Day 7 – Hello Appalachian Mountains, you’re a bit hilly.

(75 miles)

We took off early from the campsite, aiming to make it to Blacksburg where Parry had made contact with a chap who was offering us a place for the night. Problem was it was 75 miles away over some very ‘up ‘n down’ Appalachian hills.

Catawba valley - more beautiful than this photo can convey

Not all cyclists we pass are very chatty

These are the signs we've been following. The TransAm route was created in 1976.

We made it to Catawba about 2pm, looking forward to some serious munchies at a nice diner – but were dismayed to find only a poorly-stocked gas station. So we guzzled down some hot dogs, Gatorade and ‘Honey Bun’ cakes and set off again. After Catawba the hills continued but the overall gradient was downhill and we had a good tailwind so I was charging down the downhills and maintaining enough momentum to just get up the next uphill. The last 3 miles into Blacksburg (a detour off the TransAm route) was a long slog up some steep hills and a storm was chasing us hard. After seeing sparks flying off a nearby tree as lightning crashed around us we decided it might be time to pull in and take shelter – and at exactly the right time we came across a car workshop where they were happy for us to sit out the storm.

Sitting out the storm in a workshop

We stayed the night with Michael and Jane. Michael is a keen cyclist and motorcyclist (he has four huge motorbikes and about 15 bicycles in their garage!).

Michael and Jane's house in Blacksburg

The rear deck


We all headed out for an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet where I was delighted to see what appeared to be the perfect food for carb-loading:

Don't mind if I do!

Michael then took us out on a quick tour round the Virginia Tech campus. Virginia Tech is the place where, in 2007, there was a horrific massacre by a deranged student which left32 dead. We looked round the memorial for them which was quite sobering. These kind of memorials, with a personal touch (there was a kind of biography of each victim), always get me – there’s something about the solid, silent statement of remembrance and sorrow in them that is much more powerful than a video/photo/article could ever be.

Memorial stone at the center of the memorial

Virginia Tech own their very own mine and most of the buildings are made from Virginia Tech stone!


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