Rent a bike from Riverside Outfitters.
Happily coast down the giant hill toward Pony Pasture.
Swallow a bug. Close your mouth.
Continue coasting. Consider how difficult climbing this hill will be later.
Stop at Pony Pasture and take photos of James River. It’s lovely.
Enjoy the river and the scenery while biking Riverside drive.
Spot an unmarked side trail that looks shady and interesting. Take it.
Power through the mud holes, duck under branches, go off trail to avoid the logs.
On a wooden bridge, lose your balance when your muddy tires slip. Crash into the Rattlesnake Creek bed.
Be grateful you opted for the helmet.
Be grateful there are no rattlesnakes.
Climb back up to the trail. Your legs burn. Wonder if those plants were poison ivy.
Stop at the river and wash off your legs and hands. Your legs still burn.
Keep biking up and down the lovely hills. Pant and sweat heavily.
Bike up a big hill. Keep going. Keep going. Stop. Sit on a log, pant, and drink water.
When a cyclist asks if you’re okay, say yes.
When cyclist #2 asks if you’re okay, say yes.
When cyclist #3 asks if you’re okay, get on your bike and head back.
The only route you know is that shortcut through the side trails. Take it. Walk your bike across the wooden bridge this time.
Get heavily splattered during one particularly muddy stretch. Grab a handful of leaves to use to wipe off some of the clumps.
Remember what stinging nettle looks like. Remember really, really well.
Get to the water as quickly as possible. Climb over rocks and sink into the muddy bank. Jump to a log. Balance awkwardly, shaking your stinging hand enthusiastically the whole time. Stick it in the water.
Grab big handfuls of squishy mud to suck the tiny needles out of your hand.
Realize this is why your legs burn and briefly consider wiping your legs down in mud as well.
One shoe slips deep into the muck. Pull your foot out and balance more carefully on the slimy log. Look around to make sure no one is witnessing this.
Your arms are covered in dirt from the tree you’ve been clinging to while supporting yourself on the log. Precariously splash water onto your dirty arms. Decide it’s a lost cause. Wipe your arms and hands on your shirt.
Return to the trail. Find the main road.
Wonder if it’s starting to rain. Realize it’s just your tires spitting mud at you.
Spot a doe and her baby. Pause to watch them eat for a few minutes.
Reach that big hill. Walk up it slowly.
Return the bike.
Tip the Uber driver extra well for the mud you’ve left in his previously clean car.
Back at your hotel, enjoy your triumphant shower. You earned it.