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Day 10: Norfolk, VA to Ahoskie, NC


Day 10: Norfolk, VA to Ahoskie, NC (Odometer reads: 79 miles – that’s with faffing and getting lost on the way out of Norfolk. Nail it first time and it’s more like 75 miles.)

Didn’t meet any people today for more than a few minutes at a time so it’s more a purely cycling post today.

Started from the budget motel in Norfolk, VA this morning, and begun the urban navigation with the first goal being to get on to the US. Route 13 highway heading South.

Norfolk is home to Norfolk Naval Base, the largest of it’s kind in the world. So cycling out of the city and over the rivers you get to see a variety of ships being built, dismantled, and repaired including a couple of huge aircraft carriers and some other super-serious looking ships.

As for the cycling in the city, it’s tricky to get to the US-13, as you aren’t allowed to go through some of the tunnels and over some of the bridges. Eventually I found this one and was soon on the way. Riding down the other side of this bridge was incredible – top gear, body low, FAST!

Got on the right route shortly thereafter and was greeted with great roads with wide shoulders. Eventually it went past the edge of The Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge (what a name!), which was great. Swampy, wooded, and autumnal. It does a lot for overall motivation when cycling through inspiring places.

And then it finally happened! At a set of traffic lights on the way through downtown Suffolk, the light turned green, I pedalled about a half-stroke and SNAP! That’ll be the first mechanical issue of the trip – snapped chain.

Fixed it eventually (it’s been a while!) and carried on, sure that it would only last another few minutes before breaking again (thankfully it didn’t). The whole endeavour created some incredibly oily hands.

After cycling out of Suffolk, there was a sign that read ‘NC State Line – 16 miles’. That is motivation in sign form. It’s the little things ‘eh? The landscapes from then on were mainly cotton-fields which were unusual on the eye at first.

Other than the snapped chain, it all seemed to line up today. Flat roads, rested body, and the wind. A perfect North Easterly. I’ve read so much about headwinds being awful (wouldn’t know yet). But what isn’t mentioned as much is how great it is to have the wind on your back. It makes for noticeably faster progress.

Staying in a budget motel tonight in Ahoskie, NC (the price was amazing), and I’m currently working down to Wilmington (hopefully in 2 days time) and then on to Charleston, SC (where there’s surfing!) a couple of days later than that.

My GPS is tracking the route to the meter, so on a rest day soon I’ll try to pull the data off it and upload a totally accurate route-so-far. For now though a rough Google maps will do. Today’s route:

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14 comments on this post

  1. Its good to get the 1st mechanical under your belt – next time some gas station plastic gloves ?

  2. Isaac says:

    Great job mate! I will send you some plastic gloves when you get the mail drops set up
    (hint hint hint!!!)

  3. Phi O'Rourke says:

    Forget the motels ,how bout some stealth camping!

  4. larry says:

    Hi Dave, I have been following you since day one. You seem to be making great progress. For a desk jockey like me you provide an escape from my reality. I live in Connecticut, which you will pass through on the final days of your journey, so jot down my email if you are in need of a place to stay or a hot meal (cooked by my wife) we would be happy to host you.

    Enjoy the ride.


  5. dora sullivan says:

    Just noticed what a pretty day it is outside and thinking that you might be traveling in equal temperature. Stay safe and let us all know where you will be for Thanksgiving. My friends are still waiting for you to contact them.

  6. DJ says:

    How did you break a chain with less then 500 miles on it? I thought you got a new bike (Trek) for this odyssey. Good on you that you were able to fix the chain. Best to invest in a new chain. You are brave to be cycling in the North East in November and December. Enjoy Thanksgiving. Tailwinds!

  7. Tony Norris says:

    I would get that chain replaced at a bike shop asap. It may be worn or a defect. Either way, you need a quality chain that fits your system. Don’t take chances on it. Thanks again for the pics and for taking the time to blog. I have not biked where you are now but have travelled in the DelMarVa, Wilmington, Charleston areas. You will love Charleston, SC. Many cyclist of all kinds and great historical town and area. You may want to visit there a few days. Savannah is very similar history and cyclist. Only if at all possible, stay off US 17 as much as possible. Very heavy traffic early morning and late, 5:00ish pm. Like others here, the wife and I would like to host you if possible. Suggest you may send private emails to let us knoow your estimate time and locations so we may can host.

    • Dave says:

      Hi Tony, thanks for the comment. Really looking forward to Charleston! Thanks for the advice re. US 17! Going down to Wilmington and from there will join ACA route.

  8. Tony Norris says:

    Hi Dave,
    Hope all is goin well today. I know you have done your homework to determine your route. Just a few comments since we RV vacation camp along the Gulf Coast usually during the winter. I would take a slight detour off ACA routes to be sure and visit Savannah, Ga. It is very much like Charleston. Full of the arts and southern history. And many, many cyclist that use their bikes for transportation. Also if you detour slightly when leaving St. Augustine and using google maps bicycle specific, it is almost a straight line due west from there to Appalachicola, Fla and then along the Gulf Coast to Pensacola where you would connect up with the Southern Tier. This is a very beautiful ride dotted with small port fishing villages and very light traffic and quite nice roads. This area is known by Florideans as the forgotten coast and most people you meet will be locals even tho this is the beginning of the peak vacation season for Florida. Maybe even meet up with the occasional bike tourist.
    Sorry this was so long. I’m just so envious. Feel free to pm me if you have any specific questions, Otherwise, I will be like many here waiting on your next blog.

  9. Jane & Phil says:

    Hi Dave,
    We have just heard about your trip, sounds amazing. Looking forward to following you on your travels. Take care and enjoy.

  10. […] the day of the mechanical, today was a day of firsts. And one that I hadn’t particularly been looking forward to. […]

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