Friday August 21
Today was another relatively ‘easy’ day. We rode 34 miles to get to the town of Damasucs Virginia. It was an absolute necessity that we stop here as Lewis and I have been risking life and limb for the last two days. That was when the cable for the front brakes on the tandem snapped. And Damascus has a bike shop or two or three. This is not a very big town, having less than a thousand inhabitants. But it is situated in a very bicycle hip region. The Appalachian trail goes right through this town and lots of people come here to rent bicycles for a couple of hours or a couple of days of fun. None of them know what fun really is. It takes nearly 100 days of cycling to have “real” fun! In additiion, there are scores of people who hike through this region along the same trails.
Our day started with pop tarts and coffee at the United Methodist Church. Then we rode. The rain started after a half and hour and lasted for maybe an hour. After that it was a pleasant day. The sun eventually made an appearance but just like the weathermen predicted, the edge had been taken off. The high temperature today was only in the low 80’s and the humidity has also dropped since yesterday. Life is good as they have also predicted more pleasantries for the weekend.
Our objective today was to get to Damascus as soon as possible to insure that the bike shop had plenty of time to take care of our ‘braking needs’. We managed to pull into town by 2:00 and visited the first shop that was recommended. Unfortunately, the mechanic was without a tool necessary to complete the job so he sent me to another shop. This is where I met Bill. Bill and I spent almost 2 hours getting the front brakes operable. It probably would have taken me a half hour if I was home with my own tools but this was Bills place so I was only his assistant. Nevertheless, we now have fully functioning brakes. It has been just a might bit scary coming down some of these winding hills in the rain with only a rear brake to slow us down. Thanks Bill!
We had dinner in a pizza place not far from the bike shop and are now situated in a real ‘hostel’ in the town of Damascus. This one is also run by a United Methodist Church but is more typical of what you would expect a hostel to be like. This hostel is an actual house situated behind the church. We grabbed one of the three bedrooms upstairs and have utilized 3 of the 6 bunk beds that are in our room. There are bunk beds enough to accommodate at least 24 people inside. After that I would assume that others would chose to pitch a tent outside. There are a couple of showers here and more hikers than bikers. In just a bit I’ll be walking back to the library in town and hopefully updating the blog. While the library will be officially closed, I have been assured by the librarian that their wifi runs through the night.
Tomorrow should be another easy day and one that Donna has been anticipating since we left Shelton over 80 days ago. Her oldest brother Dan has assured us that he will indeed be driving up from Asheville North Carolina to meet us in Troutdale Virginia. I’m not sure how long a drive it is but it can’t be anything like what we will have done to get there. Donna hasn’t seen Dan in 9 years. The last time was when Lewis was a 3 month old infant and we ran into him in Michigan as we were making a visit at the same time that he was. In addition, his wife Ellie will be accompanying him. This should certainly be a highlight of the trip for Donna. I’m looking forward to what Ellie has prepared for lunch as well as cracking open a few beers with Dan. But first we have to ride about 25 miles and climb up 2 significant mountains. Yep, I can actually refer to them as mountains because all of the locals do. They pale in comparison to the Rockies, but they are actually harder to ride. They just keep coming at you. One after another after another. Today we climbed two of these and both times we were ‘pushing’ our bikes again. This bike trip of over 4000 miles (so far) has seen us pushing our bikes instead of riding them for something like 100 miles. This would all be to Lewis’ chagrin!