Tuesday August 25
We were awake and packing up before 8:00 as Thad would be leaving at 8:00 and Betsy a little after 9:00. I had a few minutes to talk with Thad before he left and then I read the paper. No news worth repeating. Betsy showed up and began mixing and baking and a half hour later had prepared 2 dozen muffins, half of them banana and the other half something else. I was unsure of the purpose of these muffins as she never really said “Eat as many as you can!”. That would have been an open invitation for me to wipe out at least a half dozen. I assume she made them for us but it’s possible that they were intended for Sam or she was going to take them to work. So I had one muffin and then some of the fruit left over from dinner the night before. Lewis had a bowl of Cookie Crisp cereal while Donna had a muffin or 2 and some coffee.
After Sarah had pulled out the last of the muffins from the oven she disappeared to prepare for her workday. I used this opportunity to prepare some sandwiches that we would eat later at lunch. This was from the foodstuffs that we’d purchased yesterday for Dinner in the event that we weren’t offered food with the Lees. A whole loaf of french bread with deli turkey and ham and an entire 12 oz package of individually wrapped cheese slices. While I was making sandwiches, Donna began attaching the various bags and assorted bundles to the bikes. When Sarah showed up a few minutes later dressed for work, we all departed together. The muffins sat on the counter untouched. Dang! I probably could have eaten 5 more as that is probably what they were intended for. But I didn’t.
A photo of Sarah and Donna and Lewis was snapped outside just before she departed. She made Lewis promise to send her a postcard when he got home from his trip. This is the same thing that we ask of cyclists who stay with us. Then Sarah left for work. She is a teaching nurse at the college in Radford whilethe good Doctor is primarily a Geriatric general practicioner. We left a few minutes later. Sam was upstairs sleeping the sleep of a 15 year old who has one more week of summer vacation before school starts again (meaning he won’t get up until noon).
We had ridden just over 4 miles when I realized that I hadn’t concluded my packing before starting the sandwiches I previously mentioned. I had intended to put away the computer just before changing from packing mode to food provider mode. I asked Donna if she had grabbed the computer which I’d used in the Lee’s living room the night before. “Nope” was her reply. Dang, and double Dang! So Donna and Lewis waited on the side of the road with the tandem while I raced her unloaded bike back to the Lee’s. The back door was still unlocked meaning that Sam hadn’t awaken yet and departed which enabled me to grab the computer which was sitting right where I knew it was. Since I was there, I swallowed another muffin! Then I raced back to Donna and Lewis. A totally wasted 45 minutes of time and an additional 8 miles of riding that I didn’t need to do. But I got the extra muffin!
The riding conditions today were typical for this time of year in this part of the country. Initially a pea soup like fog enshrouded everything, but this thinned considerably before we left. Then the sun burned through and before we knew it, it was summertime again. A bit sticky and quite warm. Today was going to be a test to see how I would manage with Lewis and his one legged mode of pedaling. Our first stop of the day (other than the race to the Lees where only Donna and Lewis got to rest) came as we pedaled through the city of Christansburg. This was a monumental event for us as we were able to switch over to our very last booklet of maps. We began this adventure with 13 map booklets and each once has 15 panels that show the route necessary to get to the next panel. A booklet has typically taken us just about a week to complete. This means that within about a week we may be finishing up this ride! So we stopped at a small park and ate half of the sandwiches and drank some gatorade and ate some chips and some grapes and a couple of bananas and some granole bars. See, who needs to eat a half dozen muffins for breakfast! At this point Donna and Lewis had 15 miles in while I was already past 23.
The rest of the day was spent pedaling up and down the hills of Virginia. We stopped one more time in the town of Catawba which was another 30 miles down the road. Some icecream and bevarages were enjoyed here. That left about 20 miles or so to get to the town of Troutville. We pedaled through Daleville just before hitting Troutville. I don’t know why I even mentioned Daleville but there it is. We pulled into Troutville around 6:00 and accidently found the city park which we had previously decided to bypass in order to spend the night in a motel just outside of town. My intention was to look at the map before we pedaled on but it was not to be this day.
As I was pouring over the map, a boisterous voice was calling to us from inside the park. “Come on in. This is the place you want to be!” She wouldn’t give up. As I had promised a motel instead of more city park camping, I let Donna decide if we should actually enter the park. “Sure, why not?” We followed the boisterous one (Carlene) into the park as she gave us all the pertinant information. We should camp under the pavillion on the far side of the park and the bathrooms were open all night and we could shower at the volunteer fire station. The information on the showers won Donna over. We joined another cyclist who had previously been indoctrinated by Cecil, the park manager. Within a few minutes we had our tent set up and that’s when Carlene rejoined us. She was insistent that she would be able to drive us anywhere we wanted to go. The perfect place for us to eat was at a buffet just down the road. Donna and I were hesitant as we were prepared to just visit the grocery store next door and find provisions that would see us through the night. But Carlene was nothing if not persistent. So we decided to take her up on her offer and jumped into her car.
Both Donna and I realized the foolishness of our act within seconds of departing. Carlene is what you might consider a casual driver. She drives casually while talking and the car was all over the road. I was picturing the headlines “Cycling Family Perishes in Automobile Accident in Rural Virginia”. Fortunately the restaurant was 4 miles down the road so we were soon seated. We learned more about Carlene than we needed to during that dinner. She is a 39 year old unemployed Electrical Engineer (2 years since she’s worked) and she’s divorced and her ex-husband looks like Mr T. She didn’t actually say that but we saw a picture of him in her car. She is uncomfortable around children but really enjoys talking to people. We finished our dinner and ended up waiting for her to finish hers. This was not what we had in mind. We finally got her to leave but not before she grabbed a soft serve icecream cone for the road. Now we had to worry about her driving us back to the park with only one hand. We made it as you might have surmised. We got back to the park just as night was falling. We regretted our hasty decision to go to the restaurant as no one was really hungry and so much time ended up being wasted and both Donna and I felt we were looking at death. But we stared it down and we were equal to it this day.
We took our turn showering at the Volunteer Fire Station and then retired for the night. I was exhausted from the 62 miles of pedaling that I did this day (54 miles with Lewis in the one legged boy position). This is really taxing me.