate’s cat which was also called Charlotte. After lunch we napped and, when I woke up, Brian came over. We were asking lots of historical questions so Brian took us on a tour of the town allowing us to see some of the things he was talking about. Kate lived quite close the middle so it was convenient to walk around and see the downtown area. During the tour it started to rain and we realised just how small a town it was when 2 minutes later we were back at Kate’s where we got ready and headed off to the supermarket to get food for dinner.

Brian lived with Wade downstairs in their boss’s house and had access to a rotissrrie, so we bought 4 chickens from Wegmans. As with other supermarkets we had been to, Wegmans had a very large selection of beers to pick from. Brian asked me what I wanted but I had nothing in mind and the choice was overwhelming so he picked up a few of his favourites.

On arriving at Brian’s house the first thing that both C + I did was take a picture of the weapons he had on his wall. Guns are a big part of the culture here and there is a big wooded area behind their house that they can hunt in. It’s still a bit strange for us to see so we tend to notice them.

We got the chickens out and Wade + Brian prepared them. It looked like they were very experienced so we let them do it while C, Kate and I sorted out the corn and potatoes. Wade took them upstairs and over the next couple of hours they cooked while we talked and I kept an eye on game 6 of the Heat v Mavericks, a close game until LeBron and the Heat failed miserably again in the 4th quarter.

Brian had mentioned that he thought that life was too short to eat badly and proved it with his cooking. It was a really enjoyable evening with scrumptious food. The rotisserie and their simple method of preparation made for much more tender and flavourful chicken than I usually eat.

While standing around talking Brian also introduced us to his shotgun which blew C + my minds. He leant down, opened a drawer and pulled out what he called his “just in case” shotgun. He explained that it was for situations when you need a shotgun quickly. I guess that means that if someone breaks in to your house but the idea of treating a gun like I’d treat a can opener was very alien.

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