Darwin and I had a serious sit down in Blowing Rock, NC. I confessed I didn’t really want to quit but I felt so tired and hurty all the time. We had started the ride together and wanted to finish together, we would make some adjustments. We looked over the elevation chart for the rest of our ride and discussed the minimal amount of mileage needed to finish by our deadline. We planned to try to ride a majority of our daily miles in the morning before taking a lunch break. After lunch, my energy level seemed to poop out. With this new strategy in mind, a hot shower, pizza, and a beer, we rode out of Blowing Rock, NC the next morning together.
We rode forty-seven miles, the climbs feeling shorter and more tolerable. Knowing that we only HAD to ride thirty-miles every day to make our finishing deadline, felt less intimidating and helped my mental state. We rode past beautiful farms giving us a classic autumn scene of pumpkin patches. The parkway also provided long stretches that were relatively flat and continued to lead us closer to Roanoke, VA.
We found ourselves in Fancy Gap, VA in no time and shocked the staff at The Gap Deli with the amount of food we consumed coming right off the parkway. We dodged a rain shower at the Mountain Top Inn and when I blew a tire the next morning before even leaving the parking lot, Peter the owner saved the day. He was a huge help along with Darwin in fixing it even offering us tea before we rode out.
The parkway greeted us to intense wind but we were able to somehow push out fifty-miles that day. I can only thank the fried apple pie I ate at the Mayberry Trading Post for the power to get through the wind. We woke early the next morning and finally, FINALLY made it to milepost 120 where Roub was waiting for us. We spent a day off in Roanoke, VA eating and laughing a lot. This was my end goal, I had made it, I could quit. Roub, however, wouldn’t hear of it and informed me I couldn’t quit. Honestly, we only had a little more than a hundred miles to go, I actually didn’t want to quit either.
Roub rode out with us from Roanoke just like our days on the Appalachian Trail, both he and Darwin would stop occasionally for breaks and to check in; me always going a little slower. We stopped off at a service road that the three of us remembered would lead to the Appalachian Trail; we had taken it out to the parkway to meet Momma Roub before heading to trail days back in 2015. Having already taken on his own tour of the Parkway, Roub turned back leaving us to reflect more on our 2015 hike as we continued to cross over the Appalachian Trail the next few miles. As we rode on, we took in the beauty of the Peaks of Otter thinking of our most recent visit there with Roub in February.
Our last days on the parkway were not easy; the temperature dropped the wind picked back up, the climbs returned but I find myself enjoying it. I yelled into the air a countdown of mileposts on our last day. Darwin smiled back at me and pointed at the milepost with the number two. I breathed in the crisp air and closed my eyes for just a second or two, trying to take in everything from the numbness in my feet, the aching pain in my right knee, to the tenderness in my ass.
Then there it was, the sign marking the end of our tour. I raised my fist in the air and let out a “whoooooop”. I had stuck it out and finished. I started at one place and rode four-hundred-and sixty-nine miles to another and I had done it in one go.
As I hugged Darwin at the sign a bittersweet feeling bubbled inside me. The journey was tough and uncomfortable; I started out of shape and oblivious to the challenges that waited for me but I still did it. I finished and after all of it, I felt confident I could do it again, but more efficiently, more prepared. I felt ready to start looking up another tour, my interest in bike touring had been peaked. A feeling I can’t say I had after the Appalachian Trail.
Important People Involved In Our Adventure:
Jo & Allen – Thank you for babysitting the Clydesdale, for dinner, and for providing such a great AirBnB stay!
Connita and James – Thank you for providing a ride to the start of the parkway, lets never drive on the Tail of the Dragon again!
Joe & Kippy – Thank you for opening up your home to us, cooking for us, and great conversation when hiding out from the weather.
Miller’s Campground – Thank you for being so kind to us during our stay!
Peter at Mountain Top Inn in Fancy Gap, VA – Thank you for all your help on my bicycle, it was such a pleasure to meet you!
Roub – For always being a great friend and coming to our rescue.
Carlee and Connie at Budget Rental in Roanoke, VA. – Thank you for trusting and understanding two strangers and treating us like human beings, and allowing us to actually rent a car! We will now ALWAYS use Budget Rental because of you two!
AND…to the lady who bought two water bottles for us at a visitor center, the wonderful lady who gave us a hitch in her truck in Waynesboro, VA, and to everyone else that followed our adventure, offered assistance, those of you who read the blog and gave words of encouragement!
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Recent Stuffs:
Keep an eye out for the 2018 Hiker Trash Holiday Gift Guide, Coming Soon!
Darwin’s Vitamin Trail shirt has 5 more days left to purchase! Check out this and a reboot of the Embrace the Suck shirt here!
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