April 8 - 23: Virginia

4/19 - Damascus (69 miles 471 total)
we had the motel's continental breakfast this morning, then took off. gloria wanted us to leave a little earlier since this was our longest day yet. it was sooooo cold this morning....very cloudy & just downright cold. i think it was in the 40's. we had watched the weather channel during breakfast & regrettted it...because the forecaster had told about temps in the 70's & that's what we dressed for. no more weather channel for us!
the hills were considerable.
notice sue leading a group up a long long long long but relatively manageable uphill climb....& one of the large trucks we encountered going down (yikes).
marcia's altimeter shows that we climbed 4000 ft today. later, the fellows in the local bike store in damascus told us that the hills we've encountered so far are just bumps compared to what we're facing on down the road.
we spent a lot of time in mt. rogers national recreational area. the forests were beautiful. rhododendrons were growing like weeds, covering many of the ditches & hillsides. when those start blooming, it's going to be spectacular around here.....even more spectacular than it already is. beautiful, sparkling mountain streams rushed alongside the roads we traversed.
by late morning the sun finally came out & the afternoon was gorgeous....still cool but very comfy. sari, phyllis, & i stopped at koonarock, va, in a little convenience store. the fellow who owns it was putting out his hummingbird feeder for the year, as he had just seen his first hummingbird before we arrived. he said that if he doesn't get the feeder out early enuf, the hummingbirds peck on his store window. inside the store he had a grey cockatiel named ringo with a 'beware of bird' sign on it. i guess it doesn't cotton to people sticking their fingers into its cage....& lets them know.
out in the parking lot as we were getting ready to leave we struck up conversations with the coca cola delivery person & the lance delivery guy. both were curious about our group & our ride. the lance guy was telling us how he plans to retire by 50 & one of the things he wants to do is ride the length of the transamerica trail.
we had only one long hill to climb after we left koonarock....& with many switchbacks, it wasn't that steep (especially compared with this morning). then there was a very long downhill coast into damascus, our overnight town tonight. we were to stay at a church-run hostel here. the 3 of us arrived at the united methodist hostel to find patti & the trailer & van & a few of the riders....plus quite a few fellows sitting in the yard chatting. patti told us that the hostel where we were to stay was already full of men who were stopping over during their hike of the appalachian trail, which goes thru damascus. so gloria was out & around town on her bicycle looking for other accommodations for all of us. she rounded up 3 bed-&-breakfasts & a garage-top apartment. i'm in the apartment....with 9 others. some have beds & several of us are on blow-up mattresses with our sleeping bags. we're enjoying the relaxing sound of a rushing river just outside the windows of our beautiful tho' snug accommodations. (the accommodations would be very spacious for numbers less than 9!)
the couple who owns the garage apartment & the lovely home next door is clarence & carolyn pruitt. they have gone out of their way to make us all comfortable. clarence even drove the van & trailer from the hostel over to his driveway & parked it (quite a formidable task involving backing up the trailer!) so that patti could finish our supper. we dined in the garage's driveway. clarence has let us park our bikes in his 3-car garage. clarence & carolyn are master renovators & decorators. they let me use a phone line in their home, so i got to see the beautiful work they've done renovating & decorating their place.
that's clarence, carolyn, & pup fluffy in the photo in front of their home.
whenever you're in this area, by all means plan a stay at Riverside View (phone 540-475-5361). it's a brand-new apartment & in fact the sign isn't yet up out front, but it will be by the time you visit.
several of us went on down the street late afternoon to a local bike shop to get various problems with bikes fixed. we found fantastically friendly & talented fellows there. the shop is a large one with a varied inventory; you wouldn't expect it in this small town. & in fact michael told us that they draw customers from larger towns in the area. no surprise! they fixed our bikes for way less than their expertise was worth to us.
that's michael & expert mechanic bill in the photo.
they're at Adventure Damascus, a bicycle shop & tour company--shuttle service & bike rentals for virginia creeper & area trails. don't miss stopping when you're in the area.
we'll only do 31 mi tomorrow. most of it is uphill or frighteningly (for me) downhill. tomorrow night we'll stay in a church fellowship hall.....no showers & most likely no phone hookup. but of course the way our accommodations are going these days, who knows where we'll end up.
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....

This page, and all linked pages, were created on an Apple iMac DV SE running Mac OS 9, BBEdit Lite 4.6, Fetch 3.03, and Netscape 4.7.