Ellen watering her front garden. She is our Airbnb host in Fredericksburg along with her husband, Jerry
Today was not my favorite day of riding. The sky was heavy and grey and threatened rain most of the day (but we only got sprinkles in the evening, after dinner; our amazing weather luck continues). Most of our 58 miles included rushing traffic, but I should be well used to that by now. My head was preoccupied with some family issues, so sometimes the hard work of climbing big hills was a relief — you can’t think of much else but breathing and pedaling when the hills are big. Also, I didn’t have a great night’s sleep in my top bunk at the Richmond hostel. The woman below me snored and I needed to climb down and cross the hall three times to use the bathroom — of course.
All of this whining is to tell you how much I have been appreciating our Airbnb hosts this trip. Today we pulled up, clammy and tired in the mid-afternoon, to Ellen and Jerry’s beautiful historic home in Fredericksburg. They greeted us with great welcomes, as if it truly is a treat to have us stay with them. Ellen, an artist, helped us wheel our bikes into her studio, the front room of their home. She had left water bottles, Virginia peanuts, and luscious dark chocolate in our room — the perfect end-of-ride snack that I promptly helped myself to while Dee showered.
Airbnb can get a bad rap, some of it deserved — it has disrupted the hotel and residential markets in cities like San Francisco and New York. Stories abound about bad guests destroying homes and such. I’ve used the service for work travel and personal travel and always have had a good experience. This bike trip takes the experience to a whole new level. Thanks to our bookings, we have seen charming neighborhoods in St. Augustine, FL; Beaufort and Georgetown, SC; Savannah, GA— and now Fredericksburg (which is a very charming town, one of my favorites). We have been welcomed by kind hosts who feel like friends by the time we leave. Almost to a person they have been retired or close to retired, empty nesters ready to share their spare bedrooms and a few stories of their lives. It’s a whole other niche of the Airbnb market, it seems, and it’s been a delightful way to get to see more of our destination cities and stay comfortably overnight for reasonable prices.
Early morning coffee at the Richmond hostel. It’s a beautiful place, but climbing down from the top bunk a few times in the middle of the night tells me my hostel days may be over.
Caroline read about our trip through the East Coast Greenway newsletter, or Facebook, and wrote to us about meeting in Richmond. She’s a former racing cyclist and distance swimmer and a writer by profession. We enjoyed breakfast with her at the bike-themed Lamplighters Coffee Roasters near Virginia Commonwealth’s campus. Dee asked one of the baristas where the bike theme came from. “We all used to ride bikes,” the fellow told her. “Now we all drive vans.”
Here’s to a good night’s sleep and a better day tomorrow. And thanks to Dee for her continuing fine work with photo documentation.
Our bikes are enjoying Ellen’s studio, an upgrade from their usual garage or back hallway accommodations