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July 16, 2010—-Chickahominy River to Yorktown, VA (40 Miles)

"For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."

Deuteronomy 20:4

The final day has finally arrived. Today is the day we will prove to everyone that we ALL completed the long delightful journey across 3,200 miles of beautiful American land. From this day on and forever I will recount the many stories, conversations, and memories I have held dear to my heart to many others throughout the upcoming years of my life. The taste of victory as we entered the Atlantic Ocean this afternoon is a taste and memory that will never fade away. It is quite astonishing how a group of novice, young college students transitioned and matured into a courageous, humbled group full of love and yearning to understand more of God’s plans in standing under one cause. The power of a group is remarkable. If one member falls, there is always one there to pick the other up. I have learned a numerous amount of information about each and every one of my fellow comrades while pedaling across the wide country and I am pleased to tell you their future’s are bright and immensely hopeful.  Through them I have better learned something about myself and I have better understood my purpose in this crazy world.

Rather than describing my day in a detailed account at various mileages like I have done in previous blogs, I am simply concluding my blog with these final words comparing cycling with life: 

In life and just like in cycling there will always be mountains to climb. Our group of six have summited numerous mountaintops throughout the progress of the trip including the San de Cristo Range in So. California, Rockies in CO, Ozarks in MO, and the Appalachians near the eastern coast. Each mountain has its own lofty personality. However, in order to summit such steepness, one must dig deep down within his/her inner being and persevere through all the sweat and overcome the temporary excruciating pain. Time will pass and the pain will become virtually unbearable but you will eventually after a period of time reach the summit of the beast. A state of unexplained euphoria will penetrate through every part in your body. You will feel invincible. In life there are many mountains you will conquer, whether small or large, you will discover your true self in the ascension. Challenge brings out the true character of a man. As you reach the top and overcome your troubles you will feel an instant moment of true excitement. Unfortunately, this happiness is short lived and you will soon find yourself descending down the road toward a valley. The descent may be slow or it may be a 45 mile per hour rush. On the way downward, you may come in contact with many different species of animals trying to grasp hold of your front wheel. You may experience some dogs that will constantly bark down your throat and chase you off the road. On the other hand you will meet a different type of dog that tamely just sits and encourages your journey gently along. In the valley you may face fatigue or extreme dehydration. Hanging on to what you know you will have to overcome the occasion and climb those small dips or walls along the road in the valley. Not all valleys are perfect flat you know. The road may then take an abrupt change from the relatively smooth surface into a bumpy, uneven asphalt. As time passes after each pedal stroke, you will come to the inevitable fork in the road. Turning left could lead down a path of eternal happiness under one absolute authority and turning in the opposite direction could lead into a path of ultimate destruction full of gnashing teeth. So which one is it going to be? I know the turn I have chosen and it has made all the difference since. 

July 15, 2010—-Montpelier, VA to Chickahominy River (64 Miles)

If we have the true love of God in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will no have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do. 

-D.L. Moody

Ahhh the next to last day of riding. In all actuality the last full day of riding. A moment of happiness spread across my face as I awoke this morning only about 100 miles out from the bay. I happily consumed a couple of bagels and some leftover apple cobbler that Oz provided. 

Due to the fact we were on such a tight time constraint and had to be at the Dominion headquarters in Richmond by 10:30 we left Oz’s place immediately and headed eastward starting at the location where we left off on the day before. Eventually after passing VCU and keeping a tight double lined paceline we reached the headquarters and were immediately treated like superstars as we met back with David and Mark and the president of the Alzheimer’s Association in Richmond.I was amazed at how well the whole event was organized and blown away by the magnitude of the Dominion skyscraper. Richmond was by far the largest city we traveled into with massive skycrapers dotting the city line. Well after a few minutes all of us rode out on stage and were warmly welcomed by many employees and other Alzheimer’s Association care workers.

The vice president of the company delivered an excellent speech to us and then handed us a check written in our name for 1,000 dollars. It was an honor and privilege to meet and shake so many hands after the event concluded. Panera for lunch provided by Dominion hit the spot like none other. I believe I downed at least 3 sandwhiches and couple bags of chips. Dominion, if I ever move to Virginia you will definitely be my first choice in providing me with energy.

After sadly leaving Dominion, we headed eastward across the downtown district of Richmond across some cobblestone then 40 miles later we ended up at our campsite for the night along the bank of the Chickahominy River (now thats a mouthful). We were delightfully treated to dinner by some of Dana’s family friends, Barbara and Mike Stripling. The dinner consisted of cedar plank salmon, barbecue, corn and red velvet cake for desert. Alongside with us as well was Virginia Tech grad bro, Sean, who now lives in Virginia Beach and works for an architecture firm.

The time spent at their very colonial decorated home was extremely enjoyable and it was entertaining to hear some of Mike’s stories working undercover in submarine warfare during the outbreaks of the Cold War. Toward the end of the night before we were leaving Mike asked us all where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years. All of us answered the questioned in an organized fashion and when the time came to me I found myself strongly answering the question with fortitude„even though I am still undecided. Mike and Barbara, thank you so much for your generous hospitality, even breakfast the following morning. I believe in that night I really gained a better perspective on my future and just an overall understanding of how blessed I really have it.

The rest of the night we all headed back to the campsite including Sean and Dana for a campfire and some manly singalongs. Wade, Jordan, and Chaz strummed the guitar beautifully to many songs including Free Falling, Folsom Prison Blues, and Walking in Memphis. We even had an extra thrown in there requested by Cameron of Snake Farm. The night was memorable together and it was a wonderful end to such a long journey.   YORKTOWN TOMORROW!!!!

July 14, 2010—-Charlottesville, VA to Montpelier, VA (65 Miles)

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. 

-Oswald Chambers

Awaking early we all headed over to the Rotunda on UVA grounds to with an interview and photo shoot with channel 9 news. Tyler did an excellent job, taking in consideration for the time of day, in answering all of the prosed questions in an adequate fashion as the rest of us just smiled happily in the background. After consuming some fresh, tasty bagels and waiting for Tyler and Jordan to return from a radio interview we departed Charlottesville and headed for Montpelier. Thanks to all the Omicron Bros for making our stay an enjoyable and refreshing one to say the least. I would love to come back and visit.  On the way we passed Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) and James Monroe’s (Ash Lawn Highlands) estates actually within a couple miles of each other. Feeling superior for a short while, we finally were out in the country once again. At about the 25 mile mark we were met by two guys by the name of Mark and David, of the Dominion Energy media crew. For practically the whole day they followed us in their vehicle and shot numerous clips of us riding in preparation for their hosting an event for tomorrow in downtown Richmond. The guys were fun and easy to talk to which passed the time quickly away. At times with their filming at several different angles I felt I was in the Tour de France.   They hung around and ate the same lunch we had of bologna sandwhiches off the road in some shade nearby a baptist church. 

Eventually we reached our destination after circumnavigating some gravel for a mile or two at Robert Osborne’s house in Montpelier. Robert and Dana planned a cookout for all of us and some other Fiji graduates attended. One in which I will never forget was one brother who actually set a Guinness World of Record of swimming up a class 5 rapid close to Richmond for a couple of miles. The story was detailed and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The hotdogs and burgers were delicious and the social interaction was pleasing. Only 2 more full days of riding!

July 13, 2010—-Lexington, VA to Charlottesville, VA (78 Miles)

No matter what trials we face, Christ never leaves us.

-Billy Graham

The nights rest was beyond comfortable and refreshing, if only I could have laid there just a little while longer. Only one more major mountain to climb for the whole trip and it is going to be a doozy leading up to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. I stuffed my face full of bacon, eggs, bagels, and cereal for breakfast and then waddled out to the trailer to prepare for the long day ahead. 

In the town of Vesuvius we mentally prepared ourselves for the upcoming battle by listening to a variety of songs ranging from rap and classic rock to “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Carry on my Wayward Son”. Everyone participated in some crazy act to just get pumped from Jordan falling on his face in a handstand to my dancing with the bike. So we were all ready to tame this beast. 

I believe in all honesty it was the other way around, the beast tamed us, but anyhow we survived the climb and gave our final yelps at the top. The Blue Ridge Parkway was absolutely breathtaking with its many scenic overlooks and interesting geologic formations. For a bit we had to pause at one our SAG spot right off the Appalachian Trail near Reeds Gap to let a light rain pass through the area. Once cleared, we all rode together as a group down the mountain for a short media interview with a local TV station. Subway for lunch then on to the campus.  

We finished our ride for the day at the UVA Fiji House in Charlottesville, VA and were warmly welcomed by the Omicron brothers, who have actually been a chapter in existence since 1858. Their house was just right in accommodations and I enjoyed the visit throughly. Keep up guys in reaching excellence. Only a few more days left and the journey of a lifetime has finally concluded.  

July 12, 2010——Blacksburg, VA to Lexington, VA (85 Miles)

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men. 

-Colossians 3:23

A lovely rest day was spent in Blacksburg visiting Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus, relaxing in the condo (special thanks to Henry for allowing us to stay for a couple of nights), and understanding the true spirit of a Hoakie. Thanks Dana once again for arranging all of the details, and way to go Spain in winning the World Cup! 

Today’s ride leaving Blacksburg was full of fun and many surprises. For the first time it started to rain within the first couple miles of our departure and I don’t believe it stopped until we were about 15 or so miles outside of Lexington. But hey the rain definitely did not extinguish our spirits at all but really brought a new energy to our riding. I remember us singing several songs tolling down the road for it definitely is a “glorious feeling to be singing in the rain”. I took the navigation for a while as we tried to eliminate some mileage in the rain. At about SAG spot #2 I owned the trailer and called it my own and Wade took care of some unfinished business as usual at around the top of the hour near the trailer. haha good times. 

At lunch for the day we all huddled together inside of the trailer, sat down like soldiers and prepared to eat MRES(Meal Ready to Eat). It was enjoyable to switch up the routine and try some tuna with mayonnaise for a change. Chaz fixed up some frankfurters and I believe Mitch or Wade had some type of roasted chicken. We were all smiles and traded items throughout the whole time, but in the end it was nice to just get out of the rain. 

After lunch we continued for Lexington, but as soon as we departed the trailer, we began to climb the first hill, Tyler’s chain literally broke. Lucky…looks like since we don’t have a replacement at the current time he will stay nice and DRY for the rest of the day. The next 40 miles were WET, WET, and more WETNESS. The rain really started to pick up as we began to enter Buchanan but hey we all enjoyed ourselves singing songs, yelling at the top of our lungs, and just having a good time. As I say, a rainy day on the road is always a better day in the office. As our group (minus Tyler) neared a gas station we took refuge for a short while, but the energy within us caused by the rain to intensify and Cameron, Chaz, Wade, and Mitch went total bonkers. It was definitely a good bonkers however. Leaving Buchanan, the rain dissipated lightly then with about 10 miles remaining the rain finally ended. Lexington came next and it was an enjoyable yet historical  ride into the Comfort suite as I passed Stonewall Jackson’s grave, Virginia Military Institute, and Washington and Lee Fiji House. Could Virginia have anymore history within its borders, it is unreal. Supper was great as me and Wade consumed the Hindenburg sandwhich and the suite was just a slice of heaven. Blue Ridge tomorrow, could get a little nasty„ just bring it! 

July 10, 2010—Rural Retreat, VA to Blacksburg, VA (75 Miles)

If you want to reach your potential, you need to add a strong work ethic to your talent. 

-John Maxwell

I sluggishly awoke early to the sound of disassembling tents and the lone voice of Dana in the distance. Today would be a fairly easy day excluding the hills prior to reaching the outskirts of Blacksburg. We were all actually looking forward to seeing some other Fiji brothers at Virginia Tech and just having some rest until Monday. The beginning stretch out of Rural Retreat seemed quite easy compared to the past days of strenuous climbing and the heat seemed to be less with an overcast surrounding. Wytheville was one of the cities we passed through on our way before lunch in Radford and it was interesting as I was riding alongside Tyler to see the main strip of town including the large yellow pencil hanging outside one of the stores. Me and Tyler for the record did not get lost on this section but just turned around for a short little bit. Eventually we connected back up with the route 76 bike signs and headed for Max Meadows, a small city north of I-81W. It was a unique landscape with a different terrain of meadows which I enjoyed thoroughly. Climbing a little bit off the main road we traversed through the historic town of Newbern, which had many remnants such as wells/fences preserved in its 1700s time. 

Eventually after crossing over the New River, I believe thats the correct one, we arrived for lunch which consisted of sandwhich meat, cookies, and Cameron’s special of avocados in Radford. It was a lunch that I will always remember: Cameron haphazardly throwing apples at vehicles and me telling pickup lines about astronauts, zippers, and legs. Nice combination huh? With only 15 miles remaining we left early after lunch without an alloted nap time and pedaled on a busy traveled state highway leading into the campus of Virginia Tech. The campus was unbelievable and the architecture of the buildings was unified with hoakie stone. After getting turned around for a time or two we finally rode into the center of campus and met up with some other Fiji Brothers as well as Dana and Bill (VA Tech Purple Legionnaire). The night was filled with many things. After showering up we headed over to a Fish Taco place just a short distance from the Fiji house where we all gorged ourselves on the delicious seafood. Dana thanks so much for paying the bill for all us, it definitely did not come cheap with a bunch of hungry riders and other brothers. 

Instead of chilling out at the Fiji house for the rest of the night I decided to head back to our condo for the night to not only accompany Cameron and bring him some food but to just get some sleep. I was beat. Good thing tomorrow is a rest day. Ahhh….yes

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