The morning was gray again with a light rain that continued off and on throughout the day. George left early from the hotel while Seth and I hung around until the bike shop opened at 10. Seth only had one spare spoke, which he used yesterday, so he wanted to get a couple more. We navigated our way out of Charlottesville and stopped at Bojangles for second breakfast.
Google maps showed a 38 mile route to Mineral as opposed to the ACA 53 mile route. Fifteen miles is significant so we took our chances on the short cut (obviously we did not learn our lesson yesterday). Things were great at first; we were on small roads with good scenery. Suddenly, we rounded a corner and the pavement stopped. Gravel! It was one mile to the next turn, so we pushed on carefully praying the next road would be paved. The next turn was actually worse: a gated gravel road with a "no trespassing" sign! We could hear the highway so we kept going another mile on the first road, encouraging our bikes the entire time: "Come on girl/boy; I promise I won't take you on any more gravel roads if you just make it through this one...", etc. We came out on the highway and developed our own route after seeing that the next Google-recommended turn was another gravel road--we chose to do 4 miles to connect with another state route that would take us into Mineral. It was raining harder and the 4 miles were harrowing on the busy road with no bike lane. We both were watching each car in our mirrors to make sure they saw us. I think these next few days we will stick to the TransAm unless we are certain the alternate is good for riding!
The last 17 miles were less hectic and we stopped at a McDonald's for a late lunch. It started to rain more heavily so we waited about 2 hours for it to pass, although it was still drizzling as we pulled into Mineral. The fire station here allows camping in their yard and use of the shower and bathroom. It is busy here with us, Josh, Claudia, Josh's parents, Andreas, Greg (another eastbounder we met 2 days ago), and Rodney and Parker (a father and son duo also riding east--Parker is only 16!). Seth and I had dinner at the pizza place in town with Andreas, Rodney, and Parker, and we shared stories about our trips.
Tomorrow we are all headed to Glendale for our last night on the road. Unbelievable!