My parents made another delicious breakfast again this morning and we left Damascus before 8. We all wished we could have stayed another day! We saw Josh and Claudia on the edge of town; they were stopping at a diner for breakfast.
The climb out of town looked horrible on the map but as we started climbing it felt very easy. The Virginia Creeper Trail parallels the road and Seth tried to talk me into taking it instead of the road...it is a hard packed gravel surface and we started riding it for about a half mile. We came across a man jogging and asked him about getting back to the road from the trail 10 miles up, and he told us it was a very steep gravel road between the Creeper and the main road. Determined not to walk my bicycle, we opted for the road. It was still a beautiful ride through the thick forest with the morning sun peeking through the trees. The traffic was light and the air cool, and Seth and I talked the entire 20 miles, making the time pass quickly.
On the way down we came to a section of road construction and had to wait nearly 15 minutes to pass. They had a pilot car to lead us through and Seth and I were caught between two cars. We did our best to keep up, shifting into our highest gears (I think this was the first time for me this trip) and peddling as hard as we could. We made it through and laughed about how exhausted we were, but we made great time for those 3 miles!
We took a lunch break in Sugar Grove at the bottom of the mountain, and the next several miles were easy riding. My parents came and surprised us, and we enjoyed cold water, soda, and Gatorade! We are planning to see them again tomorrow before they go home.
We got a text from George today that his front sprocket was bent and he kept losing his chain. He wasn't sure how it happened but he rode off route to Marion to get it fixed. He and Mary are in a hotel tonight.
The rest of the day was similar ups and downs, and we stopped for an afternoon snack in Wytheville at Taco Bell. We crossed under I-81 and over I-77 and continued to Pioneer Village Campground where we are staying for the night. We arrived at 5:30...a surprising 73 miles on a day after a zero! Josh and Claudia arrived around 7 and Josh's family is camping here as well.
Unfortunately we can hear the interstate from the campground but the mountain view is beautiful in the evening light. This is the first night I have not been miserably hot inside the tent and it is wonderful! I hope I can snuggle down in my sleeping bag tonight!