Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 3: Mineral, VA to Charlottesville, VA (54 Miles)

After a night of quasi-sleep, I only had enough energy to push myself into Charlottesville by noon. The fire department was located just about 40 yards from a rail road. Every hour or so, a large freight train carrying over a half mile of cargo would come barrelling through town with horns blaring. In any case, I was grateful for some shut-eye at no expense for the second night in a row. Keeping on theme of continuity, the morning ride was as, if not more, enjoyable that the day prior.

I broke camp at around 5:45am and was on the road by six. The first leg of the journey was again filled with orange-tinted vistas and cool breezes. Three dogs came up to me and instead of biking away, I stopped to pet one of them. The other two were becoming jealous of the intention their friend was receiving and beckoned me to race them. I set off for about a quarter mile in full sprint, with the Black Labrador mix running beside me, the brown mutt trailing a few yards behind, and the poor Bassett Hound falling behind by 50 yards or so. The hound must have felt inept and sad to lose the race, yet it earned my respect for its tenacity and heart in spite of its poor engineering.

I rolled into Palmyra for breakfast at the "Hitchin' Post." There I met a nice fellow named Bob, who moved to rural Virginia from New Jersey for early retirement and living off the land. I talked with Bob for a while and chowed down on a chicken biscuit (I'm still having trouble with red meat after being a vegetarian for over 2 years). From there I set off towards Charlottesville and finally ran into the Appalachian foothills.

Gone are the subtle rolling hills and now I'm faced with the ultimate challenge: The Appalachian Mountains. The maps provided by Adventure Cycling Association (good folks, they are: explain that the Appalachian landscape will be the most challenging to bike. In spite of summits reaching up to 11,500+ feet in the Rockies, the Appalachians feature the steepest inclines that are littered with switchbacks (picture curving inclines up a mountain). I have two choices tomorrow: Make the morning climb to Afton and spend time with the Appalachian Trail "Cookie Lady" or push onward over the scenic Blue Ride Parkway and attempt to find shelter in Vesuvius or Lexington. It all depends on how my left knee is holding up. It's been acting up and sporadically sending sharp painful sensations to my brain. Hopefully, this is not an ongoing problem and will be resolved once my body becomes accustomed to grueling activity all day long. Is there a doctor in the house? Can anybody explain to me what I'm feeling?

Charlottesville reminds me of Burlington, VT... including the pedestrian mall and presence of hipsters with tight cut-off jeans. I rode around for a bit looking for a bike shop to purchase a spare 9-speed Shimano chain. I checked into a Red Roof Inn hotel room and the rates here are absurd... maybe it's because it's a holiday weekend? In any case, I hope these rates are a rarity, because my budget would be depleted very quickly. After a good/long shower, I'm now uploading all my prior blog posts and checking the outstanding backup of emails in my inbox.

I'm going to temporarily escape from the welcoming grip of soft sheets and air conditioning to find a bite to eat. - This is another thing I like about biking all day. I don't feel guilty about eating like a pig. In fact, I make it an effort.

Oink oink.


Ashley May said...

Speaking of pigging out, Sarah and I ate a ton a pasta with vodka sauce the day you left, in your honor.

You know what a doctor would say about your knee? ICE!!!!! :)

Eric said...

Loving these updates Blake. Thanks!

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