Windin’ Roads and Flat Tires

Damascus

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

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.

Damascus, VA Bicycle Touring
More long driveways full of gravel.

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.

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?

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

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