81 miles (130 km) – Total so far: 407 miles (655 km)
Right out of the gate I felt much stronger than any day up to this point. I was back to taking the uphills with some aggressive cadence instead of just hoping and praying the top would come soon. I credit the change to a nice rest after the Blue Ridge Parkway climb two days ago, a short day yesterday, and a miracle drug: Pamprin. My sister suggested that if I’ve got joint pain and muscle pain and muscle cramps… well, that sounds pretty similar to a monthly affliction she endures. So, I gave it a try and Blamo! my muscles felt great last night and when I woke up this morning.
Natural Bridge was my first stop out of the campground. The bridge is a natural formation of limestone carved by the river below. Getting around the local attempts to extract maximum dollars from tourists for a natural phenomenon that is actually free to view would have been very challenging if it hadn’t been 6:20 in the morning. The rock itself is pretty impressive. Thomas Jefferson agreed with that assessment. Apparently he bought the 157 acres from King George III for 20 shillings.
Since the route followed a major highway for the next 35 miles, I plowed through it with little regard for the small towns and scenery. The towns themselves are much more interesting as one gets away from the interstates and highways, so not much to see here. At Troutville, the path cuts sharply away from civilization and up into the high country parallel to the Appalachian Trail. I had been hoping that I’d see the intersection of the trail and some hikers, and that in fact happened. I met a through hiker named Josh. I would have missed the unmarked trail completely if the two of us hadn’t gotten to the intersection of the AT and the TransAm bike trail at the same moment.
The next 40 miles was a moderate climb with gently rolling hills. Not the steep river valleys that I was seeing in the Virginia Piedmont, but still starting to fatigue my legs. Worth it for 40 miles of beautiful pastures, mountains, and little streams.
Not a single open store for 40 miles meant that I had to get some water from a spigot on a house next to the road. The Chihuahua inside the window was not impressed with my absconding of water. A day-biker coming from the other direction asked if he could get some water. I graciously allowed it. No picture of the house for obvious reasons.
The final few miles was a really steep incline into the town of Christianburg. As I came around Depot street I hit the end of my first ACA TransAm map. The intersection isn’t much to look at, but I have a great sense of accomplishment for crossing this road.