We survived the Appalachian Mountains!

Day 10- June 10th

We left Christiansburg and headed to Wytheville taking 54.7 miles. We passed through several small towns and met some interesting people.

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On the way out, a woman stopped me while I was pedaling. She said that the other day a bear crossed her path on the road and she warned me to be careful.

We passed our first maybe East bound couple. There was too many cars to stop and talk.

In a small town called Newbern we met a grandmother with her grandson put for a walk. She told us about the area and her family like how her daughter and son in law just bought a farm.

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Right after we came across an atrocious hill. It was about three miles straight up. At the top of the hill was a sign that said “Pee Wee Hill.” Not likely…

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The top of the hill

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The rest of the ride was pretty smooth until getting into Wytheville. We just wanted a shower after all the hills. In town, we called the center and asked about staying in the park as it says on our map. The center also said we could shower in their facilities (after paying for a day pass), which was close to where we were. So we biked over and enjoyed the center. There is a discount for college students.

After showers, we biked a little to the park. It was nice. There were restrooms available and it was pretty quiet. There’s also electric outlets.

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There’s not many stores nearby, but we managed to find some cold juice.

Day 11- June 11th

From Wytheville, we went to Damascus, about 58.27 miles. Our longest day and one of the hardest. We covered the last remaining large and high mountains of the Appalachians, though there are still some mountains and hills left.

Some mountains were two to three miles ascent at one time with a very high grade. Coming down, it was such a long descent that we felt we weren’t working enough because we were not pedaling at all. In fact, our Garmin biking device said we descended more than we ascended! We stopped in a small town called Konnarock for a cold drink and talked to some locals. At this point in the route, a lot if not all of the locals know what you are doing. Where you going and where you biked from. So, at this stop we talked to several people about our trip.

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Alongside this portion of the trail, there is a local bike trail called the Creeper Trail. It used to be train tracks, when the train would creep along. It is so popular that there is shuttles that go back and forth. Usually people go to Damascus and go up via shuttle because it’s easier (all down hill).

The Appalachian Trail (AT), the Transamerica Trail, and the Creeper Trail all run through Damascus so they call themselves the “the Trail Town.”

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Seeing a sign that said how far we have come and how far we have left. Due to all the trails, there are several hostels and outfitter shops in town. We stayed at a church’s hostel, a house behind the church- “The Place.” Only AT hikers and Transam bikers allowed and by donations. They offer showers and towels. There is a kitchen. There are bunks, but no beds so you need to use your own mats and stuff.

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River off the Creeper Trail

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We met some interesting people in the hostel such as a couple from Kentucky, an older man called Red, and another man who already lost 70 pounds and is looking to lose more (go him!!). All were doing the AT.

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The couple was super nice by offering us a place to stay in Kentucky and making us breakfast.

There is a nice restaurant around the corner called In The Country.

Day 12- June 12th

We left Damascus and headed to Council, about 50.35 miles. We ran into a friendly fellow…

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She was super friendly and it was heart breaking as we pedaled away and she chased after us crying.

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More cats in the bushes

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Passing Hayters Gap, we came across a really bad hill. 3.5 miles straight up hill. We were not happy people at the top. But soon we got to Council, after another huge hill- 2.5 miles. It was another city park.

The lady on the phone said we can use the pool’s showers, which we did. We realize that showers are very important.

It was Sunday so it was very busy, but the people were friendly. The pool entrance was 2 dollars.

We caught up with our New Zealand couple since they didn’t have a rest day and met a man going East. He has been going across the country by bike over four years since he could only do segments over the summers. This proves anyone can do it for any length!

We slept under this shelter, restrooms in the back, with electric outlets. A woman drove up to inform us that a mama bear and two cubs were seen around the area. We didn’t see them.

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Day 13- June 13th

More hills was the sum of this day. We went from Council, VA to Lookout, KENTUCKY! We crossed into Kentucky!

Though, technically, we are still in the Appalachian mountains, the major mountains are passed. The flats are near!

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To get to the border we passed through Breaks Interstate Park (after three big hills in a row). Our map asked us to stop in the visitor center and sign a book like in Yorktown. We also received a pin that shows the Transamerica route through Virginia! 570 miles from Yorktown to Breaks. That’s with the route, we did some side riding so our total mileage at this point was about 600.

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We made it to Kentucky!

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The sign entering Kentucky says “the Grand Canyon of Kentucky.” It was beautiful and very different from Virginia with its rock sides versus trees.

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We stopped in Elkhorn City for lunch and to get some groceries. At the store, we met a lady who helped us settle our accommodations for the night. The people here are so nice!

Along the way we have seen several dead black snakes. As we were pedaling, I saw a green one and figured it was ok. As I passed it, it lunged at me causing me to pull my feet offf the pedals. Luckily I was going down hill so I kept speeding away. It lunged at Dad too.

Right before Lookout, there was a hill, not as tall/long as before, but still a hike especially after the long day we already had- it was rough. Coming down, there was two gentlemen coming up. They weren’t doing the transam, but some other bike touring trip. It’s amazing how many miles people can do- 100 to 150! They were doing just that.

We stayed at a church’s activity center with showers, beds, and a kitchen. They were so nice! They even offered any food in the pantry.

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Looking forward to seeing the rest of Kentucky!

Update: Dad has not had any flat tires since leaving Christiansburg. The rim tape did the trick!

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