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  • Writer's pictureSophia Wang

Day 6: Virginia is for Lovers

Saturday, June 8th, 2024

Waynesboro, VA -> Lexington, VA

43.8 mi, 2,139 ft elevation

Today’s ride was our kindest so far, a flat/mildly downhill one-shot from Waynesboro to Lexington, VA. Varsha wisely said this morning, “45 miles? Oh, so it’s a rest day.” Not quite, but kind of.


A few of us had lactic acid build-up from our day in Shenandoah. Our bottoms are also adjusting to the (ruthless) saddle.


Fight-or-flight is the closest descriptor for transitioning from student life to cross-country cycling upwards of 8-hours a day. I woke up tired despite getting a healthy 7-hours of sleep because of physical fatigue. Every waking moment I’m carb-loading. My jaw hurt from eating so much these last few days. Growing pains.

We’re currently in cattle country. The license plates read, “Virginia is for lovers.” We agree. We’ve seen waterfalls and farmland, mountain ranges and meadows. If you love nature, cycling, or dairy, come around!

What do we spend our hours cycling thinking about? Some of us bump to music. The math kids in our group, JD and Cleo, memorize problems in the morning to chew on. Cleo prefers arithmetic, JD geometry.


For me (when I’m not fighting a hill), I think about writing. There are so many scenes I want to explain to the people I love who are not on this trip, but I can’t bring myself to photograph.


I want to show you everything – the mud-covered turtle crossing the road, the white stallion in the hayfield, the purple beetles that jump from the grass. And the way blue and white dragonflies join and hover above the water. The sound of a family splashing in the river. The crowds of cows that huddle under the shade of a single tree.


Nothing could prepare me to describe what feeling this landscape elicits. In some ways, the exacting, pixel by pixel representation of a camera fails because of its precision – so close yet so far. When biking, I often find myself playing with words and being reminded of art and music that create the circumstances through which feelings can be experienced and understood, as opposed to forensically recreated.


What’s most remarkable is that these scenes are found in ordinary settings. The reason I joined Spokes was because of the otherness I often associate with beauty and meaning. Cycling street by street through Virginia should be counted as an eighth wonder of the world. I’m convinced the same can be said if you replace the subject, Virginia, with any state. Careful, unhurried observation coaxes out these quiet wonders.


We arrived at the home of our Warmshowers hosts, Dirk and Chrissy, at around 3 pm. Dirk and Chrissy, besides being the coolest people ever with their linguistics background and bike trips, are also incredibly generous.

Dirk and Chrissy's beautiful backyard

They drove us down to the water to kayak, paddleboard, and swim. Varsha and I shared a board. We drifted among the kelp, wood, and minnows of the river. I napped on the water for the better part of the afternoon. Winding down the mountain in Dirk’s jeep, our hair whipping into the wind, our bodies still dripping with water, I felt that summer had finally arrived.

I’ve been consistently blown away by our hosts. The entire Spokes team has been really inspired to open up our homes in the future. The most common response we get when asking why people choose to host is that the world comes to them. Right now, Spokes is traveling through the world (America) to iron out the qualities we’d like to have in a home someday. When that time comes, we’ll keep in mind all these great examples.


We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, as well as a glorious chocolate cake.

While cooking dinner, Amulya, Cleo, and I had a rewarding conversation with Chrissy about the arbitrary choices that shape our lives. Chrissy was a linguist in the army after a comment from her father on job security. Her daughter chose Swarthmore partially for their athletic wear. There’s a great magnet on the fridge that reads: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” If life is largely a reaction to stimuli large and small, then the importance of these small acts of caring cannot be understated. Dirk and Chrissy have really got this down to an art. Just look at the iced tea. Chrissy brewed it with a few sprigs of mint from the garden. We drank from frosted glasses they prepared during the day.


During dinner, I played around with the piano for a bit, while everyone debated the merits of bread, pasta, and rice. We played a card game called Stab Your Friends (link), which Dirk’s nephew made. It was great fun with lots of pixel art, manipulation, and accidental stabbings. Cleo won!


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Jun 11

I’m a Warmshowers host who hosted 2023 Spokes team at my home in Berea KY.

I’m not sure if your route will take you through this area, but I’d be happy to have you stay here!

Plenty of room for tents, kitchen, and of course, warmshowers.

I’m currently listed as unavailable on WS but if you’d like to stay here, please contact me at and we’ll make it happen! I’m enjoying traveling with you.



Mary Lizarde
Mary Lizarde
Jun 11

Beautifully written!


Jun 10

biking to math problems😭


Jun 10

banger blog post

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