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Day 11 – The tough just got going

(76 miles)

Okay, this could get ugly soon. There’s rumblings in the camp that Matt and I have brought all this rain with us from England and IT AIN”T GOING AWAY!

We packed up our wet tents, donned our fetching waterproofs and cycling tights (oh yes) and set off into the mist.

Shortly after leaving Damascus we rode past a valley that had been pretty badly torn up by a recent tornado. You could see a whole ‘pathway’ of trees that had been ripped up and several buildings with damaged roofs and walls. Wasn’t easy to stop and take a photo unfortunately. This isn’t exactly an affluent area so it must have been really rough on the folk living here.

We had been optimistic about today’s ride as there were ‘only 2 hills’. Little did we know that the first of these hills would LAST FOREVER. We foolishly kept going without stopping for a break. Two and a half miles of grinding up switch-back after switch-back we eventually reached the top, mentally frayed from the unexpectedly tortuous climb. I wish I’d got a video clip of Jeff as he wrung about half a coke bottle’s worth of sweat out of his cycling gloves. Never thought I’d meet a man who sweats more than me!

The climb was followed by the Coldest Ride Ever down the other side, my hands barely able to stay warm enough to operate my brakes as we plunged down the wet sloping road into the next valley.

As we were about to settle for a Subway lunch, a burly man stuck his head out of a pick-up truck and told us about another diner in town, tucked away behind some garage. It turned out to be perfect – the Farmers Table in the town of Honaker, in case you’re passing through. Some seriously friendly folk here – a great place for our last lunch in Virginia. One gentleman came up and proudly announced to us that “Honaker is the Redbud Capital of America”. To which I could only reply in my plumby British accent: “Really? That’s great1 Er… and what exactly is a Redbud?”

All smiles still, despite the rain (from left: Matt, Patrick and me)

Matt makes full use of a gas-station break for the essentials of cycle-touring...

At last!

The plan had been to stop in the little town of Haysi but when we arrived there late in the afternoon, wet and tired, we were dismayed to find there really wasn’t anywhere suitable to stay. With no cell-phone signal (note to prospective TransAm’ers – Verizon has so far had way better coverage than AT&T) we commandeered the reception phone of a local medical centre to call Parry who had arrived earlier. Turned out our only option was to push on another 10 miles up and down three steep hills to get to Breaks Interstate Park where at least there was a motel we could rest in. So, weary, cold and wet we set off again. All my remaining emergency energy snacks were used up on those last few hills. But it felt soooo good to have a warm dry room, a hot shower and another massive dinner.

The spectacular view* from the Breaks Motel restaurant. *Not available when misty.

Every square foot of space in the room was covered with wet clothes and tents as the room as transformed into a giant airing cupboard. We settled into our beds knowing that Virginia – and with it the Appalachians – is pretty much done and dusted. Ahhhh… goodnight!

2 Responses to “Day 11 – The tough just got going”

  1. Sasha says:

    There’s a town named Honaker!?! That’s my moms’ family name, and MY middle name. Well, we are from West Virginia. Hmmm.

  2. Rodney says:

    I had to re-read the third paragraph, being sure that a tomato could not do that sort of damage…

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