Southside Virginia, December 28, 2021

This two or three hour bike ride started in Bracey VA, a little more than an hour by car north of Durham and Chapel Hill NC. I-85 runs the hundred fifty miles from Durham NC to Richmond VA. North of the Virginia line the region feels like a step in the past. The area’s only economic engine currently appears to be real estate and tourism, centered on Lake Gaston, created in 1963 when the power company dammed the Roanoke River, flooding the land along the North Carolina/Virginia line. The blue line below shows where I cycled.

Four miles into Virginia with my bicycle in the back of our Ford Escape Hybrid, at Exit 4, I steered off I-85 and parked within sight of the Interstate, in front of a Huddle House Restaurant. I had not seen a Huddle House in a while but their website says there are 339 of them. Who knew? There was lots of parking so I assumed no one would care if I left our car here for a few hours. Bracey VA does not appear to be much of a town, it is mostly the several gas stations and restaurants surrounding the I-85 crossover.

I cycled east from I-85 on the Bike Friday on a two lane road.

There are apparently lots of second homes facing the lake. I bicycled down one side road until its dead end. There was an attempt at exclusivity, a gate of a gated community. I did not go around the gate; why stir trouble?

I soon cycled into Brunswick County, Virginia, current population 16,000; about the same as the population of Brunswick County, Virginia in the year 1800; 16,000. Its big claim to fame is that everyone (except those in Brunswick, Georgia) considers it the birthplace of Brunswick stew. There were vacant and semi-vacant old buildings strew across the landscape.

Many of these semi-abandoned looking houses have mowed lawns around them, and I must assume that the owners live in single wide or double wide manufactured housing on adjacent property.

sometimes a house gets so old it just falls down

I had brought lunch but could not find a picnic table. Ebony VA is marked on the map as a town, but it seems mostly to be one gas station and store at a crossroads . They had a picnic table in their side yard! I went in and bought a Starbucks iced milk coffee, and ate my peanut butter sandwich in the sun, reading The New Yorker on my Kindle.

The ride back to my car followed even smaller back roads. It was quite delightful. When you stopped the bicycle you could not hear a sound.

When I got back to Bracey VA the car was still there. I got in it and drove home.

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