Waking up in Afton, I immediately began thinking about the previous day's off route activities, and how they compared to the other times I had diverged from the prescribed route. When I cycled through Danville, KY (off route) I got to see a fantastic city that a good portion of cyclists doing this trail miss. On the other hand, yesterday's ride was quite the mess. I decided that a) I wanted to see Richmond, VA, b) that without an old trout giving me bad advice I would be fine, and c) that I was fully capable of planning my own off routing.
Thus my ride along highway 250 into Richmond. Actually a fantastic ride for 80% of the way from Afton, really until you got close to Richmond itself and the traffic picked up. With a more detailed map, I'm sure that I could have taken smaller roads to get into town and had a more enjoyable ride.
I spent the night in Richmond, and really enjoyed biking through the downtown area. It certainly seemed like a city that I would enjoy returning to when I am not a grimy gremlin. I left on Day 42 knowing that it would be my last day. The weather was perfect.
I passed through Williamsburg, about 20km from my final destination, and decided to make one last pit stop for food. Outside a dairy bar in town, I happened to run into John from Britain, who also started from San Francisco, near the time when I did! We ate lunch together, and biked the last hour to Yorktown, VA together. Good thing too, as I now had someone to photographically document my arrival!
Yorktown does bear some symbolic significance, despite not technically being on the Atlantic Coast. It was there that American and French troops accepted the surrender of British forces during their fight for independence. A statute was erected in honor of this event. It was at this statute, the Victory Monument, where the maps that had so faithfully guided me across the US ended. I certainly didn't liberate a country over the past 42 days, but fought my own battles, and was glad to end the journey here.
The plan now is short. Rent a car, visit my sister in Princeton, NJ, then drive to Buffalo, NY. From there I would enter Canada on my bike, and take a 2 day victory lap from Buffalo to Toronto, stopping with some old friends in St Catharines, ON along the way. Then rest. Lots of that.