We slept pretty well last night - horray!! When we got up this morning though, it was chilly. I think it was only in the mid-30's! Since there were no bathrooms in the park, we decided to just pack up, put sweats on over our pj's, ride to Subway, and eat and change clothes there.
At Subway, we split a footlong sub and the rest of our pizza. I was still so full from last night's pizza dinner that I couldn't even finish my 6" sub (this is notable, because I've been eating FOOTLONG subs with no problem lately)! I ended up eating only 3" and giving the other 3" to Nathan. He ate all of his pizza, his 6" sub, and 3 inches of my sub...and he said he could eat more! Oh, and don't forget, he ate most of a large pizza, and a cheeseburger for dinner last night, just 12 hours ago!! Ridiculous is what that is.
After breakfast, we changed clothes, put on our morning lather of sunscreen, and headed out for Christiansburg, VA, our destination for the day.
I am happy to say that we didn't have any big hills today! To replace them though, were enough little hills to make up at LEAST one mountain, for sure!
Even though these Eastern American hills are starting to bug me (mostly because they are soooo steep), whenever you ride hills, you usually always get some pretty views, and we got a bunch of great views today! Here's a great landscape view:
I'm not sure if I've said this already or not, but Virginia is really reminding me of Ireland. I've never been, but I've seen pictures, and I really think it looks similar! For example, in Virginia there are lots of mountains and lots of sheep all over the sides of them (just like Ireland). It's also REALLY green here (just like in Ireland). In fact, it's SO green and lush here, that in several places we've ridden, it actually smells like plant decay (the kind you might smell in a rain forest or other tropical place) - and don't forget, it's NOVEMBER, not spring-time, NO-VEM-BER. Also, and this is my last reason, there're all these big, random rocks jutting up out of the grass (just like in Ireland!). They're not boulders; they're more like something you might find in an area that used to be underwater, and they looked kind-of like this random picture I found on the internet.
See, doesn't that look like it could be Ireland?! Well, it also could be Virginia. It's actually a picture from some guy's blog about going hunting with his son...but REGARDLESS, it's what the big, random rocks jutting up from the grass looked in in Virginia (and Ireland!).
We were enjoying the views and tolerating the hills well enough, but we were getting close to the tipping point on our hill-o-meter and had almost had enough. There was hardly ever a flat stretch, and the hills kept coming, and coming, and coming. We were both pretty tired and getting crabby when we turned onto a road called "666". We found the name ENTIRELY appropriate!
After seeing Road 666 and feeling like our anger was slightly legitimized (the road-naming person knew this road was tough!), we were in a better mood. So much so that we began joking around with each other about the person that created this section of the TransAmerica Trail. We decided he must've been having a really bad day. Or maybe he was mad at someone and decided to take it out on unsuspecting, TransAmerica bikers. Or maybe he was about to quit his job, and this was his last hurrah.
We decided to capitalize on our good mood and the pretty scenery by making a video and thanking another one of our awesome sponsors: Don Carlin. Don Carlin works at a really great bike store in Clarksville, TN called The Bicycle Center. Thanks for your support Don! It was great to meet you!
Today's route felt like boot camp. It was tough to get to the top of the hills because they were so steep (many over 6% grade). We pushed hard and sweat a lot as we climbed with our 65+ lb bikes. The hills weren't very tall compared to the mountains we've been in (maybe only a gain of 30-70 vertical feet), but it was still tough to ride them. When we finally did would the top, we wouldn't get much of a downhill to rest our muscles or calm our heart rates, and in only a few seconds we'd be back at the bottom and staring up towards the top of our next hill. It was like we were on the ultra-fat-burning-cardio-extreme workout program on a bike at the gym or something.....ALL DAY.
We must've done at least 100 of these hills today. Our route was so hilly, so predictably hilly even, that it was almost certain whenever our road ended or changed course, we'd turn onto a new road that was going UP-hill. Especially towards the end of the day, EVERY time our route changed roads, we went uphill! We somehow continued to have a kinda-sorta joking attitude about it (even if it was only masking frustration), until we remembered what the Adventure Cycling Association is all about.
The FIRST SENTENCE of the 'About Us' section on their web page reads thusly, and I quote, "Adventure Cycling Association’s nonprofit mission is to inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle for fitness, fun, and self-discovery."
As soon as we remembered that, the magical tipping point on our hill-o-meter was reached. It was over, our attitudes were shot, we were done.
I walked. NATHAN even walked!
We didn't understand why the route was so hard today. Why did the Adventure Cycling Association choose SUCH difficult roads?! It seemed like nearly everywhere we looked, there were alternate road choices that were 1) safe for cyclists and didn't have too much traffic, and 2) quite a bit less hilly! If the Adventure Cycling Association exists to get MORE people MORE interested in cycling MORE often, then why, why, WWHHYY did they choose these roads? I understand tough roads and working hard (we've done that), but the roads today seemed really unnecessary difficult. Ah!!
We were both frustrated, but I think I was more frustrated. I think I was almost angry, actually. I think I was more emotional/angry about it because I was more tired (because I'm not as strong as Nathan). Whatever the reason though, I really was getting angry about it...and that was kind-of scary.
Nathan, sensing that my frustration was starting to run pretty deep, decided it was time to take a break. We pulled into a gas station, got a QUART of chocolate milk and a KING-SIZE Reese's Fast Break candy bar (our two, new, favorite gas station snacks). I sat there and let the excessive amount of sugar I was consuming melt my frustration away. And I must say it did a pretty good job! We're really loving chocolate milk lately. We only started drinking it about a week ago, but now we're hooked!
After our break, Nathan had more good news for me: we were only 7 miles from Christiansburg, our final destination! My first thought was "Yay!". My second thought was, "I bet this quirky route-planning guy can squeeze MILLIONS of hills into the next 7 miles...ggrrrrr".
The hills DID continue, but they weren't as bad (either that or the chocolate milk and king-size candy bar put my brain into a happy sugar coma so I couldn't tell how hard it was). We finally made it to Christiansburg, and after stopping for groceries and a phone call to get directions to Michael and Kerry's house (up a hill...of course!), we arrived at our final destination of the day, leaned our bikes up against the side of their house, LEFT THEM THERE, and went inside. Ahhhh :-)
We found them through WarmShowers.org, and they are superb! We got a shower, ate dinner, washed laundry, played with their dogs and cat, and spent some time relaxing and getting to know them. To go with our dinner, they made us a bunch of broccoli, and I LOVE broccoli, so that was great.
Michael left early in the evening to go to a dart tournament. His team is in the finals, and tonight decides the dart championship! He said he'll be out pretty late, so we won't find out how his team does until tomorrow morning. Then Kerry left for a bit too to go to an exercise class. No problem though, we sat on their comfy couch, did bike stuff, and drank hot chocolate. Ahhh, what a life. :-)
I worked on the blog while Nathan fixed one of my panniers. Turns out one of the corners on my back, right pannier has curled in a bit, and now, every once in a while (like when I go over a bump), it rubs against my spokes! It's super-bad to have anything rubbing your spokes ever! Nathan got it all fixed though. Thanks, hubby!
When Kerry got home, she shared some of their homemade pumpkin pie with us. Ooohhhh, super yummy! Funny story about the pumpkin pie: They made it from their Halloween pumpkin, and they had enough to double the recipe, so they did. Instead of making two pies though, they wound up with enough filling for FIVE, full-sized pumpkin pies! Turns out a single recipe apparently makes two or three pumpkin pies. Haha.
This was a big moment for Nathan, because it's been a long time since he's had pumpkin pie. It's been a long time because he doesn't like pumpkin pie very much. But I think he DOES like it, and he just doesn't know it. You see, he really loves pumpkin coffee, pumpkin scones, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pancakes, and generally anything else pumpkin flavored. I think he'll love it. Here's an action shot I took of Nathan before he ate his first piece! As you can see, he's not quite sure about it yet. :-)
After his first bite of homemade goodness, I asked what he thought.....aanndd.....he liked it!! I knew it! Then, Kerry offered us a second piece. Nathan was was content with just one, but I had a second piece (duh!). After my second piece, we decided to call it a night.
We had a good evening tonight, and I can't wait to find out about the outcome of Michael's dart tournament tomorrow! Good luck, Michael!