Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Check back here daily to read about our progress in our cross-country bicycle tour to benefit the FFB.
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Monday, May 23, 2005

Day 10: Troutville, VA to Christiansburg, VA (50 miles, 410 total)

Every night we spend time looking over the next day's route and try to plan out what our "short" and "long" destination goals are. For the last two days, I've really wanted to get to our long goal but have run out of steam and called it quits at the short goal. Still, 50 miles of pedaling through rollar coaster mountain land with fully loaded bikes is no small feat. I'm trying not to be too discouraged by the lower mileage we are turning in and I do hope we aren't running out the time clock early.

Anyway, today we woke up wet, well, we weren't but everything else was. It rained twice during the night so the tent was packed away wet. I'm very glad we bought the bike covers as the bikes and everything on them stay dry. We did a better job of getting out of the park faster than yesterday, and by 7:00 we were rolling. We did the same breakfast drill as yesterday - woke up, had some fig newtons, and got on the road. We stopped about 10 miles down the road at a place called Nanny's for a good, hot breakfast. No low-fat foods there and it was good stuff!

Once again, we were pedaling the back roads of rural Virginia on smaller county maintained roads. The scenery is always beautiful and the traffic is usually light. There was a stint first thing this morning where we were riding on a two-lane road with no shoulder while giant trucks charged past us. I am so tense during those times that I can feel my whole body going rigid. Luckily, that didn't last too long.

Most of today took us up and down at an even rate. Getting as much of a run down one hill to help get you up the next is a must where possible. At one point, Jeff was circling the road ahead of me (thank goodness I wasn't too far behind). Going across the road was a very large black snake. We have no idea what kind it was, but it was definitely around 5 feet long! I wanted to get the camera out but about the same time a truck rolled up and made that impossible. At least the guy swerved to avoid running over it. I sort of thought he was going to aim right for it. It was nice to finally see something alive in the road. We are both very tired of the stench of rotting carcasses. We were keeping a roadkill list for a while but it got way too cumbersome too quickly. Suffice it to say, we pass more than 15 dead things of squirrel-size on up every day. Today we also saw two smashed deer. Those are the largest to date. Live wild animals make appearances too. We have seen a few deer !
crossing the road (Jeff saw a few leap the road in 2 bounds and then fly over a barbed-wire fence). Today we also saw a smaller animal, a woodchuck? A groundhog? We have no idea, but it is cute, it waddles, and it doesn't hang out very long.

About 20 miles into the day I decided that I was tired of lugging around so many clothing options. The small town of Catawba appeared shortly and right on the corner was the post office. We both did another shake-down of what we have and mailed back another 5 pounds of clothing. Minimalism rules. Though it did technically lighten my load, I cannot really tell any difference.

The afternoon was spent battling a serious headwind. By serious, I mean that on a flat stretch I was going all out and only reaching 7 mph. Then a gust would come up and litterally shake my bike and push me around. Even as I type this, the wind is keeping the flags outside laid out and whipping the flag pole back and forth. We are talking serious wind.

Along with the headwind came a harsh sun. Today was the first day that we felt like we really needed sunscreen. We wear it everyday, but today I reapplied more than once. Sunburns are not welcome on this trip.

Harsh headwind, hot sun, and hill after hill had me dragging into town. Our destination was a place called Interstate Park Campground. We'd read that the place had showers and after three long riding days with nothing but babywipes for "showering," they were a must. But picture an interstate, then picture a gravel pit full of RV's, then picture a square of grass about 2 or 3 football fields away from the bathrooms. Now throw in the $20 charge. Yeah, I wasn't all that excited to set up camp. Instead, I walked across the street to the Super 8, where, for $40 we got beds, showers, and AC.

We ate dinner at the Crackle Barrel a little walk down the street, and when we walked out, everything was wet. Now I'm 10 times happier to drop the extra money. Two nights of rain in a tent is one to many for me. OK, time to turn in for the night! AKB

4 Comments:

At May 23, 2005 8:32 PM, Anonymous said...

If you guys were in Alabama I might have said it was an Alabama Black Snake, but you aren't, so I won't. I am sure you will fly when you git' out of Virginia, as far as I can tell from my map the entire middle of the country is REALLY flat.
-Reeb

 
At May 24, 2005 2:21 AM, Anonymous said...

It's too early to worry about the distance. You have already done what is most likely the toughest part of the ride. -TAB

 
At May 24, 2005 7:38 AM, Anonymous said...

I know you guys are worried about how far you have gone, but I just realized you have done 360 miles total --most of it through the Appalachians. That's impressive! Your experience makes me realize that I can no longer be a West coast mountain snob. What you're traversing are definitely mountains!
take care, aimee

 
At May 24, 2005 8:12 AM, Anonymous said...

Don't sweat the distance yet. By the time you head out west, you will be in 100 mi per day shape.
Maybe the vermin you saw was a crazed Snow Weasel. I know it is almost summer but they are still lurking, I am sure. Watch out. Also, when I drove my car across the country I remember hills sucking. I am full of sympathy right now.
-mac

 

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