A lot has happened in the past 10 days! I’m writing this post to give you a little background on what has been happening in my life recently. First off, this trip only started feeling like reality the day before I left. Before then, it still seemed distant and impossible, a pipe dream that would never come to fruition. But sure enough, there I was the day before leaving, packing what I needed into my panniers and putting the rest of my belongings into my car for storage. Almost everything that I own right now can fit in the backseat and trunk of my VW Jetta, minus some framed pictures and my skis. I’m proud of that.
On the 9th, reality sank in as I put the last few items into my car, drove it to my friend Priya’s apartment parking lot (that doesn’t tow), locked it, and walked away. There was no turning back. I walked back up Main Street and arrived at the apartment I have been living at for the past month, Thanks Juhi :D, and looked down at everything that I was going to have for the whole trip. I loaded up my bike with great anticipation, giddy and nervous about the whole experience. I almost felt like I was walking to the edge of some theoretical cliff and jumping off into the unknown.
Before leaving Blacksburg, I met up with some long-time friends at Kroger to get groceries. By the time I got out of town it was 6PM and I headed to my first destination, Highland Farm, for a weekend full of fun and music at Reunion festival. My friend Peter biked the last 6 or 7 miles on the Huckleberry Trail with me. A lot of my friends from Blacksburg were there at the festival and I camped out on the farm for three nights, loving every minute of it. It was a strange time though, I still felt like I was on the edge of the cliff, ready to jump off, and that was difficult for me to be wholly present and carefree at the festival. I really wasn’t carefree, and was legit anxious but tried not to show it. However, with each passing day and explanation of what I was about to do, I became more comfortable with being on the edge of this “cliff” and eased into the idea of cutting loose and going for it. So on Monday 9/12, that’s what I did, I got on my bike and just started following the adventure cycling map I had bought with no intent on where I was going to end up that night. Then at about 5:30 PM, I rode past a beautiful campground called Carter’s Wayside in Max Meadows VA, and set up camp, feeling like a champion. Since then I’ve just been riding and eating and sleeping and thinking.
9/9 — 9/12: Blacksburg–Highland VA (25 miles). Highlight = Reunion Festival for the weekend. Downside = Riding in the dark, saying goodbye to friends.
9/12: Highland Rd. — Carter’s Wayside VA (~40 miles). Highlight = Super nice campground with all the amenities. Downside = I was confused about my riding partner in the morning, he never was able to come and still hasn’t joined up with me.
9/13: Carter’s Wayside — Damascus VA (72 miles). Highlight = Riding through the Mount Roger’s area was super beautiful, stopping at Williamson Orchard and eating a bunch of fruit, the 5 mile segment of the Creeper trail was incredible, hospitality of Crazy Larry at his hostel in Damascus (he fed me dinner when I walked in the door and did my laundry for free). Downside= Really bad allergies made me decide to start taking allergy medicine again, getting sunburnt, riding on Route 11 was pretty scary.
9/14: Damascus — Council VA (50 miles). Highlight = Eating at a local restaurant in Honaker, VA (grilled cheese and fried green tomatoes) and talking with a few locals, stopping in Hayter’s Gap library to upload pictures and write a poem, Council’s park was really nice and I got to do a workout on the playground. Downside = Getting over Rt. 80 on a mountain was sketchy, Hwy 19 had no shoulder for a few sections so I had to walk a bit.
9/15: Council VA — Hindman KY (95 miles). Highlight = Setting a PR for distance on my tour (furthest in a day is still 102), definitely setting a PR for elevation change in a day, not chafing doing that many miles is a good sign, out-running a couple of dogs (one bit my pannier and so I threw my chocolate peanut butter bar at him, he still put on a good chase but I’m sure got sick later lol), seeing Eastern KY for the first time, eating a lot at night, staying with Randy Wilson in Hindman (that guy is super nice). Downside = Seeing Eastern KY for the first time, getting chased by dogs, riding a shit ton of miles, sweating for 10 hours.
9/16: Hindman — Buckhorn KY (50 miles). Highlight = Meeting fellow cyclists (one guy named Terry had done the trail the first year it opened in 1976), taking a dip in the river and snagging a free shower in the campground at Buckhorn. Downside = Sleeping in the woods across from the campground (no way I was going to pay $15 just to sleep in the campground after I had already stole a shower), being really sore all day after yesterday.
9/17: Buckhorn — Booneville (20 miles). Highlight = Taking a rest day, having a pavilion all to myself in Booneville I drank some beer and ate snacks all day, that’s where I wrote the posts about the dirtbag cooler and potato mac n’ cheese from my phone. Downside: Getting eaten up by mosquitos at night (I think I need a bug net), the library was closed, the outhouse at Booneville was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.
9/18: Booneville — Berea KY (50 miles). Highlight = Eating at Dairy Queen to get out of the rain, getting to walk around the college of Berea campus, working out in their gym, getting a really awesome Couchsurfing host- who let me use his computer to write this, fed me pizza, let me do laundry, we watched The Usual Suspects, he made muffins in the morning. Wow Couchsurfing is great so far. Downside = Riding in the rain, but I still kind of liked it and now I know everything is waterproof.
9/19 (today): I plan to ride from here in Berea to a lake campground outside of Harrodsburg about 40 miles away. It’s 12PM now so I better get started!
Update: the lake campground was closed for an unknown reason so I’ll be sleeping in a park in Harrodsburg.
Thanks for reading,