57 miles (92 km) – Total so far: 464 miles (747 km)
I continued along the New River. This river captures much of the water from the mountain basin I’ve been riding through for the last 100 miles or so, and the river is impressively wide given how early in its meandering I witnessed it.
Frequent steep hills on a gradually increasing incline tired me greatly… perhaps too much relative to some of my prior climbs. Eventually I ended up in Draper, VA at the Junction Bike Shop which is attached to the Draper Mercantile Exchange. The owner, Thomas, has in just two short years of opening his shop become something of a fixture on the TransAm trail. He regularly inspects cross country biker’s rigs and gives advice and expertise on the setup. His advice to me proved prophetic. He told me that on his TransAm trip in 2012 he got very fatigued and the low mileage days weren’t refreshing him. However, a full day off the bike completely recharged his batteries. He strongly advised me to take a rest day soon. In addition to his sound advice about personal care he inspected my cables and brakes and adjusted the latter. No charge, just being helpful.
The next 20 miles were an incarnation of evil itself. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. It took almost four hours in the blazing sun to reach the town of Wytheville, VA. Long inclines and an unforgiving sun further sapped my strength. Running on fumes, I rolled up to a B&B that looked promising for a two day rest. The owner took one look at my sweaty biker appearance and promptly told me they were all booked up, contrary to their website information. A quick google search directed me to Comfort Inn suites, just UP the road. *sigh*
Fortunately, on my way up I met Phil and Linda, who are also traveling across the country. The three of us worked our way up to Comfort Suites with no small amount of grumbling and cursing the fracking hills. We were *very* tired. After some negotiation about where to store the bikes, I took a brief respite (i.e. I completely passed out for an hour).
Our next task was dinner. I had heard a lot from the cyclist grapevine about 1776 restaurant so we gave it a try. Oh Lord of all that is holy… fresh vegetables and an IPA on draft. I’m tearing up as I type just thinking about it. It has been extraordinarily hard to find vegetables in the last 8 days of the trip. I’m so happy to have filled my belly with well prepared fresh foods. And a bitter IPA. Not as bitter as my current regard for steep inclines, but bitter nonetheless. Let’s call it, ‘as bitter as the tears of my enemies’.