Today started not so well. I woke up to Sheena rustling about and thought, “why is she up so early?” I checked my phone and realized that my alarm never went off. I got up in a panic and broke down camp quickly. My adrenaline was pumping so hard I didn’t need coffee! But after a delicious breakfast made by Woodchuck (the owner of the hostel we were staying at) we were off. We were nervous about today because of the elevation map and the dreaded Hayter’s gap, aptly named because we all hated it. It was 4 miles uphill at a grade of 8-10%. It was brutal on the legs! But although no one enjoyed it, we all agreed it wasn’t nearly as bad as we had envisioned. We all got up it in one piece.
Getting down, however, was another story. I was hoping that all the hard work I put into that uphill would reap the benefits of a nice downhill. Although it was a nice downhill, I did learn a valuable lesson: 30 MPH and gravel DO NOT mix. When taking a turn during the downhill, I noticed a patch of gravel I was headed right towards. I preemptively braked but could not avoid the patch. I swerved and got caught right in it. I wiped out completely, with my left knee taking the brunt of it. Luckily there was a guy sitting in his car on the exact curve and came out with a first aid kit ready to go. I bandaged my bleeding knee and limped off. Though I was embarrassed and hurt, I was more concerned about my bike. Seems to be running alright! And, ironically, not even a mile down the road I hit another patch of gravel and went right into a guardrail. Luckily for me, both times Meg was there to calm me down and make sure I was okay. Another lesson I learned was that a total wipeout (or two) may dampen your day, but it won’t destroy it. Also, I wasn’t the only victim of gravel. Ten wiped out three times. And, on another side note, Mary was a part of a bad accident. A car rear ended another car that was following her at a safe distance on a road without a shoulder. She was able to outpedal the almost devastating accident, but both cars did not fare well. One ended up in a ditch several feet off the road. All drivers are presumed to be okay. This caused a panic for me and Sheena, as a lady passed by Sheena in her car and told her that one of our girls was involved in a bad accident. We waited about half an hour for the unscathed Mary to make her miraculous appearance. Disaster averted!
We hit another bad hill getting into Council. It was shorter and less steep than Hayter’s, but it was all in the sun and we hit it during the hottest part of the day. It was a struggle, and apparently it was very obvious. A guy in a pick up truck offered me a ride into town, stating that the climb is steep and tough. I declined his offer, saying that I liked the challenge. He said he could relate, as he was ex-military. We got into camp shortly after and have been trying to stay out of the sun ever since. Tomorrow is a short, but hilly, ride. And our last day in Virginia!! Finally!
Total miles: 54.72
Time on bike: 4:56
Avg speed: 11.0 mph
Max speed: 36.2 mph
We have successfully crossed over the most challenging part of Virginia! We are still in the foothills of the Appalachians, but we have completed the most daunting part of the trip, for me at least. Today was another early day in attempt to beat the upcoming heat. We saw more of the same beautiful scenery as yesterday. After a few miles, we came across Vesuvius. It was just as steep and scary as I had anticipated, however, we took it easy and took multiple rest breaks. Not because we were physically tired, but because our brakes needed a break from constant use. I was warned that Vesuvius was notorious for causing brake issues/exploding tires from overheating from overuse on descent. We stopped for a brake break only a half mile in. I went to touch my brakes just to see if the rumors were true, and burned my finger it was so hot! Not my smartest idea. We had to stop any time it was safe to let the brakes/tire rims cool. But we made it down without crashing or any issues! Sheena had the bright idea of trying to get a top speed when descending Vesuvius, however, because I was ahead of her, I kept her in check. And probably saved her life.
We had lunch in a beautiful spot by a river and relaxed. When we set back out we hit a few more steep and long climbs, coupled by long and steep descends. Sheena was so worn out she thought that horses said, “baa”. We arrived to Lexington, our overnight destination, around 1:30, right when the sun was the most intense. But we were done and had the whole afternoon to explore the city. We did laundry and went to a couple coffee shops. We got stuck in the laundromat due to an intense thunderstorm rolling though causing flash flooding. A river formed in the street taking a picnic table with it. But after a few minutes the clouds gave way to sunshine. We’re staying at a church. Even though it was a short ride today, we are all still extremely exhausted from yesterday’s ride.
Sheena’s corner: I thought we were done with hills 😩
Total miles: 39.86
miles Avg MPH: 11.1
MPH Max MPH: 36.5
MPH Time on bike: 3 hours 34 min