Biking Bis

Bicycle touring and more...
  1. PIPPA PASSES, KY. -- Last night's fear and loathing about spending the foreseeable future dodging coal trucks turned out to be a waste of time.

    Coal is king in these parts, but even the king gives a holiday to his subjects over the Memorial Day weekend. No coal trucks confronted us today. We could see them parked in gravel parking lots behind chainlink fences, their trailer beds tilted up so they wouldn't collect rainwater. It was as if they were saluting our passage.

    Although the coal trucks were absent, the grinding terrain still had to be dealt with. As we broke camp in the morning, an old camper who knew the area said our route would be "rough as a cob." We didn't know how rough a cob was, but we soon found out....

  2. BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK, Va. -- There's nothing like a big ol' country-style breakfast to start the day -- if you plan to go right back to bed.

    Bruce and I weren't napping, however. Rev. Chuck and his wife served us an extra helping of biscuits 'n' gravy, along with sausage, bacon and eggs this morning. He said we'd need that extra larder to get over "Big A" Mountain up the road. ...

  3. ELK GARDEN, VA. -- "Bikers. Take a Break. Good Cool Water. Welcome."

    After climbing in and out Appalachian hollers all day and seeing a sign like that, we didn't need to be told twice to stop for a while. That's where we met the Rev, another unforgettable person on our TransAmerica Tour....

  4. GRINDSTONE CAMPGROUND, VA. -- We hit it all today -- headwinds, rain, steep hills, illness and an opposite direction bicycle tourist (he had a nice tailwind) who told us how great things were. That last was the hardest to take.

    We broke camp at the Elizabeth Brown Memorial Park, packed our damp gear, and headed to the laundromat in town. I tried to fix my front derailleur while my shoes dried, broke the nut, cursed and threw things, then walked around town until I found an auto parts store where a guy replaced it for free.

    Back on rolling Route 11 again, we came across a guy who was wrapping up his cross-country trip from San Francisco...

  5. Today, our stupidity almost got the best of us.

    After a late start, I had problems with my front derailleur and tried to fix it as a gas station. It was 10 a.m. before we got underway. We stopped for a bite at Newbern, where several log cabins appeared to be under restoration

    We continued on along a road that had a beautiful sweeping vistas of wide green valleys backed by blue tinted mountain ridges (bottom photo).

    This led us to the Draper Country Store, "18 and 90" it said above the door. Inside, a guy cut some longhorn cheese from a huge block he kept under glass. The old store had a pool table, a cast iron stove, some well-worn chairs, and lots of unusual items for sale...