October 9:  Fredericksburg to Ashland  53.7 miles if done right -- 63.4 miles by this author!

The nor'easter has blown out to sea and left us for the second day with beautiful skies and warm temperatures.  The exit out of Fredericksburg put us temporarily with the rush hour traffic.  However, if one read the map correctly within a mile or two one was in the Fredericksburg Military Park pedaling through history (Civil War, that is) with only one or two cars sharing the roadway.  For those of us that didn't read the map -- we got to climb a long hill, ride a four lane highway and meet several new very interesting locals who promptly instructed us to turn around and go back down the hill!!

Now making this technical error early into the ride is very easy to rationalize.  When one is faced with a long steep hill, it is called tuck the head down, look only about fifteen feet in front as to not psych oneself out by the length of the hill, and pedal with full gusto.  In this position it is hard to see any side streets or signs pointing the way.  So up the hill, ask where you are, and down the hill!!!

Once back on track the scenery in the park was fantastic.  It is predominately rolling hills covered with woods interspersed with historical markers and relics from the Civil War.  Even the name of the main artery through the park rings of historical significance = Lee Drive.  

Back out onto the roads of Virginia and into the countryside.  Virginia has a great method of naming their side roads.  Rather than give them names that only the locals would recognize, the state numbers them.  Two digits are major roads, three are tributaries, and four digits could turn to gravel.  We like those three digit ones.  Very little traffic, rolling countryside and good surface -- what more could a biker ask for!!

We are headed toward Richmond through an area of the country that is rich in history from the Civil War.  The towns are few and far between, sometimes only a sign designating a crossroad as town "A", but the roads are doted with markers telling the stories of long ago.  On one roadway we learned that Stonewall Jackson's Ambulance used it as its route.  Now Stonewall was a Confederate General under General Robert E Lee.  After the Battle of Fredericksburg he moved his headquarters to Chancellorsville to ready for the next attack.  Unfortunately while briefing his officers he was accidentally shot by "friendly fire"  The 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment was responsible for  delivering the three .57 caliber bullets. He was taken to a field hospital near the battlefield, where his left arm was amputated.  The field hospital is long gone, but the route is paved and part of the US 1 bike route!!

About ten miles outside of Ashland we crossed over the US 76 route, that is now called the Transamerican Bike Route.  We had done that one last year (go to Rapp on the Road and click on the Virginia bike ride).  The route runs for the Atlantic to the Pacific. 

Twisting and turning, coasting and cruising, pedaling and panting up the hills, and then as the sun was sinking into the horizon the sight of the motel was a delight.  The days are getting shorter, the air a little cooler even when the temperature says in the 70s, and the fields a little browner as we move through October.  The leaves in this area are changing but slower than farther north.  The maples have that reddish look but the oaks still remain green.  What has changed is the earth -- in this area the soil is beginning to get that reddish tone from all the clay.  The pine needles cover the ground with a brownish hue.  Mix that with the earth tones and you have a glorious sight. 

Frankie in Military Park

Frankie on The Road!

Swollen River as a Result of the Nor'easter

Typical View of the Forest

Our Route Signs!!