Day 17: Virginia, or, Not So Bad!

*Note* I’m slowly (S L O W L Y) still migrating all these posts from Renewable Ride to Notes from Monomoy. I’m not actually cycling right now.

Today’s the 17th day since I’ve left Providence, and the 14th day of riding. I passed 1,000 miles (ended up at 1,035) today and ended up in Damscus, VA. I’d planned to get here after 13 days of riding, so I guess I’m content to say I’m making good time- considering the flat tires, rain, surprise hills, headset explosion, more rain, long stops, and late starts, an extra day for every 2 weeks on the road isn’t bad.

Today was definitely, definitely a day in the South and presumably a day in Appalachia. Warm weather, the first advertisements for sweet tea, and Confederate flags continue to outnumber American flags by approximately 2.5 to 1. Plentiful sunshine and a blue sky helped make the trail smooth (as well as keep the solar panel charging), and by around second lunchtime (or 14:00), I had made it past the numerous Christmas tree farms and was at the entrance to the Jefferson National Forest’s Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. Rejoice! The roads were smooth and relatively traffic free except for the passing trucks (which left behind a faint scent of balsam and diesel exhaust) and mostly considerate drivers.

Around these parts of Virginia, it becomes apparent that the state is clearly too large, because the place names are things like “St Clair’s Bottom,” “Mouth of Wilson,” and “Troutvale.” To be fair, it appears that Troutvale is a popular fishing destination, and many of the very many streams in the area do double duty as fish hatcheries, dammed off for a few hundred yards where the trout are raised. Besides hopping back and forth across some prime trout fishing waters, I also intersected the Appalachian Trail several times on my way down to Damascus, which I learned is one of the best-known intersections of the two trails. In town, I also found a great hostel- Crazy Larry’s- who will provide you with FREE STICKERS, and mercifully a library as well- I’ve read The Solar Cookbook about three times so far, and it’s only so useful to learn how to cook chicken korma and keylime pie in a solar oven while you’re biking across the country.

Tomorrow’s a day off- it’s supposed to rain, plus in the last week since DC, it’ll be nice to take a day to stretch out and take a look around, or maybe just to take some time to read books and catch up on the news. After that, it should be about 1 more day’s riding until Kentucky, and according to some, the end of the steepest hills of the ride. 🐙 Keeping my fingers crossed.