Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Day 13: Damascus, VA to Elk Garden Methodist Church, VA (34 miles, 563 total)

When measuring by miles, today was short, but when measuring by elevation gain, today was rather tall.

After a noisy night's sleep in the Damascus Hostel ("The Place"), we woke up at 6:30 and tried to quietly pack up. Our "roommates" (James and Eric) got up soon after, so we didn't have to tip-toe around too much. We were packed up and ready to find some breakfast by 7:30. I think the lingering stinkiness of some of those hardcore hikers was a big motivation to get out of there ASAP!

We stopped by Kenny Fritz's "Cowboy's", the local market/diner at the Exxon station in town. We bought a few snacks for the day, some breakfast sandwiches, and some blueberry pancakes. Kenny stopped by to say hi as we ate and he reminded us of something we already knew: we have some serious climbing to do before we get of Virginia. D'oh!

If all goes as planned, our last night in Virginia will be tomorrow at a campground that is on the border of Kentucky and Virginia. Once we are in Kentucky we will see just how bad the famous stray/farm dogs of Kentucy are. So far the dogs have been manageable. Most of the time harshly shouting "No!" or "Down!" stops them in their tracks. Luckily, most of the large dogs have been tied up, or behind a physical or electric fences. We did have one pitbull that seemed to come out of nowhere. Since he surprised us and we were headed downhill, the best action was to accelerate. I remember hearing the scratching of his claws on the pavement to keep up. That is the last we heard or saw of him, thankfully. Comically, we get chased most often by little dogs with tiny legs; they have no chance of keeping up with us. Despite that, they still bark and run with all their might. I ususally respond with a Nelson-like "ha-ha!"

Except for the one episode when A.K. tried to gas me, we still have not used the Halt spray. We are told that without a doubt we will need it in Kentucky. Eric and James were both without Halt. I had two extra bottles, so I gave them each one. Sadly, Eric told us that a dog came racing out into the street to charge him and got hit by a car. Eric said the dog got up quickly and ran away, but he was clearly hurt. It surprises me how many people let their pets run free with such roads right in front of their houses. Not all the roadkill we have seen has been wild animals.

Anyway, we left Damascus and were subjected to rolling hills all the way to Meadowview. Blue skies dotted with a few clouds covered us. We were subjected to some gusty winds, but overall the weather was very nice as compared to previous cold and wet days.

We rolled a bit more into Hayters Gap and then began our climb of 1500 feet over four miles. The road was rather narrow for two-direction traffic, full of gravel, and very curvy. We took a few breaks on the way up, but we had to choose our rest locations wisely as there were not many safe places to stop.

Finally, we crested the top and began the descent. The descent was not the best due to the gravel and the narrow road, so we took it rather cautiously. I did manage to sneak up on a small bear on the side of the road. When I first spotted him, he was about 100 yards away. As I braked, he took one look at me and bolted into the woods. I was hoping to stop far enough away from him so that A.K. could see him, but he was not interested in being looked at. That was the first bear I have ever seen that was not in a zoo.

We continued on down the hill into an open valley. I noticed that we have travelled far enough now that the trees and terrain are very different from a few days ago. We stopped to take a snack break next to a pen with three young horses in it (they wanted nothing to do with us). We were a few hundred feet from a cattle farm where there was a lot of "mooing" in the air.

At that point, James caught up to us. He was now travelling alone because Eric had gone south into Tennessee. Once again he mentioned he got a bit of a late start on the day (about 11AM). He does ride rather fast though and apparently climbed the four-miler without stopping to rest his muscles or his '97 Stumpjumper M2. He said he planned to make it to Council tonight where there is a campground. We shared a few cookies with him and off he went.

Soon, a cowboy on horseback came over and asked us to move as they were about to herd a bull across the road. He told us the bull was "bad fer it" (meaning he would charge us if we were too close) so we best move. Knowing that our Halt spray would probably just infuriate a charging bull, we rode on.

Down the road about 100 yards was a pen full of bulls. They were making quite a commotion and if you asked me they all looked "bad fer it."

From there we road a few more rollers. I was a bit ahead of A.K. when I arrived at at a busy intersection. I decided to wait for her there, and when she arrived she pointed out that I had blasted right past our first overnight option.

We pulled out the maps and decided that although this is a short mileage day for us, it is best to stop for the night rather than subjecting ourselves to an 80 mile day and some brutal hills or having to cough up some dough for a hotel.

So, here we are at the Elk Garden United Methodist Church. Yet another fine Methodist establishment that welcomes TransAm cyclists for a small donation. The pastor, Paul, told us to make ourselves at home, so we have. They have very soft carpeting in here and it looks super comfy. We plan to cook some dinner in the kitchen, and I'm hoping to be in bed by 8!

Paul did mention that the campground at Council is closed, so hopefully James will find a decent place to rest tonight.



At May 27, 2005 11:40 AM, Anonymous said...

I always thought "bad fer it" meant horny, as in "watch out, that beaver is bad fer it!", but I guess I was wrong. I love it when you get to cradh in churches for free that is awsome.

At May 27, 2005 12:15 PM, grayson said...

I am with Reeb. However, being in the South, tonightI will use the term "bad fer it" in a variety of situations and see what kind of responses i get. Should be highly entertaining. G.


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