Today I looked up my route using both the East Coast Greenway and Google maps. Google maps was significantly shorter, but there were most back roads and bike paths on the Greenway route. I ended up using the Greenway.
Shortly into my ride, I am pedaling up a hill on a two lane back road. It isn’t a significant Hill or anything but I am probably scooting along at like 8-10mph.
Where it flattens out, it also curves a little to the right. There are no shoulders on the road so I am most or less right by the white line on the road.
I come to the top of the hill and start veering right with the road. I look over to my left and there is a HUGE black bear!
Now first off, it was super cool seeing a black bear in the wild, but that’s not what was going through my head at the time. This bear was not off in the distance. This bear was a step away from stepping on the road!
I don’t know how many feet wide a two lane back country road is, but I was that close to it!
As I looked over, the bear seemed to not see me coming either. He froze mid step with one front paw just off the ground. We stared at each other in the eyes for a good couple seconds before I looked him up and down.
This was a BIG bear, and I was definitely in striking distance! I was just as frozen on my bike, just barely rolling past him, trying not to make any sudden movements that would spook it. If he wanted to charge me, I don’t think I had the distance to out bike him as it wasn’t downhill from there.
For a quick second I wanted to reach down and grab my GoPro. I also didn’t want to die, though. This was one of those times that I wish it was just on my head constantly rolling.
Once the bear was now behind me and out of sight behind a tree, I booked it until my legs couldn’t pedal any faster. I looked over my shoulder and was glad to see the bear was not running after me. He had crossed the road and I could see him running through the open field headed towards the thick canopy.
I like to think that the bear looked me up and down as well and thought, eh he’s just skin and bones.
Well if I wasn’t awake before, I was certainly awake and had my adrenaline going now! I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest!
Welcome to Virginia, where all the dogs chasing you in North Carolina were to get you ready for the bears here!
Again, this was just the beginning of my day and it was going to be over 60 miles. I took a break about 10 miles later and immediately ate the apple, chocolate, and honey stick I had. Bears like those things right?
I couldn’t help but grin and laugh the rest of the day of how cool that was getting to see a wild bear up close and getting away alive and well.
The Greenway led me to a bike trail that happened to be the Tobacco Trail again that I had taken back in Durham. This part, however, was not busy with people, was not paved, and in the middle of nowhere.
My eyes were now on constant lookout for wildlife aka bears. It was a really beautiful ride though, and I’m glad I chose the Greenway route.
Once I had to get off the Greenway to find my Campground, Google maps took me on this abandoned, overgrown, rocky road. This was the perfect place for a bear to hide and/or attack me.
I rode the 20 minutes through there yelling and talking out loud to scare off any animals. At one point I did hear some kind of animal run off. I like to think it was a bear. It could possibly have been a deer though.
Phoenix Lake Family Campgrounds was super cool! I seemed to have been just about the only person there besides the guy who check me in and another lady.
This place has a gorgeous lake and is a big scuba diving place! They even put old school buses and cars and other stuff at the bottom to make the scuba more interesting. This lace has a helicopter pad because the Navy come here and do underwater training.
Without even setting my campsite up, I walked down to the lake, stopped down into just my biking shorts and jumped in!
After swimming, showering, laundry, making food, and eating food, I spent the rest of the evening and the rest of my phone battery looking up bears.
I didn’t sleep that well. [Surprise!] Thought every noise I heard around me was a bear. Luckily no bears in the campsite that night (that I saw, anyways).
Today was completely off the Greenway route as I make my way across the state over to Norfolk. On late Friday night I will be meeting my wife, Clarissa, there for a couple days!
So it was Google maps turn to get me to my next campsite. It wasn’t going to be a very long day at all, only about 30 miles.
Google maps tried taking down some almost non-existent “paths”. The two photos below and the exit of one side, and the entrance of the other side.
My bike is not meant for that kind of off-roading, nor am I really wanting to put in that extra effort while also having to yell constantly in case bears are back there.
So I ended up zooming into the map and pricing together back country roads to get me there.
It was a lot of nothing, but a lot of beauty at the same time. Dense forests open up to large farms with big beautiful homes. Large open fields with broken buildings, and random trailer homes. It all kept my eyes moving and my mind wondering.
Made it to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, jumped into the pool, and fell asleep on the lounge chair.
I ate the most tortillas I think I ever have in one setting. I had two 10in tortillas with peanut butter and Nutella and then had chilli and ripped the tortillas in 3’s and used them as little cups. All in all I had 7 10in flour tortillas and they were great. Plus I got a 20 pack that was far too heavy to carry any longer.