Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 9: to Breaks, VA

Today was a nice day again.  I woke up on the floor of the church between the aisles of pews.  Everyone’s phone alarms went off at 6am.  I think that any ringtone anytime is super annoying, but hearing 1o ringtones echo through the huge church building that early in the morning was beyond annoying.  But it woke me up, so mission accomplished I guess.  I haven’t bothered setting an alarm the entire time I’ve been on this trip because I rely on the other 24 alarms to do the job.  Now that I think about it, maybe setting up 24 alarms in my room at home would be a good idea to get me out of bed.  I’ll work on that.

Mark was nice enough to make us pancakes this morning with some mix he found in the trailer.  They were really good compared to my usual oatmeal.  There was also real coffee (not the instant stuff I’ve been drinking) which was amazing even though I drank it black.  I’ve been drinking all my coffee black the Day 9 004past ten days.  I’m sure that’s good because I usually put way too much cream and sugar in it back home.  Riding in the morning was great, it was cool and cloudy.  The mountains were covered in mist.  Beautiful.  We had  some hard climbs early on but they led to amazing views at the top of the ridges and then some super downhills.  We all bombed down them trying to reach our top speeds.  I think someone cracked 50, but I’m content with my new personal high of 41.3mph.  I know I could have pushed it faster if I weren’t nervous about dying.

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I was riding by myself a lot of the day.  I got sort of lonely and experimented taking pictures of myself while I was biking.  I’m sure that’s super safe.  Here’s what my point of view is for 5+ hours a day.  That purple thermos in my rear water bottle cage is full of coffee.  After yesterday I decided to carry it with me at all times.  That way I can hydrate with water and then promptly dehydrate with coffee.  I’m full of good ideas!

Day 9 008 Since we were only going 45 miles we didn’t really take any breaks and the ride was uneventful.  I stopped at a gas station and ate some Beefaroni cold and straight out of the can.  Mark and I stopped for tomatoes on the side of the road.  This guy apparently drives down to Georgia, picks a lot of tomatoes, then drives back up to Virginia and sells them on the side of the road.  He was really nice and handed me a free tomato as soon as I pulled up and then snuck another one into my handlebar bag when I wasn’t looking.  He even had some salt there so I could eat it right then, like an apple.  Reminds me of my days in the back of the Scopes studio with Ben.  Anyways we made him take a dollar and we continued up the mountain.

There were some big hills today.  I set my land speed record and my land-slow record in the same day.  One hill I was cranking up in granny gear at 3mph.  Haha.  That’s so slow that it’s a miracle I didn’t just fall over.  My knees are starting to get sore from all the climbing.  Oh well, who needs them?

Day 9 009 Can you spot the poor puppy stuck on the side of this cliff?  I felt so bad for the boy, he was whining and crying and trying to get down.  Some guys drove up in a truck to try to help him down.  I hope it worked out ok.

So after some climbing Day 9 013and sweating, we finally made it up to the Breaks!  Going off of what I read on the cover of a restaurant menu, the Breaks are the “Grand Canyon of the South”.  Or is it the East?  I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon so I couldn’t tell you if it compares, but I can tell you it’s impressive for Virginia and a place I’ve heard nothing about before today.  I think Daniel Boone hung out here.  Perhaps some Indians as well. 

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Day 9 018We are camping here for tonight.  We are once again living in luxury; there are showers and washing machines to wash our clothes!   Here’s my lovely tent with all of my shorts hanging up to dry.  It was really nice having such a short day because we got into camp at around 2pm.  We had the rest of the afternoon free to just relax.  I even took a half hour nap in my tent.  It’s a welcome break from the past couple of grueling days.  Would you like to see the inside of my coffin tent?  I couldn’t fall asleep right away so I took a picture for you.  It’s actually pretty cozy and I sort of like having my own little space.   Day 9 024Like how some dogs enjoy their cages.  Maybe?

After showering and setting up camp, I had dinner #1 (Easy Mac) before riding with the group down to The Lodge to have dinner #2.  I’m trying to go with the “when in Rome” attitude as far as eating is concerned so I feasted upon country fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, cornbread, and milk.  As if that weren’t enough, the Blue Ridge chapter of the MS Society was nice enough to buy us all dessert!  I had a hot fudge sundae ice cream brownie thing.  Delicious.   You can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

Here we are.  We have three miles of downhill and then we are done with our first state.  The longest state, the first state, the state with the most elevation gain (yes, more than Colorado).  From here looking east, all you can see is mountains.  It’s weird to think that I rode my bike to get over them.  Literally one mile at a time, just chugging away.

Day 9 019

We got these pins for free here at the state park for biking through the whole state.  Virginia is the only place nice enough to do this and I greatly appreciate little mementos like this.  I have worn my pin with pride all afternoon.  We are all sad to be leaving Virginia for eastern Kentucky, home of potholes, unchained attack dogs, huge coal trucks, and a few rude rednecks.  We’ve all been warned to ride in groups at all times and stay very alert.  The journey begins.  I don’t think I’ve ever been out of Virginia for more than a couple weeks at a time my whole life, come to think of it. 

Day 9 037

If I could blog everyday on a porch like this with a view like this… well, that’d be sweet.  I’m having a great time sitting here alone and enjoying nature.  Speaking of, I have a friend here that would like to say hi to everyone.

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A quick shout out to everyone who posts comments on my blog- I love them.  The first thing I do when I have internet access is to read everyone’s comments.  You always make me laugh Michael and Ambies, I love it that you’re reading and keeping up with me.  I’m going to make sure you win that bet!  Ha.  Seriously guys, come see me in San Francisco or Seattle. 

Alright, I’m going to go on a little hike to watch the sun set over the mountains.  75 miles tomorrow.  See you in Kentucky.


  1. I love reading your posts - I'm making it a daily routine to check in on you! Congrats on making it all way across our beloved VA. Enjoy KY - will you make it to Louisville? Memphis? 2 of my favorite cities. Be safe and keep on bloggin'!

    Cousin Karen (can I start posting as Karen?)

  2. Your blog cracked me up tonight, especially the coffintent picture.Good luck in Kentucky and keep the dog attack spray close by. Be careful and I look forward to your next post. Love, Mom

  3. mmmmmm tomatoes. i can't believe how much i was missing out during scopes days. what was wrong with me? i'm also glad you've been documenting the animals. if you come across a stray sweeta, be sure to photograph it for me. in other news, i have to get some sleep because while you're biking and getting to see these awesome things, i have to be at elementary school at 7 am to do field day. i swear if i get stuck in the dunk tank again....

    can't wait for san fran!! love you! A