It is my off day. I am not riding a bicycle today and it feels amazing. Over the previous eight days I rode three hundred miles and climbed over twenty thousand feet. The last two days have been the most mentally challenging days yet. They weren’t the hardest days. Not the longest. Not the most climbing. Not the hottest. Just the most challenging.
We stayed two nights ago at a beautiful winery called Spinning Jenny’s. Jenny and Curtis let us in, made us dinner, and let us try some of their wine made on the very farm we were staying at. We had a great time talking about other cyclists they have hosted and Curtis won the over/under on what time we’d leave in the morning. (We left later than planned) If you are wine tasting in Virginia, absolutely make this a stop.
Now, Kristen hurt her wrist, and a few miles down the road couldn’t handle the pain any more. We spent a few hours sitting outside of a McDonald’s while she tried to figure out her plan. She luckily has a good friend in Kentucky who agreed to pick her up so she could see a doctor. So, she got a room at a hotel and I moved on.
This is where I learned a huge lesson. It was late and I was trying to get to the camp ground I’d be staying at and didn’t eat. Around five miles from my camp I hit a wall. Luckily for me, the last five miles was a climb. Struggle would have been an understatement if I used it to describe the rest of my ride.
I’m going to talk for a minute about giving up. I’ve done it a lot. Things have been too hard. Too much work. Too time consuming. Too much for me to handle. I thought that, anyhow. Now, I don’t have a choice. I had to keep pushing. What is the alternative? Lay in the ditch and wait for someone to give me a ride? I’m not close enough to anyone for help and I have to get to a place to sleep. So I had to push. I had to make it. I wanted to stop so badly. There was nothing left in my legs. I looked up to the crest of the road knowing there was another climb after that. (Downside to having a route on my GPS, I see when big climbs are coming.) And when I get there I have to set up my camp and make food.
I made it though. I got to the top. I set up camp. I made dinner. I took a shower. Then I crashed.
The next day was worse. I had been riding for seven days and although I did eat correctly, my legs just needed to stop. I rode, though. I made it. When I rolled in to Damascus I was dying. I was ready to sleep.
First thing’s first though. Somewhere along the way, two wedge pieces from my Surly front rack rattled off so it was barely hanging on. When I showed up to the bike shop, the front rack was being held up by two extra straps I had for emergency situations. Being a pretty odd part, the shop didn’t have them. So we improvised and used a couple metric bolts and some LocTite. It’s something I’m going to have to keep an eye on.
After that I got a room at a hostel, had a shower, had a beer, and went to bed. Damascus is a big hub for Appalachian Trail hikers, so I have gotten to talk to a few people who are also on huge adventures. I’ll have to say, I like that I get to shower most days.
Tomorrow I roll again. Today I am thankful to not be riding. I think it is gong to be tough to leave the comfort I have here and ride tomorrow, but like I mentioned earlier, I don’t have a choice. I am in the middle of nowhere and need to keep moving. So I will.
Thanks again for reading!
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