Today’s Mileage: 56.6
Total Mileage: 511
You know how yesterday I said it was the best day in the history of days? Well I was wrong. Today was!
We woke up pretty early and got our gear all loaded up and ready to go. We talked a little bit more to Hoodlum since he shared our bunkhouse with us. He asked us if he snored, and we said we didn’t know because we were asleep…..(that’s code for “yeah, dude, you snored”). 😂
It was freezing when we woke up. I had my long Pearl Izumi cycling leggings on and a long sleeve dry fit shirt. I actually had to put on my down jacket.
We started our day with a nice descent, but then we had a pretty long climb to do before we had a really long descent into Damascus. This dog distracted us from the impending doom:
About 3 miles into our ride, my leggings weren’t cutting it, so I decided to trade warmth for comfort and changed into my padded cycling shorts……on the side of the road. I mean…….there weren’t any other places to change. 💁🏼♀️
As we started our climb, we passed several Appalachian Trail signs, so we had to get pictures!
We climbed and climbed….but you know what? We did awesome. Our legs were rested and we just trucked right along.
After we reached the top of our climb, we headed for Damascus. It was literally about a 17 mile descent with one hill thrown in there somewhere. It was super fun winding down, down, down alongside a creek and occasionally popping out on the side of the mountain. I have no hesitation saying it was the most fun I have ever had on a bike.
We arrived in Damascus around 10:30. Damascus is a small town where Appalachian Trail hikers stop to restock their food, clothes, and other necessities. The first thing we saw was a Subway. When you’re on a bike tour and you see a Subway, you stop and eat.
After we ate, we were making calls to everyone we normally keep in contact with. While we were hanging out, a guy rode by on his bike and started talking to us and asking us questions and giving us a heads up on some of the climbs that we have ahead of us. Before he rode off, he told us he was a bike mechanic at the bike shop just around the corner. Mash has been having some minor issues with her gears, so we walked our bikes over to the shop so he could fix it. Easy fix.
We continued our descent after we left Damascus. But, we knew what was coming. We had a climb that gained about 1500 vertical ft over 3 miles. This sign signified our last 10 miles of bliss:
Before we started our climb, we were out in the Virginia countryside again. I can’t get over how pretty it is.
Just as we started our climb up what we would later call “Big Bertha”, we had a couple stop to ask us if we needed anything since they lived just up the road. It was the man’s birthday!
I saw some tire marks on the road. It looked like Masherra had made them. If only people knew we were climbing at 3 mph. 😂💁🏼♀️
We climbed, we climbed, and we climbed. Switchback after switchback, it seemed like we were never going to get to the top. I kept watching the altimeter on my gps, and it would only go up a little bit between every time we would stop. You could hear cars in the distance speeding up on the straightaways, slowing down on the sharp, steep turns. We would listen to the motors in the distance and try to count how many switchbacks were left. They were never ending.
About halfway up, we began to lose it. There was a tree branch that looked like it was clapping for us. There were times we couldn’t hardly get started because the road was so steep. There were people driving by telling us “good job” and “you’re almost there”. We were hysterically laughing about the name Big Bertha because it suited the mountain so well.
Big Bertha gave us a run for our money, but we won. And we had another fantastic and fun descent down to the countryside.
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at another hostel for bikers. There have been so many churches we have came across that offer refuge for cyclists on tour. We are so thankful for these churches that are so giving. They often open up the entire church, allowing us to use the kitchen and even eat the food in the fridge!
We were reading the biker log, and this person had an accurate description of the mountain we climbed and the feeling of arriving at the hostel:
As if Subway and snacking all day wasn’t enough, I just ate two of the frozen meals in the fridge and could probably eat another one 😂
Before going to bed tonight, a couple on the TransAm about 50 miles ahead of us sent me a message saying the highway our route is on will be closed in a section tomorrow. The section is the last mile before crossing the state line into KY. After calling several sheriff departments and departments of transportation, we couldn’t get a hold of anyone. The road is closed in a small section where they are replacing some pipes. So, the plan is to just make a go for it and hope they let cyclists through. If not, we’re still finding a way into our Old KY Home. We won’t take no for an answer. 😂
KY, we’re coming for ya!!!