Day 50 Martinsburg WV to Harrisonburg VA

It was a long hot and windy day of riding. Effective temperatures around 100 F and cross/head winds at ten to fifteen mph pretty much all day. I knew it would be a hard day as soon as I came out of the motel this morning. It was already hot at 8:30 AM! Tonight I'm in an 'economy' motel just north of Harrisonburg. It cost me $35 cash (into the owners pocket..) and it has good air conditioning. I'm very thankful not to be camping in this weather. Tomorrow is forecast as another 100 to 105 effective temp day (last time I rode through here effective temps were 110!), but then things are supposed to improve. I'll believe it when I feel it!

Riding through Martinsburg was both fun and a bit sad. It was neat old WV city and it still has some of that flavor, but it is losing it to 'development.' I had breakfast (and bought bagels) at Dunkin Donuts. Lot of folks from Martinsburg were getting breakfast there, but it didn't feel like the Dunkin Donuts in Danville PA where lots of folks sit around and visit. This was the get breakfast and eat in the car on the way to work crowd.

After Martinsburg, 11 goes through some nice smaller towns on its way to Virginia. The most interesting thing, for me, was that in the Bunker Hill area, the schools were Musselman High and Musselman middle and Musselman elementary and the high school teams were 'applemen.' It took me a while to remember Musselman Apple Sauce. They must support that school system rather well.

In Virginia, 11 becomes easier riding, although it isn't bad in West Virgina - just hilly and a bit narrow. I stopped at a service station just inside the border for a snack and then rode on towards Winchester. I've ridden into Winchester twice from the north, and I know the intersections where the interstates and the old roads converge are lousy for bicycling, but today was especially bad. You have to cross multiple lanes of heavy traffic which has just come off an interstate in order to make a left exit onto 11. It wasn't fun and some motorists were not happy with me for attempting it, but there isn't any way to avoid if you come on 11 from the north. The folks who designed that mess obviously didn't consider bicyclists or pedestrians. Of course with the traffic today, it was also hard for cars and, especially, for big trucks.

Once past that bit, Winchester is an easy town to bicycle through. As in most of Virginia, except the parts near Washington, drivers were polite to me and to each other and traffic, which was a bit heavy, wasn't a problem. I had thought to stop in Winchester, but, perhaps because the traffic was heavy, ended up riding on through and stopping at a Day's Inn (I figured they would be nice and they were) to refill my water bottles. I was hurting from the heat and humidity even though I did drink lots of water, so I stopped again a convenience store before Middletown to buy, and drink, a quart of gatorade. That really helped.

I also stopped at Cedar Creek Battlefield to photograph the information and the flag which was pretty stiff in the wind from the west. Shortly after that, 11 turns due west, becomes divided four lane just after crossing Cedar Creek, and climbs a hill before crossing I-81. That climb was a pain into the headwind, but, like many climbs today, would probably have been worse without it. The wind felt warm, but it still evaporated some of the sweat and cooled me a bit. That was the case all day long.

Hill South of Strasburg

The Blue Ridge

I stopped in Strasborg at a tavern for lunch (pretty good) and later in Mount Jackson for a second lunch. In between I stopped at a convenience store in Woodstock to get some more gatorade, but their prices were so high I went across the street and climbed up to a grocery store where I bought half a gallon of powerade for less than the other store wanted for a quart of gatorade and, because of those schools, a six pack of Mussleman apple sauce. I drank about a third of the powerade and put the rest in my water bottles and ate two of the apple sauce servings before I left the grocery store. Actually I had stopped at that same store two years ago in order to find some biking food on a Sunday morning. I ate another of the apple sauce servings and two bagels for supper tonight.

On a more cultural, and less culinary, note; there is a tremendous amount of civil war history right along side this section of US 11. I stopped to read about many battles and to look out on fields where they were fought. There are also lots of old buildings (pre 1800) and plenty of interesting places to stop.

I almost stopped for the night just before New Market, at a motel that is next to that famous battlefield. Instead I decided I could make it to Harrisonburg, my planned destination, and pressed on. The way I felt an hour or so later when I was still ten miles from Harrisonburg, I should have stopped at New Market. It is hard riding in this heat and, although it cools, the wind slows down the riding and makes me do more work. I was exhausted by the little more than 90 miles I did today. It took almost 8 hours of actual pedaling to cover that distance - I averaged less than 12 mph.

The motel I'm in is one of the few surviving motels on 11. It is a large motel that was undoubtedly part of some big name chain when 11 was the main road though this part of the country. My room is typical of a Day's Inn or the like. It a bit threadbear and the hot water keeps running in the tub and the shower doesn't work too well, but it is certainly a good buy for $35. I stopped here because it was the first motel I came to in Harrisonburg. I was too wiped out to care about much other than getting out of the heat. When I went into the office, a man carrying a baby also came in. He saw the sign requiring a drivers license ID (this is not a high class establishment!) and said "Shit, they want a drivers license." Then he went back out to his car and drove away...

I've already (it took a couple of tries) checked my email, so now, if I can get a line out, I'll send out this report.

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