Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 18 - June 21, 2013 - Rosedale, VA to Breaks Interstate Park, VA

Miles - 33.4
Total miles - 583.4

We woke up early at the church and started to get ready for the day. It didn't take us very long to eat and get on the road. Before we left the church, we said a quick goodbye to the folks there, who were having a community yard sale. An older gentleman told us that we had a rough day ahead of us, even saying that today's climb up Big A Mountain would be more difficult than yesterday's adventure through Hayter's Gap. While we appreciated the heads up, it didn't take long for me to hear his words over and over in my head, repeating like some kind of nightmare. I didn't think we could survive another day like what we experienced in Hayter's Gap. 
We make our way out of Rosedale and turn onto a road taking us to Honaker. Again, I'm not sure what Adventure Cycling was thinking when they decided to route cyclists along this road. It was extremely dangerous, with no shoulder and heavy traffic, including semi trucks and large dump trucks that could care less about running you over. We haven't had many negative experiences with motorists in Virginia, but this day was awful. Oh yeah, and as a bonus, there was a ton of construction going on along the road. We reached a gas station down the road in Honaker and took a long break...I (Mel) was pretty stressed out about continuing on. After a while, we knew we had to continue. We started to climb the beginning of Big A Mountain, when my amazing wife had the best idea ever. She had spotted a heating and cooling business on the opposite side of the road, with a couple of empty pickup trucks in the parking lot. She went inside and asked if someone would be willing to drive us up to the top of the mountain, which isn't far by vehicle, but a major undertaking by bicycle. Thankfully, a kind guy helped load our bikes in his work truck and drove us up to the top. I don't think we ever caught his name, but we will be eternally grateful to this stranger that helped us more than he will ever know. We even tried to give him some money for his time and he refused to take it. 

We started the descent down the mountain, stopping every once in a while to cool our rims and brakes, and started to make our way to Breaks. Of course, 3 more giant hills awaited us today on the way to Breaks. We stopped for some snacks at a gas station and spoke to a couple ladies about our trip. They were really nice and funny and joked with us about how we must be crazy or dedicated to take on this adventure. I think they are right...we are probably a little of both. 

Back on the road, we make it to Haysi, the small town right before Breaks. Erica stopped in to a little pizza restaurant to ask for some directions and met our second Trail Angel of the day. Denny was an older guy who lives in Breaks and just comes down to Haysi to talk to folks...everyone knows him. Denny started talking to Erica about our trip and offered to drive us to Breaks Interstate Park and to show us the area. He has lived in the area for a while and is familiar with all the construction projects and sights. He was a bit of a quirky guy, but it was obvious he was just a nice guy who loves the place he calls home. He showed us the dam, a major bridge project for the coal industry, and took us to the park, even driving around to help us find a good place to camp. We are so thankful we met Denny and that he was so kind to us. 
As we pulled into the park, we noticed two guys coming in from the west on bikes hauling trailers. They camped not too far from us and found out that they are wrapping up their TransAm journey, but they have split it up over four years. They have also been riding in an effort to stop the de-finning of sharks. 
Also, when we got to the visitors center at the park, they gave us a form to fill out, stating that we had rode our bikes across the state and gave us a little lapel pin as a small trophy. Virginia is really proud of being a part of the TransAm, and I know we both really did feel a sense of accomplishment for making across Virginia, with all the obstacles and weather the state threw our way. 

We got to our campsite and it didn't take us very long to get setup and get to bed after a very interesting day. It was our last day in Virginia and though we were happy to move on the next day, we also were thankful for all the lessons Virginia taught us and for all the kind people we met there. 

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