I had planned to have a bit of a lie in and try not to go as far. While I acheived both of these – getting up at 07.00 and only going 82 miles this did not make for an easy day. The day got off to a good start with a woman I had talked to the night before kindly giving me $20 towards my trip at breakfast! I made good time in the morning, using an alternate route toward Afton, a small town on the edge of the Appalacian mountains.
The climb up ‘Afton Mountain’ to Afton is renown on the route as being one of the toughest climbs along the entirety of the trail. The day didn’t get any easier from Afton, as once there I turned onto the Blueridge Parkway. This is apparently refered to as “America’s favourite drive”, and it is easy to see why – the scenery along the streach that I traveled today was awesome. But on a bike this comes at a price – in the 82 miles I travelled today, I gained well over 5000 feet, most of it along the 24 mile strech of parkway. I also had an unexpected problem, in trying to restock with food an water – between Afton and the end of the parkway there was only 1 open store in a place called ‘Love’. By the time I got there I was starving, and It felt great to have something in my stomach again! After re-fueling the rest of the parkway felt easier and in no-time I was at the top, and ready to go downhill.
The decent down from the parkway to the town of Vesuvius is the steepest and longest of the entire journey – I dropped about 1500 feet over 3 miles and hit my fasted ever speed on a bike of 51mph! The decent was so steep that I had to stop a couple of times to let my brakes cool down.
I had thought that I might spend the night in Vesuvius, but it proved to be yet another goast town – it’s 1 motel was shut – in fact the only thing open was a pretty seedy looking store. So I pushed on to Lexington. The 24 miles on to Lexington went slowly – the route 76 signs that mark the trail in Virginia became a bit misleading (I think some might have been put in the wrong places after I came across one pointing me onto an interstate!) so I had to resort to my IPhone’s GPS to get me back on course.
Even when i got to Lexington the first place I tried had no vacancies, so I tried the next motel along and the woman there gave me their last room 1/2 price. My bikes gears started to play up a bit today, so, since I am ahead of schedule at this point I am going to put in a shorter day tomorrow and get it checked + get some other admin done.