Miles Today: 70
Miles to Date: 13,985
States to Date: 38
I rolled under the I-64 overpass south of Charlottesville and climbed Virginia Route 20 toward Scottsville and Dillwyn. Over forty miles gradients became shallower, plantations became mere farms, suburban houses became old time bungalows, or mobile homes, or abandoned properties altogether. I was in the country.
If we measured population increase and decay by area, larger tracts of our country are losing population than gaining them. Southern Virginia looks like so many places in the Mid-West and far West; the abandoned homesteads, shuttered gas stations and dwindling towns offset the new, mostly modular houses plopped down on five acres.
Riding through Farmville on a late summer Saturday reminded me of so many other towns I’d seen on my journey: wide streets with no traffic, underutilized buildings and acres of parking. Heat simmered off so much exposed blacktop. A few souls walked the downtown sidewalk, though few stores were open. I hankered for an ice cream treat, but there wasn’t so much as a convenience store to provide Good Humor.
So I continued on to my hosts, who live deep in the woods about ten miles beyond town. All sorts of bugs I’d never seen landed on my sweaty legs as I pedaled along country roads perfectly scaled to bike travel. I arrived a bit early but Bryan, his wife Joy and their twin sons made me feel at home. They had been giving my question some thought before I arrived. Before I even showered and changed, we launched into tomorrow.