Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 6: Lexington, VA to Blacksburg, VA (86 Miles +7 Off Route)

I'm not a superstitious person. Nonetheless, I still think my birthday is cursed. I've always had the worst birthdays, well not always - but at least they've been plagued by some mishap or the other. I figured I could outsmart fate by not riding at all yesterday; however, fate is very patient and always waiting for you. I'm writing this entry from "Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea" in Blacksburg, VA... via a undesirable circumstance. Blacksburg isn't on the route... in fact, it's a nice 2,000 ft climb off the route. I'm here because of great misfortune, but I'll get to that in a bit.

I could hardly sleep last night. Maybe it was foresight of disaster? Or maybe it was the crappy Chinese food I had before falling asleep. In any case, I decided to not wait for the alarm and left the motel room around 5:15AM and put my lamps to good use. It was a nice ride out of Lexington (the morning is by far the best time to ride). There were gradual descents through a narrow valley, allowing for me to make good time before the midday heat started baring down. My morning was complete with a field of cows running alongside me and a quick stop for a breakfast biscuit at a Buchanan Ma & Pop Store which resembled a house, fully equipped with a stove top that she cooked on in the kitchen.

It was starting to be a nice day and then it happened... I was coming down Gravelly Ridge, right outside Daleville, and a blind turn appeared as I was traveling around 35mph through a bend. I tried to hit my brakes gradually to slow down, but I made the mistake of attempting to turn and my back tire began to fishtail. Next thing I knew, I was sliding across the cement towards the edge of the road (where there was a nasty drop off). Luckily, I stopped sliding after about 20 yards and tried to collect myself. I remember saying to myself: "Get up, man... you're alright. Get up!" I then began to survey the damage. I had some pretty harsh road rash on my left leg and arm, a broken shoe lace, and a ripped rear pannier. "Not bad," I thought and then I attempted to push my bike to the side of the road.

That's when I heard the squeal. My rear tire was jamming up against the brakes... something I thought could be fixed by just readjusting the quick release. I soon realized the tire was completely bent. Several of the spokes were completely loose and the tire was jammed against the frame of the bike. After some maneuvers, I was able to get the wheel loose and I began trying to "true" the rim as much as possible (this means to straighten the outer rim by adjusting the tension of the spokes). After about a half hour of work and little improvement, a sweet couple riding a tandem bicycle came across the scene of the accident. They were just starting a week tour and were quick to help me. After another 20 minutes of working the tire, we were able to make the wheel somewhat rideable. They took off and I attempted to fix the "bounce" of the tire... which, to my surprise, actually worked.

I then set off (awkwardly) towards an area with cell phone reception (there's many places without any service what-so-ever). The major problem with the rear wheel was the complete absence of rear brakes. Thus, I had to become more conservative with my momentum and made climbing hills all the more difficult. After another 30 miles, I was able to contact "East Coasters Bicycle Shop" in Blacksburg, VA. Had I known that Blacksburg was on a mountain ridge, I probably would have reconsidered varying off route. After more panting/sweating, I pulled in at around 4:30 and handed my bike over, expecting a full-recovery of the Bianchi.

However, in spite of having some of the nicest people on the planet, they were unable to fix the rim and/or supply a proper rim. After some brain-storming, Hudson decided we could build a Frankenstein wheel... made of several different parts. But, here's the clincher: a crucial part would not arrive until Wednesday. So, until then I am stranded in Blacksburg. It's a major disappointment to me, because I wanted to get a lot of miles behind me these next few days... and possibly ride along with Callum, Dowds, and Chris as well. Nevertheless, Hudson offered for me to camp in his backyard and I kindly took him up on his offer. I then rode over and met "S***rock," their mo-hawked cat. I'm a dog person, but man... this cat is a fantastic creature. I've never met such a friendly, curious, and bike-friendly cat ever. I then set up my tent, washed up real quick using their sink, and headed into town for a bite and some WiFi.

I could be angry with the way things went today, but I'm trying my best to roll with the punches. Hopefully, I can make the most out of my unintentional stay in Blacksburg and not mope all day tomorrow. I figured I would meet trials and tribulations on the road... just not this early.


Nicole Kendra Mazzeo said...

(Blake doesn't brake for rattlesnakes)

Momma said...

Hey Blake! I am sorry about your Boo Boo!! Please be careful and know you are being prayed for daily!!! I miss you but am so happy you have a good attitude about this journey and that you are so positive. Keep praying for God's guidance and he will give it...Love,Momma

DJ Glisson II said...

Yea, man... I've been keeping up. Speaking of, YOU keep up (the good work). Mad love and prayers going out, bro. This is inspiring stuff.

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