Sunday, June 8, 2008
Blue Ridge Mountains
Today is a day that will be etched in my memory for years to come. The day started out like the past two mornings, we woke up early at 5am to get ready for another long day of riding. We finally hit the road by 6:30am, but shortly after we began riding, Bob's bike decided to be difficult. His front derailleur was lose and jamming into his chain. We called Jesse and Sharon who quickly picked him up and whisked him off to a local bike shop. Finding one open early on a Sunday morning can be difficult, but luckily a nice gentleman in Charlottesville offered his services 45 minutes before his shop even opened.
Sam and I continued on without Bob (we dearly missed him). The morning ride was spectacular. It was so much cooler than the previous day and as we rode through the rolling Virginia countryside we could see those distant Blue Ridge Mountains slowly getting bigger. At about 9:00am, Sam and I both really had to go the bathroom, but NOTHING was open. Every single country store was closed (I guess everyone was at church). The elevation began to drastically change west of Afton (population VERY small). After we made the steep ascent into Afton we were both desperate to find a restroom. We stopped at the local post office/country store, however it was closed. Luckily, a very nice gentleman by the name of Bruce Tyler who is an attorney in Afton kindly offered us the facilities at his local law office. After refilling our water bottles and taking a picture of Mr. Tyler, we were back on our way.
Once we reached Afton heading westbound, there were 27 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway standing between us and the next stretch of flatland in Lexington. The Parkway consisted of 3 major climbs, the steepest topping out at 3,250 feet above sea level. The climbs were tough, but the scenery was well worth the effort it took to reach the top of each peak. We passed (and were passed) by several other riders out for day rides and cross country treks like ourselves. We met a young fellow named Dave who was riding solo, pulling a trailer behind his bike all the way to Oregon (good luck Dave)!
The best part the ride by far was the 3 mile descent from the last ridge down into the town of Vesuvius. The descent was steep and fast! Cars were only allowed to top 20mph, but on our bikes we could easily reach speeds of 35mph. However, with the switchbacks it was impossible to go over 30mph unless you wanted to throw yourself off the side of the mountain. What a rush! We stopped for a quick water refill at Granny's Kitchen where Jesse and Sharon were waiting for us with the truck.
We now had an "easy" 18 mile ride into Lexington where we were stopping for the night. However, my knees thought the better of it. Years of playing hockey and beating up on my knees really took it's toll. Despite the pain, there was no way I was not going to finish the day's ride with my teammates. I pushed on, with the help of Bob and Sam, all the way to the hotel. Where I quickly grabbed two bags of ice and passed out on the bed before dinner.
Tomorrow should be a day of rolling hills and some more great adventures.
Good night all!
Posted by Setch at 9:34 PM