In Virginia: Cooler weather and fewer dogs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

As I slept on a gym floor last night near Lookout, Ky., the weather was changing. I got up this morning to a low of 53 and soon left out wearing three layers. The sun doesn’t rise over those mountains till late in the morning, and it was still just 69 degrees at noon.

After my nightly ritual of studying the maps, I also knew that this would be probably the toughest climbing day in quite a while. Good thing for the cool weather.

One of my other concerns for the day was the coal trucks and how much we would bother each other. My first town today was Ashcamp, and from there I headed east to Elkhorn City. There was an 8-mile stretch following a stream, bringing back memories of the western states. Along that creek were lots of dogs that didn’t like me riding on their roads. I was fortunate enough to catch them all going at a pretty fast clip, so a couple of kicking motions and I was free of them.

Elkhorn City was the place where I saw plenty of coal trucks, so I just got off the road when they were coming behind me. In this area, the hills got steep and long, so I was glad for the breaks.

Very soon afterwards, I left Kentucky behind. Goodbye to the land of mean dogs and rumble strips. Nearly every road in the state has rumble strips on the side, limiting the space that I could ride. So far, I have not seen a rumble strip in Virginia. I guess drivers in Virginia are more prone to stay awake.

Other towns of note were Haysi, where the biggest thing happening was a very busy convenience store. It was at the bottom of a series of hills called ‘the Breaks,’ so I needed a boost. On to Birchleaf, Bee, Davenport and Council. All were either just before a mountain or after one, and none of these towns believe in any flat land.

I came rolling into Honaker feeling pretty good that I could call it a day soon. Just after I rolled through the main part of town, I had my fourth flat of the trip. Once again, it was on the rear tire, meaning a longer repair time. My goal for the day was Rosedale, and after the flat I couldn’t wait to get there.

About that time, Benny Martin from Lebanon, Va., stopped to see if I needed any help. We ended up talking about tire repair, and his desire to soon do a long-distance trip. Benny helped me finish up and gave me some idea of what to expect on the way to Rosedale. Of course, it was another climb!

Once I reached Rosedale, I found the Elk Garden United Methodist Church. The church leaves the door open all the time for cyclists, and even has food in the refrigerator for us. They have a shower outside, but it is already too cool for that since there is only cold water. I will get my next shower tomorrow night. The church was built in 1798 and has immaculate grounds as well as the church building.

About the time I got unpacked, Benny drove up with some CO2 canisters that I could use to inflate the tire on my next flat. He brought his girlfriend, and we all had a nice talk.

Tomorrow, I will be out early, with the goal of one hard climb first and then making Damascus by middle of the day. I need a little bike work, plus I need to get the bike shop’s thoughts on my planned route for the next few days. Possibly I will take the afternoon off. My legs are spent.

I had a laugh today when I saw the highest mountain on today’s schedule. It is called the Big A mountain. I guess that trumps the ‘Big Hill’ from a few days ago.

Total mileage for today was a hard-earned 63.

View David Freeze’s ride in a larger map