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Day 24 - Ashland, Virginia to Williamsburg, Virginia
81 miles
1500' climbing

This was it, our last day. 81 miles to the beach and I would have ridden my bike coast to coast, over some incredibly difficult terrain, in just 24 days. I was so happy that it was almost over, but in a way it was anti-climatic. It was the West Yellowstone day, and the Big Horn Day, and the 11,000 foot day that I remembered feeling victorious on. They were the days that I felt like I'd accomplished something. This was just a short little ride to the beach, and then it was going to be over.

I was excited because my parents were driving up from NC to meet me on the course, and I hadn't seen them since last year. I was excited that this 20 year old dream of riding across the country was about to be fulfilled in the place where the dream began. I was excited that the next day I could rest. I finally realized that I had just undertaken something very few people ever consider, and I was about to successfully complete the ride.

But I was also a little sad.

No time for that though. Susan and I had a ride to do. We rolled out with Susan warning folks to get out of the way, since a girl-driver was coming through. Roberta joined us as we rolled through beautiful rural Virginia countryside. We still had a little climbing to do, and I noticed that Susan also liked to push big gears, and didn't like to use the granny much. We toughed it out over one little wall, and she promised to use the left shift lever if we hit another.

At the first snack stop, I had to get back on my single, since Susan had to work the rest of the day. But we talked Roberta into captaining with Karen. A few quick pedal changes and they were off. Karen wasn't thrilled with my seat, but only had to use it for 30 miles, and stuck it out. Roberta did great in her first time captaining, and I couldn't keep up with them.

I reached the outskirts of Williamsburg with a small group of riders and were led off course by an errant arrow. We quickly realized the error, and were back on our way. We passed our hotel and I saw my parents waving and shouting on the sidewalk. I stopped for a quick hug and gave them directions to the next stop, along with instructions to use their camera.

We regrouped about 5 miles from the beach for a group photo and to make the assault on the beach together. Rebecca had talked John into doing the final leg of the ride on the tandem with her, and they led out the pack. We finally reached the beach and headed down to the ocean with our bikes for a dip in the water. The sight of jellyfish kept me from going too far out, but I did get my feet wet. Lots of picture taking and hugs and congratulations followed. A lot of people had family and friends come out and meet them and it was really a fun time. The folks sunning themselves on the beach were a little alarmed, but I enjoyed it.

We then rolled another mile down the road for lunch, but not before stopping at a local pub for a beer, and it was a cold delicious beer! I hadn't seen my folks in almost a year, so we spent lots of time catching up, in between introducing them to my new friends. Of course my mom told me I was too skinny, but I told her I'd ridden from Dairy Queen to Dairy Queen trying to do something about it.

The cue sheet said the ride ended at the beach, so I accepted a ride back to the motel with my folks, where people were packing up bikes and getting ready to go home the next day. The final banquet that night was really great as each rider was presented with their PAC Tour plaque. The plaque had two pegs on it, for hanging one's hats and gloves. Lon believes in utilitarian things.

The final rider called out was Richard Lawrence, the oldest rider to ever complete PAC Tour. Richard was greeted with a standing ovation as he accepted his plaque. One of the things that had motivated me to do this ride was the knowledge that I might not always have a chance to do everything I wanted to do, but Richard also showed us that it's never too late to start.