Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 10 to 14 and into Kentucky!

Day 10 was our easy/rest day. We woke leisurely and went into downtown Christiansburg (approx 6 shops). The coffee shop had excellent wifi (and paninis) and thats where i wrote most of the last blog entry. We headed to Radford, about 15 miles away after kick out time at our Budget Inn. We heard in Troutville that a 'Doctor Lee' let's cyclists stay at his house for free. We got to Radford at 2pm so went for lunch at the Riverside Grill where we drank 5 pints of Virginian Stout and were pretty pissed. We got to the Lee's around 7 and they were the greatest couple. They let us camp in their yard and use their kitchen and showers. An amazing act of hospitality that I am seeing often on this trip. They even gave us the keys to their car so that we could go to the restaurant (Norah had sobered up by then). Good rest day!

Day 11 We left Radford with an aim to get to Whytheville where cyclists can pitch tents in the Town Park for free. This was a very windy day and very overcast so spirits were down. An Arby's breakfast did not improve morale. The scenery was great though as the woodland gave way to wider pasture lands. Top old guy and shop owner, Bryson gave us some tips on trapping and selling furs at one of our rest stops (his coffee tasted like mud though). We arrived around 7 and went up to an Italian restaurant that served some mega portions - great as we were starving!

Damascus was our target for day 12. Super cold start - down to around 4 above freezing. My sleeping bag and tent was not good and keeping the chill out. We got going and had a good mornings ride. We stopped in the afternoon for an hour talking to a group of people running a Church Fundraiser in the small community of Sugar Grove. Good chili dogs! We pushed on through arguably the best scenery so far. Flat, long grass fields ringed by the heavily wooded Blue Ridge mountain range. 8 brutal miles of climbing to the town of Troutdale followed by a few miles more until the greatest downhill road section of my life. Super fast and long (5 miles at least) of steep downhill, twisting down the side of the forest valley to Damascus. Definitely a go pro moment (but I don't have one). Amazing. Damascus is super chill, good wilderness/holiday vibe. Met some Appalaccian Trail hikers. They aren't as scary as the rumors have it (but still a bit weird). Few cold cans of poor Coors Lite/Busch and laundry and then bed.

Day 13 Damascus to Rosedale started slow. We stayed in Mojoes coffee shop for hours and then finally left at 10.30. I bought a thermal sleeping liner so hopefully that will keep me warmer at night. We want to cover a short distance to more free accommodation 35.5 miles away. We ended up having to go over White Top mountain which was incredibly debilitating. In 3 miles I climbed 1500 feet. Constant switchbacks made sure this took over an hour. Brilliant climb though with dense forest on either side of the road. Plugged some music in and growing up it. The church was also great - the parishioners had left lots of food for spent cyclists like us to cook (in our case Mac and cheese and steamed veg). Getting to sleep was a little creepy after making jokes about stigmata, exorcism etc. my catholic upbringing playing on my subconscious.

Day 14 Rosedale to Lookout (Kentucky) on Memorial Day. This was a big day, especially after yesterday's climbing. 62 miles to cover, across the state line, to another church in the town of Lookout in Kentucky. Started well with a couple of quick descents and then another long climb up 'big A mountain'. The downhill again was fast with sweeping turns and great vistas of the surrounding mountain ranges. Later in the afternoon we repeated the pattern as we went around the Breaks state park. Three times we had brutal long climbs followed by super fast (40mph at least) downhills. I need to get new break pads soon. We hit the state line and were ecstatic - lots of photos! So pleased to have done the first state. Quick 15 miles to the rest stop where other cyclist are also stopping for the night and sleep before tomorrow's run deeper into Kentucky.