Friday, June 13, 2008

Days 6 & 7

Day 6 - On Wednesday we found ourselves riding 90 miles in 6 hours and 45 minutes from Newburn to Damascus, Virginia. Damascus has a population of 798 and is embedded at the bottom of a valley surrounded by the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creep Trail, and the Trans-American Bike Trail all intersect in the middle of nowhere. I think the town would make a great setting for a Hollywood horror film. The area had an eclectic mix of people, both locals and visitors. It seemed that every other house was a bed and breakfast. The town also included 4 bike shops, 4 outdoor shops, 2 places to get ice cream, and about 6 churches. Pretty much every business in town shut down by 7pm with the exception of the local pizza place. We were able to get a room at a Apple Tree Bed and Breakfast right on Main Street. Our experience at the B&B was one I won't forget anytime soon. All 5 of us slept one room that included one king sized bed, a pull out sofa, a cot that folded up, and a bathroom the size of a broom closet. I think we laughed ourselves to sleep that night. Bob sat down on his cot and it collapsed on him - it looked like it was trying to eat him alive.

Day 7 - We woke up early and ate a BIG breakfast cooked for us by Debbie and Les Smith at the B&B. They made us eggs, a cheesy hash brown casserole, fresh baked banana muffins, sausage, and fruit. I didn't know if I would be able to cycle after all that food, but we quickly worked off all the food we ate as we slowly climbed our way out the valley and on our way to the next destination, Breaks Interstate Park which was 76 miles away. The valley was heavily laden with fog, but it slowly lifted as we rode. Once we gained elevation, we stopped to look back down into the valley, but Damascus was still hidden by a thin veil of fog.

The ride to Breaks was hilly and included one very steep climb. Luckily my knees felt much better, not 100%, but good enough to climb the hills with only a little discomfort. The day ended with one last major climb into Breaks Interstate Park which overlooked a gorge that has been nicknamed "The Grand Canyon of the South" according to the park signs. The day's ride took us 5 hours and 50 minutes. We ate a good dinner at the park's restaurant and went to bed early.

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