Monday, December 8, 2008

Virginia Eastern Shore Permanent: Wonderful Ride Lost in Place, Time, Translation

For those of us who want to believe . . . Yes, Virginia, there is an Eastern Shore.

And now, thanks to Keith, who's on a 300k brevet here last year, there’s also an Eastern Shore Permanent for all of us to enjoy. Thank you, Keith!

Keith has fashioned a great, year-round route. One stretch, in fact, is officially designated by VDOT as a scenic route.

I was thoroughly spoiled on the inaugural ride this past Saturday, thanks to Keith, who literally pulled me up and down the peninsula. You can read his ride report on his blog.

Before I could ride the Permanent, I had to ask myself, “Where is it?”

When I pulled out a map, I could see that the Eastern Shore somehow got separated from the Virginia mainland. What’s up with that?

So, I had to ask myself, “How do I get there?” Well, I discovered several options: fly; boat; bridge; or enter by way of Maryland.

How do you suppose these boys and gulls get there?

I chose the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. In part, it’s a car-tunnel allowing big ships like these currently parked at sea to sail into and out of Chesapeake Bay.

Caboose I spotted the evening before the ride at the Cape Charles Historical Museum. I fully expected to see it somewhere on the peninsula the next day. Well, perhaps not. But there’s truly a palpable quaintness to the Eastern Shore as if transported back in time. This is part of its allure.Although our predawn start was chilly, with temps just below freezing, it nonetheless guaranteed us a beautiful sunrise. A slight 5-10 mph headwind resisted us most of the day, that is, until dusk.

Yes, the Dark Monster caught us. Although there is an intuitive appeal to be home by dark, my limited experience at randonneuring has taught me not to be afraid. Dusk is a magical time to ride after a long day in the saddle. A reward, in fact.

The world is finally at peace with itself at dusk. You are alone. You glide along. A sense of accomplishment looms large as the last few kilometers melt away. And it is at this point, like the legendary Adrian, that you want the ride to last forever. But you know it must end. You’re tired, hungry, and thirsty. But you summon the energy to press on until you reach the goal.

Winter is a special time to ride, and I learned a few lessons about the cold. Next time, I’ll protect my face not covered with a balaclava with Vaseline to prevent wind burn. Power bars become too hard to bite in the cold.

On the other hand, Keith was prepared. Check out the flask. Keith explained it was a lot easier than bringing along the St. Bernard, even on a Surly LHT.

Along the route, the names of towns symbolize their historical past, places like Onley, Onancock, Wachapreague, and Nassawadox. Modest Town and Temperanceville sit next to Assawoman. What?

Keith conducted some research. Turns out, “assawoman” is an Algonquin word. But no one today seems to know its meaning. My personal take? I’m betting that the Algonquins knew more English than they let on. But that’s just my opinion.

Indeed, the Virginia Eastern Shore is wonderfully lost in time and translation. And definitely worth a ride.


bullcitybiker said...

What about "Assarider?" Way to go, Dean, and good stuff!

dean furbish said...

Hah . . . ! Come to think of it, I did see one guy on the route in a blue windbreaker and a chic, yellow reflective sash that may have fit that description!