As a light sleeper as soon as the house moves, I wake up. With no crying baby in the morning, I instead woke up to the coffee being ground, which is such a better way to wake up. Once I moved, the two year old was ready to party. I had been mulling over Brian’s warning about the weather all night, but had decided to leave anyways. I goggled places to stay along the way just in case and headed out. I had a my first massive climb of the tour up a county road to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I discussed the route with Brian, who convinced me that there was a longer, but easier grade up. The caveat was that there was way more traffic. I had handled the worst traffic and roads in Maryland and DC, so was not nearly as concerned about VA state highway traffic.
Five miles later and I was passing thru Rockfish Gap and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was glorious, but hilly, and possibly mountainous. When I got to the visitor’s center, I inquired about the impending weather. The response scared me. I had five miles, almost entirely uphill, followed by four more miles of up and down until I would reach a group of cabins I was considering stay in. I had less than an hour and half before the rain hit me according to the visitor’s center. I kicked off and hauled ass as much as possible to make it before the storm hit. I arrived in Love, VA at Royal Oaks Cabins at 1:15; the rain hit at 1:45. I got an efficiency cabin, three shitty microwave meals, a box of Cheeze-Itz, and four DVDs. It rained all day. Every hour I took a photo to justify to myself staying there. I was justified so many times over. It rained until at least midnight with high wind gusts through out that time. I watched two of the four DVDs, and passed out. It was a nice short day.
Downhill and Lexington VA (not KY)
There was an intense downhill that had ultimately influenced my decision to stay over the previous night. Going down in the rain and wind would be exceedingly dangerous, not to mention stupid. In the morning, the rain had cleared and it was beautiful. I rode about ten miles and began the massive downhill. It was a glorious, nerve racking twenty minutes downhill. I watched for gravel slicks and still managed to reach almost 40 mph. When I made it to the valley I couldn’t stop smiling. It was absolutely exhilarating to fly down a mountain at those speeds.
Cruising through the valley I stopped at a bridge to eat some snacks and drink water, something I have been trying to schedule in more and more. I haven’t been the best about eating and drinking while on the road; my energy and concentration have suffered. It was here that I met my first Transamerican cyclist. His name is Ed and he had done the majority of the trail last year after an unfortunate incident in Lexington, VA. He recounted the story of being side swiped by a car in Lexington, which was the next city we were going through. Great, I thought, here is a guy whose done this before and he’s telling me he had an almost game changing and ending experience just up the road. Great flipping timing. I decided to stay in high spirits and peddle to Devil’s Backbone Brewery just off the trail (of course, it was off the trail and uphill). [Side note: if a road is called “Peters Hill Rd” it is almost certainly a hill. Worse yet if its called “Old Man Mountain Rd.” Stay away, don’t take these detours.]
I made it in shortly after they opened. A nice clean lager seemed appropriate and tasted great. A had a friend who worked here named C-Bass. His real name is Cory but as we hiked the AT together, I knew him by his trail name. He had to work until 4:30 so I set up my mobile command center and proceeded to try as many different beers as possible. After he got off work, he graciously gave me a tour of the new facility. It is an impressive, German-styled facility, replete with real Germans welding in the back room and listening to shitty techno music. And it was so wonderfully clean and sanitary. Stainless on stainless on stainless, and their own cooperage to boot. And an external calandria and several new 240 bbl fermenters. It sounds like the brewery is hoping to become even more deeply distributed in VA and be an important player in the regional craft beer scene, which they are already doing.
There was an event that night at a local bar, which we attended. Two major highlights: one is a new medical term I thought was an old man word, Carbuncle (and carbunculosis); the other was the DJ at the event. He had massive white boy dreads and was dressed in all new Sherwin-Williams painter’s whites. At first I didn’t understand, but then as night fell it became apparent their purpose. He had a black light, and was lit up like we were at a rave. It was so gloriously ridiculous.
That night, we enjoyed the Bruery’s Beauregard, a blue berry sour from heaven. Cory also reminded of a couple of stops I had long ago planned to visit which were on my way. The first was one of the seven natural wonders of the New World, Natural Bridge (VA not KY). The other is a feat of modern building materials, Foamhenge, a foam replica of Stonehenge. I was stoked.
Published: May 26, 2014