Breakfast had been promised the previous evening, and based on dinner, I wasn’t going to miss out. I put on my loaner Croc, and made some coffee. I was feeling the effort of the last week plus of riding. I was groggy, sore, and tired. Proof:
Once I got my head out of the cobwebs, I cleaned off the bike. My new best friends weren’t up yet, so I made some more coffee. I was starving, but wasn’t too keen on eating anything as I didn’t want to spoil my appetite. So, I had more coffee. I washed my face off in the creek and combed my hair. Then I had some more coffee. I was starving, bored, and full of caffeine, so I started trying to find ways to occupy myself. I was too jittery to read, so I started taking pictures.
My friends were still not awake. This was getting desperate. I thought about walking next to their trailer and making some noise, real surreptitious like, to try and stir them out of their slumber. Stuff like chopping wood, practicing my solo, acapella version of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald“, or maybe fire up an auger and try my hand at digging some holes, just real incognito activities. It would be easy enough to shut down the auger and feign innocence, “Oh! You’re awake! I wasn’t too loud was I? So…what time is breakfast?” Unfortunately there were a few problems with this plan, they didn’t have an ax or wood to chop, I can’t sing for shit, and there was no auger. So, instead, I waited quietly.
Finally, around 10 am, they woke up. At this point, I was literally going to die if I didn’t get any food. I tried to play it cool, and not immediately rush over to see when breakfast was, or rather brunch at this point (it was a Monday, so brunch hours technically begin at 9:30, and last until 11:00), so I waited until Montana came over on his bike to see what I was doing. My ravenous eyes belied my cool demeanor as I walked over to the smell of bacon cooking on the stove. This was going to be real southern breakfast, bacon, eggs, grits, livermush and tomatoes. I introduced a bagel for a bagel sandwich, and their minds were blown.
While breakfast was cooking, Montana proudly showed me his mules, and it was clear that he loved the animals and enjoyed being in the woods with his family. It was a special moment, and brought back fond memories of childhood camping trips. Those trips and memories are what set me on my current path, and helped me evolve the skills and confidence necessary to undertake an adventure such as this.
FINALLY, breakfast was ready. I ate like only a gaunt cyclist can, putting down a frightening amount of livermush (not bad!), grits and bagel and egg sandwiches. It was a meal that only a manbeast can eat. I would have had more bacon, but Montana was on that like a hawk, inhaling half a package before I’d even sat down. Well done, young sir. Well done.
Feeling stuffed to the gills, like I was going to vomit if I had to actually work hard on my bike, I said my goodbyes, threw a leg over the bike and set off. I was sad to leave them behind, it made for a very enjoyable two meals, but there was still work to be done. I wasn’t finished with this thing yet.
The riding for the day was fairly unremarkable. Much of the day was on the Virginia Highlands trail again. Some road climbs, gravel climbs, singletrack climbs, bears, rattle snakes. Ya know, the usual. Oh right, that last bit. I saw another bear cub running on the trail, the third bear I’d seen, including Yogi way back at the beginning. I yelled, whooped and made as much noise as I could after seeing the little fella, and kept riding on. About two minutes later, as I was cruising down the trail, I heard a very distinct noise to my left. It was oddly reminiscent. Like something I’d heard only nine days prior. I briefly looked left, and saw a familiar sight. A rather large rattlesnake sunning himself. Luckily, I was moving quickly so I just kept riding past, but I was thoroughly freaked out. A few choice words escaped from my lips, and I got a huge shot of adrenaline. My body started shaking, my legs were wobbling uncontrollably. I needed to stop and recompose, but didn’t really want to stop. All I wanted was to be out of the woods, off this trail, in the safety of a hostel or hotel room, with a pizza and crappy reality television. Unfortunately, that wasn’t really an option, so I stopped after a short while to eat a little bit and relax.
The end of the day was a nice, long descent which was very welcome. I was setting a land speed record down the hill, when a stick shot up into my drivetrain. I immediately did a totally sweet skid to check out the possible damage. Luckily, it just lodged into my cassette, rather than ripping off the derailleur itself. Small victories.
I popped out onto a road, and the trail went directly through a campsite. Good enough for me! I pulled in, and there was a guy doing push ups next to his car, just getting freakin’ massive. I talked to him for a bit, he does 1500 push ups and runs to the top of the mountain from the campsite three times a week. Pretty solid workout.
I went up and introduced myself to the camp hosts, an elderly couple who were very nice. They told me not to pay, let me look at their map to try and figure out how far I had left, gave me some bread and butter, and chatted with me for a while. I made a rather large dinner, then set off to the creek to try and take some pictures. I was back to a single shoe, and spent about an hour walking around with a single Croc looking super homeless. The campsite had WiFi and electric, so I was able to check in and recharge my camera battery, which was awesome. I was unsure how much distance I had left, but figured I would just ride hard to finish it out, I was ready to be done.
I ended the day at 32 miles in 4.5 hours of riding. It was a very enjoyable day of riding. Thanks for reading, here are a few more pics.