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Rolling into North Carolina

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun

Very early this morning, I left the great accommodations at the Elk Garden Methodist Church in Rosedale. I didn’t get that cold shower, but I had everything else that I needed. Once again, sleeping in a church was very comforting for me.

After leaving the church, I had a nice few miles through the countryside, then started climbing Webb Mountain. It wasn’t too steep on my side, and it was cool and very shady. Over my whole journey, I don’t think I enjoyed another mountain as much. I stopped in Hayter’s Gap to see if I could use the WiFi in their library. It didn’t open till 11 a.m., so I kept on rolling. The Virginia countryside was absolutely beautiful, and I even heard some cows with bells. Virginia keeps their trash picked up, much different than Kentucky. Maybe people just care more and don’t litter.

Up and over some smaller hills, the next town was Meadowview. I did stop and load up at the convenience store before heading to Damascus, the goal of my journey.

Damascus is known for several things, The Virginia Creeper trail goes through town, and according to one of my new acquaintances today, it is the most popular rail trail in the country. The Appalachian Trail also passes through, and so does the Transamerica Bicycle Tour. Drivers were very courteous as I came into town.

My goal was some minor repair on the bike. The chain needed oiling and the lower gears were grinding a little with all the work over the last couple of weeks. The battery on my cyclometer is signaling that it needs changing. Last thing, I needed some help on my directions toward home. I met Bill right away as he was cycling on the Creeper Trail, and he told me of the best bike shop and even went with me to make sure I got the right mechanic. Gary did a great job on the chain and shifters, but he couldn’t help me on the battery. He did tell me how to fix it myself. From both Bill and Gary, I got a few pointers on the directions. However, they were not familiar with most of the roads away from town.

I grabbed a nice lunch at Subway, and headed out. I wasn’t really sure how much climbing I had to do, but both Bill and Gary assured me it was significant.

I stayed on the Transamerica Tour and then veered off with Highway 58, called the Jeb Stuart Highway. Just as Bill said, the major climbing ceased for a while after 8 miles, but then it started again as I climbed to Whitetop, Va. I thought surely the worst was over, but then there still remained a good climb to get past the Grayson Highlands. My oiled and adjusted gears were doing much better than my legs.

I kept seeing signs for Mouth of Wilson, Va., and thought there must be something in the town. Nothing, except Oak Hill Academy, home of great prep basketball teams. There was nothing to do but keep going, and I did. As it was getting cloudy and dark, I passed into North Carolina on Highway 93. It was sure good to see that sign.

I still had a dilemma of where to go for the night, and I needed to find a place to camp. I stopped at Maria Hurtado’s convenience store, and she offered me a place behind the store. We talked about the ride, and I got a lot of great food from her. She left me with a note, just in case the police come by.

My tent is set up, and I hope for another good night’s sleep. I have had several in a row now. I will keep rolling toward home tomorrow.

David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

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