April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/18 - Ft. Chiswell (46 miles 402 total)
it rained most of last night & was still at it this morning when we awoke & wandered outside to find our breakfast set up on the walkway outside gloria's motel room. after eating breakfast, putting together sandwiches & other goodies for lunch, & loading our gear into the trailer, we began pedalling off into a rainy, cold morning. fortunately we were quickly routed out of town & onto country roads. but oh boy there were lots of hills today....some pretty steep. the fact that we were cold & very wet made them seem more onerous than yesterday.
after a couple of hours or so, the rain lightened to a heavy mist. & finally we came upon a cute little country store...as we were in dire need of a potty stop. this little store had a porta potty parked outside.......but any potty in a storm. there were 2 fellows bustling inside shelving inventory from boxes. i picked out a carton of chocolate milk from the cooler & was chatting with one of the fellows about how cold & wet it was for biking. he then suggested that i get a cup & heat up the chocolate milk in the microwave (which i hadn't even noticed). sari split the chocolate milk with me, so we both had some hot cocoa....& wow did it taste good.
the photo shows sari with tommy church & dave hoover in their "country store" on old US rt. 100 in newbern, va.
sari, phyllis, & i hadn't gotten a mile on down the road when my right gear cable snapped. so for the next couple of miles or so, i walked up the steepest hills. i didn't want to risk blasting my kneecaps off trying to climb hills without my granny gear. we pulled into the large parking lot of the kingdom hall church, where patti had set up lunch....a delicious tomato/rice soup. what a wonderful surprise to find jo & becky there! they were 2 of the staff people who had been with us the first week, but had gone back to their homes in virginia last saturday. we've missed them. becky will join us again in jackson, wy, & continue with us to oregon after gloria leaves the trip. but jo used to say she wouldn't be joining us again. we're working very hard to change her mind.
in the photo from left are gerri, judy, jo, becky, & jackie.
what a boon it turned out to be for me that jo & becky were there. they offered to take me & my bike to a bike shop in draper to get the gear cable fixed. gerrie has also been having problems with her bike, so they took her, too. it turned out that the bike store in draper was kaput, so we started backtracking, first to pulaski (no bike shop), then back to radford. we found a little old bike shop not too far into town.
we opened the front door & saw 3 mechanics working way at the back of the shop....but there seemed to be no way to get back to them. (see photo taken from just inside the front door of the shop.)
one of them saw us standing bewildered in the front doorway & came to our rescue....picking up the front of my bike & rolling it on only its back wheel to the back of the shop. there, mike, the mechanic, made quick work of installing a new rear bike cable on my bike.
the photo shows mike explaining to becky what he was doing. she was glad for the lesson. then he fixed gerrie gearing problems. & THEN he would take no money for materials or his labor.
i bought a couple of things & then we left. we had a wonderful time there....chatting with mike & the other 2 mechanics. by all means, if you're ever in the vicinity of radford, va, DO stop at the NEW WHEEL bike shop, 1210 norwood street, & say hello to mike, norman, & wes. they have collector bikes, too. they also have a shop in blacksburg, va--hokie spokes.
jo & becky took gerrie & me & our bikes back to the church parking lot so we could continue on our ride without losing any miles. by this time we were getting back onto the road a couple of hours after all the others had left the church. jo & becky had brot jo's bike twosday (a tandem bike friday) so they could take a little spin. because they took gerrie & me to the bike shop, they didn't end up with time for much of a spin. gerrie & i rode the remaining 15 mi into fort chiswell without incident...& fortunately no rain, tho' the winds picked up & it was still chilly. i had my rain pants on all day to try to keep a little drier & warmer. by the time the rain stopped this afternoon, the shorts i had on underneath the rainpants were so dripping wet from sweating inside the rainpants that i couldn't take off the rainpants for fear of freezing to death. doesn't THAT sound like a comfy afternoon ride?? the country inn & suites where we're staying is nice, but their phone lines don't let computers out, so this report will be at least a day late.....'til i find a good connection. since we're staying at hostels the next 2 nights. this report may be REALLY late.
tonight patti fixed chicken enchiladas for supper...with cheese enchiladas for the vegetarians.....& a big bowl of steamed fresh broccoli & cauliflower. then for dessert, a delicious apple/blueberry cobbler. all was, as always, absolutely scrumptious.
several of us took advantage of the laundry at the motel tonight. that was nice....but a frustrating thing about this motel has been that those electronic key cards they give you work only for one or 2 times; after that you have to go back down to the desk to get them re-upped.
tomorrow we're finally promised a dry day & warmer temps. it'll be a longer day than we're used to...67 miles...so we'll need all the breaks we can get.
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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