Thursday, 13 May 2010

First Day On The Road

I’m sat at a camp site on the banks of the Chickahominy River, 7 miles west of Jamestown VA, on what has been a great first day on the Trans Am.
Leaving the sanctuary of the Holiday Inn and riding my bike out onto some busy fast roads was a baptism of fire, but so far I’ve been rather impressed with the attitude of American drivers towards cyclists, the Brits could learn a few lessons!

Having accidentally binned my Google Maps route map from the hotel to Yorktown, I relied upon my legendary photographic memory to lead me onto the correct road. Within 30 minutes I was lost! Later, with directions from a Park Ranger I was soon heading off road through a woodland cycle track and I eventually arrived at George Washington's camp site used during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781

This formed the start of an historical trail down into Yorktown. My knowledge of American history is dire and I pulled up next to the French cemetery and further along the French gun batteries and asked myself the ignorant question…. What were the French doing here? I’ll have a Wikipedia session when time allows and find out.

Cycling into Yorktown it seemed like I new the place; my research had involved reading lots of Trans Am Blogs from other riders and they all had the standard Yorktown monument picture at the beginning, or end of their Blog, so here's mine. Kindly taken by two Dutch girls who I met at the monument, who were also starting their Trans Am today
There is also the small matter of the rear wheel dip in the Atlantic, for which I called upon the photographic expertise of the Dutch Transamers once again.

After taking the photo I slyly tried to glean more info about the French and their big guns, to fill my knowledge deficit, without appearing to be thick. It was greeted with a shrug as they had also visited the French cemetery and gun batteries and asked the same question. May be the Dutch National Curriculum is the same as the UK’s, or the three of us happened to be taking a sicky off school on the day they did the “French Blast Big Guns In America circa 17c” lesson! Answers on a postcard please!!

Formalities over and done with I did a few laps of Yorktown soaking up it’s amazing historic buildings and then took to the Colonial Park Way, a lorry free route that hugs the coastline of the York river before heading inland to Williamsburg and Jamestown. The road was nice and wide, tree lined and punctuated with tidal inlets and wading birds.

Thinking I had probably seen enough olde worlde American houses in Yorktown, I almost bypassed Williamsburg, glad I didn’t! The place is a town stopped in time, early 1600’s I think (damn day off school showing me up again)! Everyone is dressed in authentic period costumes and the many buildings that form the town have all been restored to there original glory. This could have quite easily been tourist tat but it was truly a living museum and time machine.

Leaving Williamsberg an oldish American couple stopped me and asked how far I had rode, I told them and then explained my plans and they were just overjoyed, it was a real z list celebrity moment and we chatted for some time. Really made my day and as I headed down into the edge of Jamestown I was grinning all over my face.

I didn’t explore Jamestown as I really had od’d on history but instead headed towards the Capital Trail, a partially complete designated cycle route through some lovely countryside. This route took me to the camp site I’m at tonight.

Thinking my day was probably all done I had a last surprise when two cyclist arrived on the camp site and introduced themselves as Jack and Sue, the advance guard and organisers of a cycle touring group who were on a weeks “learn how to cycle tour” course. They invited me over for dinner and I popped by for a hotdog and beans and had a good chat with the group. They were a lovely bunch and it really made my evening. They were really interested in my trip and Jim the group leader is a Trans Am vet and gave me a few good accommodation and general touring tips. My Rohloff hub also grabbed the attention of a few of the group who had never seen one.

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my trip, I’ve already seen the legendary generosity of the American people and the scenery has been stunning. Lets see what tomorrow brings.

Night yawl

(Tune in next time for the 60 mile 90 degree scorcher with Tony from Oregon, who lands us in a beautiful all American family home for the night and we even get taken out for dinner! Lifes tough on the road)


  1. Awesome first day Bro....Crack on

  2. Congrats on your first day Stu, we're all following your blogs avidly! Cheers Sarah

  3. What a wicked day!
    An the french were the colonies allies in defeating the brtitish, integral to the birth of the usa.

  4. Sounds like a great start to a real adventure Mr Woolgar have fun and remember people 'lets be careful out there' (hill st blues if u were wondering)

  5. Wow what a day. I'm exhausted just reading about it! Sounds like you've made a great start Stu. Already looking forward to reading the next instalment. Have fun.

  6. oh, stu, it sounds absolutely amazing.what a brilliant start.i'm so proud to know you. keep up the good work. i look forward to reading the next update. it's great to see some photos aswell. well done. x x x cheryl

  7. Great first day by the sounds of it. The first of many I'm sure! (I rode in on the Colonial Parkway at the end of my Trans-Am 3 years ago)!

  8. Great to see you've started your journey. Good luck!

  9. you are so lucky and am happy for you, stu.

    happy trails!

    peace :)


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