12-15 May 2010

12 May 2010
11/81 Natural Bridge, VA
Leaving Vesuvius this morning, I was full of energy and ready to tackle the ride ahead of me. My legs then remembered that peddling was hard. So after a quick break only 3 miles into my ride, I regained my cycling legs and carried on. Dan, an older gentleman from Charlotte, North Carolina, told me about a natural rock formation called Natural Bridge. It was about 7 miles out of my way but I decided to experience it. When I arrived at the welcome center for Natural Bridge, I came to find out that it was a tourist attraction that you needed to pay to see. Interesting. A natural beauty that God put here, and people charge money to let others experience it. Hmmmmm. Doesn’t seem right some how. I decided to skip it and move on. Maybe I would get a glimpse of it from the road as I passed it by. No such luck. Whomever owns the property put up a 9 foot high plank fence so it wasn’t visible from the road. I understand the business end of it completely but money is nothing folks. A necessity to get us through this life we have put ourselves in.
So anyway. I have been leapfrogging all day with a group of cyclist that met each other years ago through various means and circumstances. They road on ahead to Buchannon and I decided to rest here in Natural Bridge for the night.
I have seen some of the most beautiful country side and farm houses on the trip so far. Reyanna and Cliff, sorry for the spelling of your name Reyanna, who own a horse farm on route 11 just outside of Lexington. The Virginia Military Academy was a great welcome to Lexington as well. Riding through the center of town re-energized me. I am pretty content with todays’ ride, even if it was only 42 miles. Todays’ ride was a good soul ride. I hope there is such a thing because I would hate to be the only one who has experienced it. A phrase in a song sticks in my head and brings me to tears as I push through a thunderstorm in the foothills smiling and letting go of one more piece of pain.
“You, shimmy shook my bone
Leaving me stranded all in love on my own
What do you think of me
Where am I now? Baby where do I sleep
One more memory gets closer to fading away and not bringing me to my knees.”
Artist: Kings Of Leon, Title: Closer
Unfortunately, I fear tonight may be one of the worst nights sleep I get. I am camping behind an Exxon in a perfect spot. The only problem being, there is a lot of traffic and I do not trust people. I have experienced nothing but good will so far on this journey but the closer I am to the “modern/civilized” world the more guarded I am. Hopefully it will be an uneventful evening other than the ridiculous storm I am watching roll in. Thunder and lightning and a crap ton of rain, Oh My!

15 May 2010
Christiansburg, VA
Where do I begin with Christiansburg? How about the arduous task of even getting here. Since I owe you a couple of days we’ll rewind a bit. 2 days ago was the beginning of yesterdays butt kicking. Still with me? If not I’ll give you a couple of seconds to catch up. ……. Okay. So it was my bright idea not to set up my tent the other night and just sleep under the large overhang of a closed down cyclist friendly store, during the storm. Cold. Wet. Loud. Good thing that did come of it was that I now know that the emergency thermal blanket really works. So after my wonderfully fulfilling 3 hours of sleep, I began my day leap frogging with a group I met the day before. I then met up with the group from Adventure Cycling. They were pretty cool people. Lee was from Whales. Joe was from Pittsburgh. There were several other people from varying places like Oregon, Canada, Norway, New York, and so on. All of them making the ride to Astoria, Oregon. All of us different. All of us sweating and aching and smiling from ear to ear. We all have our own personal reasons for making this journey but the general answer that is given is very simple, “I just had to do it”.
So the rest of the day consisted of what I would call slightly more hill then rolling. It was hot and I was tired and drinking more water to compensate for my lack of energy. Pretty soon, no water. Pretty soon feeling crappy. So, I pulled over to the first house I saw and relieved their outside faucet of about two gallons or so of water and took a nice 20 minute break. Oh, and for some of you medical freaks out there, some of the water came with me, duh. Anyway, I was feeling a lot better and just in time for a little gas station where I met 3 more cyclist from the group. Ummm, some guy, Brin and Abby. Yeah, I know. I then ate a hoagie and a chili dog and commenced the hardest part of the day. I could not believe it was getting harder with only 4 miles to Christiansburg. The entire next 3 miles were exactly like the next symbol, ^. Oh, except it did this too, ~. I had to walk probably a total of ¼ mile of the sixty I rode that day. It would also have helped if first gear was working as well. Kinda hard to do that in 2-1.
So the girls said where they all were camping and told me to join them. They’ve been talking about where they ride back home and stories about their days. Fun times. So, needless to say, I was the last one to arrive in town and couldn’t figure out where this church was. After about 15 people and several nods and drive offs, I was able to flag down a Fire Rescue Marshal. Kinda helpful. Then I rode up to an officer in the Burger King drive through. Couldn’t talk him into a Whopper but did get some really helpful information that led me to where I am now. I didn’t want to make an extra fifteen mile round trip back into town for a couple of things to back track right back out. Turns out, Roxanne, the pastors wife here at New Hope Church of God in Christiansburg, VA, is super cool. First they let me set up under their picnic area. Then she left the door to the church van open just in case the storm turned really bad. Then she told me to go ahead and stay in the visiting pastors trailer. Well, I slept with my tent because I was exhausted from the past two days of riding 120 miles on 3 hours. Don’t do that. I then woke up this morning rode over to the very nice fully furnished trailer and took a nice hot shower and washed some riding clothes in the sink. Awesome, awesome, awesome! I decided to stay tonight because I really wanted to go to church tomorrow and what better place then here. My simple prayer, “Please lead me on the path you want me to take Lord, and thank You”.  Repeating the words “Thank You” over and over until a smile crosses my face and there is peace.

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