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Brian Cray - Budget Travel

Hitchhiking, Train Hopping, & Backpacking

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Windin’ Roads and Flat Tires

Windin’ Roads and Flat Tires


I’ve gone a little over 50 miles today. I rode through the mountains in Mount Rogers National Forest area. The climbs were gradual and fairly easy.  I witnessed the first group of cyclists on the trail, but they were heading eastbound. I finally made it to the top and I felt like speed racer riding down the mountain.  The wind caused my face to tear up due to the speed. This downhill ride was longer than the one I experienced on Vesuvius. I covered roughly 18 miles in a little over an hour, but as I got to the bottom of the hill I hit a piece of pavement and popped my tire. Within seconds it was flat. I pulled over to the side of the road and within minutes a kind gentlemen offered a helping hand, but I already had the necessary equipment so I changed it.


Fixing a flat tire after flying down a huge hill in Damascus, VA.

While I was packing up my gear I bumped into Jeff, a local, who was giving me an overview on the area. He recommended I visit the taco place down the road, the harvest table, and if I had time head over to Clinch Mountain. Apparently there is a nice view six miles up, but you have to hike. It would have been interesting but I didn’t want to leave my bike around. We talked about climbing, hiking and cycling for a little while and then I was off towards Rosedale.  I’m headed to the nearest campground, which is roughly 20 miles away. Somehow I ended up heading down the wrong road. I’m on Route 736, which should lead back onto 80. I’ll figure it out.

Damascus, VA Bicycle Touring

More long driveways full of gravel.

I wound up heading down Route 736 to 737 and taking 744 back to interstate 80. It added a little more mileage to the day, but in doing so I avoided encountering a bear and her cubs. A woman stopped me by flashing her high beams and told me had I been there a little earlier I might be in trouble. I blared my music on my phone just to be safe. The bears were not in sight though. I continued on down interstate 80 until I met up with Robert who gave me some waters for my trip. He thought I wrecked down the end of his driveway, but riding 80 miles wears you out so I just rested there to regain some strength for the next steep 3-mile climb. We made small talk. I found out he was a miner back in the day. He showed me a field full of wild turkeys. There must have been about a dozen or so right next to his lawn. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Evergreen Trees Damascus, VA

Look at all the little evergreen trees in the mountains!

I continued on up the mountain and enjoyed a nice windy downhill stretch until I ended up at Elk Garden Methodist Church. I met up with cyclists from Manassas who were heading towards Yorktown to complete the long trek cross-country. Paul and Nancy were in there 60’s and started a few months back. They are doing on average 65 miles a day…so I need to pick up the pace haha. It’s definitely been a journey to say the least and I’ve barely spent much money. I probably would have spent more at home on gas, beer and other unnecessary items. Instead I’m spending less and having the experience of a lifetime. Where shall I go next?


A selfie near Damascus, VA.

By the way, tonight I get the luxury of sleeping inside and get free food as well.

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