The morning was as wonderful as the evening: birds fluttering over head and frogs calling all around me. The GPS didn’t seem to like where I was (military intervention?) but Google maps routed me due south on what looked like forest service roads. In reality, they were USMC highways to different training areas. I was forced (chose) to walk around numerous gates and through several creek crossings (7 in total). At the first stream crossing, I dismounted, put on the crocs and slowly walked the Trucker across. By the third one I had decided to cycle through it, which was a blast. I made it to real roads (all too soon), and headed towards the base. Not to my surprise, but to my chagrin, I wasn’t allowed to ride through the base.
I headed back out and eventually made it to Fredericksburg, where I was planning to visit Blue and Gray Brewery. (Side note: who would win in a battle, a union soldier with one arm, or the rebel with one eye. That’s what’s on there logo.) The beer was good with the IPA being the best. I met another cyclist who was out on a long day ride. We chatted, he gave advice, I told some stories, and he was kind enough to pick up my tab. I love meeting great people. From there I headed to A. Smith Bowman Distillery. It wasn’t on my itinerary but I was told it was located around the corner, so I hopped on the Trucker and rode over. It is a bourbon whiskey distillery which uniquely stores their barrels upright rather than on the side. The whiskey itself was delicious, especially the Abraham.
I continued south on some spectacular roads, following VA Bike Rt 1/Atlantic Coast Trail. At one point, there was a “Road Closed Ahead, Local Traffic Only” sign. I hoped to pass as local traffic and avoid leaving this route. About two miles from the sign, I came to a bridge, or rather the skeleton of a bridge. All that remained were I-beams, rusty and crumbling. After a couple of moments of thought, I decided to walk across to test them out. Success. Back across, unloaded the panniers and walked those across the bridge. With each crossing, I was formulating how I was going to get my bike over the stream. I assumed the stream was fairly shallow and I could survive a fall if I didn’t jack my head on one of the beams. The bike would also hopefully be fine. Not great thoughts but none the less I was determined to cross. Carrying the bike seemed the most dangerous; I opted to push it carefully across. This method worked really well when there were two beams in parallel close enough to walk on: bike on one, me on the other. Then I got to the last of three beam sections and it didn’t have the second parallel beam. It had two much smaller support beams crossed in a X. Mustering my climbing skills of yore, I shuffled out one arm of the X and back the other, using the bike as a point of balance and friction. And we made it. Safely. Some may say stupidly across but it worked for me.
With no possible traffic coming from behind me, I enjoyed three miles of forested roads. A little while later I came to a train crossing, and there were five cars backed up waiting for the train. As the train slowed down, it became apparent that one car would remain in the way of the crossing. It stopped, no cars could pass, but a bike could. Then I enjoyed another three miles of care free riding bringing me to my next stop: the Rusty Beaver.
The Beaver is found in a strip mall area in Ruther Glen, VA. It was originally a VA BBQ, then homebrew store, now small brewery with homebrew supplies and wings. Yes, spicy, rather delicious wings. The only other food is pretzels. I was greeted by Austin, the head brewer, when I arrived. I had called earlier about possible camping spots in the area because I was concerned there wouldn’t be any. Riding into town I realized there were plenty, mostly on large timber land holdings. I got a flight and started a conversation with a guy at the bar who turned out to be the owner. After talking for ten minutes, I was vetted enough to get the invite to stay at his house, which also had a newly established hop farm. I was super excited. (I had been hoping to see the hop farm. It’s on their website as affiliated and I love hops and farms). Rick, the owner, then headed out to the farm while I had numerous more beers and helped Austin close. It was back to the three sink system for a couple of easy minutes. I was consuming a super sessionable beer (blondish cream ale-ish) called the Smashed Bastard. We closed up and headed to the farm where Rick had cooked up a couple of steaks. Its a 17-acre farm with 100 cascade plants and a couple dozen chinook. There’s also a pond, small mill (trees from the property are being sawn for a farm brewery barn), several gardens and a pool. The kitchen was at one point used commercially for Rick’s BBQ business, Viriginia BBQ. It was awesome seeing a Volcan stove, three sink system, grease trap, and commercial dish washer in a house. We then stayed up into the night drinking growlers and bullshitting. It was a great evening.
Published: May 13, 2014