Night Riding in Shenandoah Valley

Whenever we mentioned stopping at Staunton we were given two tips. Shenandoah Pizza and The Split Banana were must eat locations in the town. After making coffee while our tent dried we cruised into town; originally looking for the visitors center we got distracted by the library and the prospect of free internet. Our base camp for the next several hours I hacked away at the keyboard trying to dig us out of the writing and uploading hole we were in. Meanwhile Amanda had to keep and eye on our locked bikes; a certain extra fragrant man kept eyeing up our panniers.

Marathon library session finished and Amanda’s patience fully tested we loaded up and rode down the hill to downtown. A chat with the mail carrier about where downtown was exactly and which route was best resulted in us understanding that in Staunton, downtown is down the hill! Attempting to navigate the traffic and hilly streets on our wobbly bikes I noticed a gentleman taking pictures of us.

Crossing the street we learned that he is a photographer and recreational cyclist trying to promote cycling in Staunton and the surrounding communities. We posed for a few more photos before making our way onto Beverly St. Pumpkin gelato and two slices of very, very good Stauton Margarita pizza later we rode up to see the Woodrow Wilson House and Museum.

Stauton is a nice town, we passed through before and is worth looking into a bit more. We headed out on Rt. 252 a rural road we learned about from our photographer friend and rode south aiming for Lexington. Route 252 was a pleasure, we rode and rode on some of the best cycling in the Valley thus far, 32 miles barely any cars and endless cows.

We turned on Rt. 39 and almost immediately we were flagged down by a fellow cyclist, he pulled over to tell us the road we were on was extremely dangerous and gave us a bunch of tips. We appreciate the gesture and the acts of kindness. The sky was starting to grow darker and it looked like it was going to be another night ride. Amanda finally got service and had a voicemail from a prospective warm showers host. She called back and found out that we could stay with them, however it was 12 miles away.

Turning off the death-trap road we were on we wound our way through all manner of back roads, including gravel. Finally turning onto Rt. 11, our favorite kind of road, which quickly took us into the heart of VMI and Lexington. We hadn’t eaten yet and our host already had dinner, so a quick stop at Dominoes for some cheap, quick calories. The pizza was devoured in less than 10 minutes.

Riding in the dark is never fun, but we are only equipped with one adequate headlight and taillight. The other set we have is basically useless. Despite the dark windy roads we finally made it to our hosts house at 8pm, that’s 90 minutes after the sun set! They showed us to our respective bedrooms and we had sweet-tea and coffee ice cream.

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