Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 4: Charlottesville, VA to Lexington, VA (82 Miles)

Pleasure and pain, they're one in the same. I woke up a little late and checked out of the hotel at 6:30AM and headed towards the mountains. The ride out of Charlottesville was outstanding. I came across several forms of wildlife, the most notable occurrence being the moment I snuck up on a deer eating on the side of the road. A bicycle can be a stealthy machine when it wants to be. I came within 5 feet of the gentle creature before it became spooked and blurted out a sound much akin to flatulence or a helium balloon deflating.

At around breakfast time, I started the climb up to Afton. There I ran into "The Cookie Lady," a sweet old soul who opens her doors to fellow cyclists since 1976. She could talk up a storm, but I didn't mind.. I was already winded from the first climb. After a short while chatting and checking out the Trans-Am house, I took off towards higher elevations.

Surprisingly, the climb up the first mountain was far more gradual and forgiving than I had envisioned. I spent a good amount of time last night studying the elevation charts, so I could try not to be disappointed by a surprise climb. I followed along the Blue Ridge Parkway and totaled about 7,000 feet in elevation in one day, in spite of the highest point being 3,300 feet above sea level. I was constantly biking up and down mountains, especially towards the end of the Parkway. The major problem came from the complete absence of diners/eateries/gas stations/anything offering food along the parkway. I was only sustained by granola bars for the entire day and never had a proper breakfast or lunch. I felt the ramifications of this later down the road, but I'll get to that soon enough.

I took several intermittent breaks during the climb through the mountains. There were several scenic overlooks and information centers scattered along the Parkway, so I could stop every hour or so and lay in the shade. Finally, when I reached the highest elevation point, I took a back road down into Vesuvius. This road was very small and steep, full of switchbacks. It was a blast to bike down; however, I felt sorry for the poor souls having to climb this road when heading east. By the end of the descent, my brake pads were smelling like a tire fire. It was, by far, the most exhilarating and fun thing I've done on a bike.

As I rode towards Lexington, my body started to give out on me. During one climb up a steep hill, I had to pull over and collapse for 15 minutes to regain some energy. It was a blessing to see the quaint town of Lexington (which reminds me of a smaller version of West Point). I finally pulled into a cheap motel run by a sweet Indian couple and unloaded my stuff into my cigarette-smelling room, took a quick shower, and headed downtown to the only diner open on the strip (fully equipped with a "Parking In Rear" sign). There I had a nice dinner at the bar and spoke with a retired professor of VMA. I talked with him about bikes and he sounded very interested in picking up the hobby. I was invited to go see a fireworks display at the sports field, but my eyes were becoming heavy and I rode back to the motel instead and get some sleep after updating this here blog from the lobby.

I think I'm going to take a rest day on my birthday tomorrow. It's supposed to rain and my legs could use a break. Also, my front derailleur has been acting up and it needs some TLC (tender loving care). I'll also try to make the most out of the day and see what this small town has to offer, in spite of the rain. HAPPY INCENDIARY DEVICES DAY!


CClanton said...

Happy Birthday Blake! You are in our prayers!
We are checking your blog daily!! Loads of love!
The Clanton crew

Aaron said...

Blake... I love your blog. It's sound like quite an adventure.
Happy Birthday!!! I hope you're having a great day!!

Nicole Kendra Mazzeo said...

I am torn between the graveyard picture and the Kevin's Internet picture for my desktop background. What do I do?

Courtney Peters said...

so i love in charlottesville and i was in lexington the same time you were..weird. hope its going well

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