Day 5: Afton, VA ➡️ Lexington, VA

Today’s mileage: 52

Total mileage: 275.4

When I say this was the hardest day of my life thus far, I mean it.

I was hoping to get better sleep last night at the Cookie Lady’s house, but it just didn’t happen. It monsooned all night long and my phone was going off with those startling alarms that go off for flash flood warnings.

It was so hard to get up. My body said, “sleep”…my heart said, “sleep”…but my brain said, “bike.”

I hobbled out of bed and started packing up my belongings into my panniers. Both pairs of my padded bike shorts were wet from the days they were worn in the rain. They’re very hard to get dry. I put on my nike pro shorts, as they were the only shorts I have that were dry.

I put on my sopping wet shoes, and we headed out.

It had rained so much the night before, the roads were flooding. It didn’t matter that my shoes were wet; they were going to be getting wet anyway.

We started our morning with a 2 mile climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The second we started pedaling from the Cookie Lady’s door, our climb started.

It wasn’t that bad. It was extremely foggy, though, so we had to be extra cautious and pay even more attention to the cars coming up on us.

500 ft takes forever when your riding a loaded touring bike up a hill. But we got there eventually.

So, a few days ago, a lady told us that once we made it onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, the hills would be just nice rolling hills. We got onto the parkway and we kept climbing, and climbing…

Apparently we weren’t actually on the Blue Ridge Parkway yet. But we thought it would surely it will get better.

The mountains were socked in with fog. We couldn’t see much of anything, but it totally felt like we were in Jurassic Park…minus the dinosaurs.

Can you spot Masherra’s bike in the picture above? Me neither.

Today, we climbed for 12 miles before having a down hill section. It was beautiful, but our legs were pretty much falling off.

I felt so discouraged. It’s so frustrating hauling a 70 lb load up the Appalachian Mountains. Touring bikes are slow anyway because they are made out of steel and are heavy, but when you’re averaging 2 mph up the hills, it really takes a toll on you mentally. I seriously wondered how in the world I was able to keep pushing on. Masherra was doing great. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have made it.

The higher we went, the views kept getting prettier and prettier. We had a few pretty fun descents, but the day was mostly uphill. I’m not sure exactly how many miles were spent climbing today, but I know it was somewhere between 20 and 25 miles. That’s a lot of climbing.

See the road in the last picture? We had climbs like that for miles and miles and I never thought they would end. You would make it up a section, and then go around the bend only to find another section….over and over and over again.

If you look in the center of the elevation profile on my map, you can see a graph of the riding we did today. We were on the center two panels.

Finally, it leveled out, and then we had a steep 4 mile descent into Vesuvius. We were excited for it.

Well, let me tell you….it was steep. We had to stop several times on the way down to take a break from holding our brakes. We went from having tired legs to having tired hands….and we joked about complaining about riding downhill after we spent an entire day riding uphill. I always try to feather my breaks on descents to prevent my brake pads from quickly wearing out, but on this descent you couldn’t rely on feathering too much because you would get going way too fast.

The road was wet and twisty, and there was random loose gravel all over the road. It would have been very easy to lose control if we weren’t careful….especially with the extra momentum we have from the loads we are packing.

Finally, we made it to Vesuvius. We decided to push on to Lexington.

And then we started to climb again…

A man drove by us and told us that we only had a quarter mile more of the hill we were on, and it would be downhill almost all the way to Lexington.

Not too long after we made it to the easy part, thunder started up in the distance, and we saw a few cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. A lady drove by us and told us we needed to be going back in the other direction, but I don’t think she understood that there was not any way we were riding back up some of those hills. 😂

The storm rolled in and we. got. soaked.

The rain was coming down so hard, it felt like needles hitting your skin. You could see the wind blow across the pavement, and then BAM! You would get hit with a gust of wind, and it felt like you were being sand blasted…except with rain.

It rained for a while. That was my last pair of dry clothes.

On our way into Lexington, we started climbing again. We were riding up a pretty steep hill, and had to stop halfway up it. When we tried to get going again, it was so steep it took me 3 times to try to get on my bike and get moving. One of those times, I went off the shoulder of the road and hit my leg and almost bit the dust. My bike did, though. It knocked my chain off, and so I put it back on.

We finally arrived in Lexington. And guess what….?

We got a hotel room, baby! And there’s a gas station, and a grocery store, and pizza, and laundry!

And, since I’m doing laundry, I have no other clothes to wear except these long pants and a jacket. I look like I’m dressed for winter walking around in this!

Today was tough. But we got through it. We are so tired, everything seems funny at this point. I have laughed until I have cried today at the silliest things.

We need sleep.

Aspen

One thought on “Day 5: Afton, VA ➡️ Lexington, VA

  1. Oh my goodness! What a day! And what an adventure you two are on! Super jealous! Sorry for all the “!” It’s excitment after reading that, not yelling haha but just think, now any day after this that seems rough, you’ve already had a harder day, perspective 🙂 keep on peddling and posting. Can’t wait to read the next chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

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