April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/17 - Christiansburg (48 miles 356 total)
last night as we got ready for bed there was a ferocious storm banging & flashing outside our motel window....with torrential rains. then this morning, around 7 as we were eating our continental+ breakfast in the motel lobby, we watched the lightning flash & the storm clouds approaching from the west...& soon the rains began again. we knew the forecast for today was 80% chance of storms (so i didn't even take my camera on my bike today). that gave me a chance to eat an extra bowl of cereal & a chocolate-frosted krispy kreme donut. i'd heard about krispy kreme donuts before....that they were super scrumptious....but had never been anywhere where they were available. i had my first one when we stopped at a convenience store yesterday afternoon....& now i'm hooked.
it wasn't much past 8 when the rains subsided, so we all packed our bags into the trailer, brought our bikes from our rooms, & by 8:15 most everyone had pedalled off. phyllis, sari, & i--as usual--got almost to the edge of town before we had to stop & adjust our clothing....taking off rain pants, removing a rain jacket & putting on a lighter jacket, exchanging heavier gloves for lighter gloves, & on & on. as i've mentioned, just the clothes-management chore is a major one in biking, at least for us 3. gauging the weather correctly before taking off in the morning is tricky; we always seem to overdress, then soon start to melt, then it's time to stop for the bikewear adjustments. how do the professionals get it right the first time??
the first 35 mi today was storybook biking.....partly sunny skies, very light breezes, almost desserted roads (well, the first 5 miles or so we had to share the road with a few heavy trucks). our road was a rolling one perched along the edge of a gorgeous valley. some of the hills early in the day were quite steep, but for the most part they were those rollers where you coast down one hill & end up mostly at the top of the next one. in the green valleys were quaint farmsteads & picturesque pastures dotted with cows, horses, & goats. we stopped near midday at a country church to eat the sandwiches & other lunch items we'd packed earlier. i'd already eaten my sandwich at an earlier stop so munched on an energy bar. a nearby forsythia bush provided us a potty stop before we got back on the road.
it wasn't 5 mi past our lunch stop that we noticed dark clouds rolling into the valley from the west. we started looking for cover & soon pulled into someone's yard & settled ourselves onto the cement floor of a little porch on a good-sized tool shed. i went to the house to ask permission for us to seek cover there, but no one was at home. 10 minutes later the drops started falling, the lightning started flashing, & the thunder started rolling. we were there for about an hour....joined by darleene & jackie. the 2 californians, phyllis & sari, found watching a thunderstorm a rare & interesting treat.
gloria came by in the suburu (she had sag duty today) & found us. she told us that the weather on westward was pretty good (she thought), so we ventured out onto the wet roads. we hadn't gone far when we came upon a gas station/convenience store, the main attraction again being its restroom. as usual, we hated to use the restrooms without buying something, so we each did. we were sitting out front eating our snacks when another rainstorm came through. we felt pretty lucky to have dodged 2 storms so far; we didn't prefer to ride in wet clothes, but the main thing we didn't want to do was ride while the lightning was flashing. after that storm seemed to have passeed, we ventured out onto the road again.
but our luck soon ended. just as we were getting into some more hills, the rains started falling, then before long the lightning started flashing. stopping near the foot of a hill, we crept over under some brush....hoping to make ourselves low enough not to attract a lightning bolt. finally the lightning subsided so we started out again....squish squish squish. we were pretty cautious on the wet roads...with the wet tires & wet brake pads. pretty well pooped & soaked, we finally pulled into christiansburg around 4. on the way to our motel we were routed up a ferociously steep & long hill. i made it up about 1/3 of the way before having to get off & walk. but i understand that marcia made it the whole way & joan hendricks much of the way. what a feat!!
i was lucky enuf to spot an eyeglass place along the main street as we rode to our motel, so i stopped. a very nice young girl adjusted my glasses, so now they're fitting better (you remember i sat on them the other day). we arrived at the budget inn & got our rooms; most bikers were already here. a little later sarah called in from the road; she & a couple of others got caught by a hail & lightning storm & needed to be sagged into town.
supper.....are you ready for this?? patti fixed shrimp fajitas with lots of red & yellow peppers, rice & black beans....then sliced fresh strawberries on angel food cake for dessert. she never ceases to amaze--& please--us.
the 1st photo shows patti in the background in her trailer galley here in the budget inn parking lot....with wide-eyed judith in the foreground starting to dish up her supper. you can get a good look at the luscious food on those plates.
the 2nd photo shows patti dishing out the salsa....with a hungry horde of bikers ready to invade the serving line. the faces you can see most easily belong to darleene, sue, & judy.
everyone didn't get thru the serving line before the rains started again. we scattered in groups to some of our motel rooms to eat supper. we were told to bring our own fork, spoon, & cup on this trip, so we each use our own utensils for the meals we don't eat in restaurants. a little later we all gathered in gloria's room for the nightly map meeting. more rain....most all night. it sounds as tho' tomorrow will be rainy again...& maybe cooler; neither is good news for us. but by wednesday we're promised sunshine & warmer temps. looks like neither our biking clothes nor bike bags will dry out 'til midweek.
Don't forget to take a look at the update for Sunday, the 16th, in case you missed it!
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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