Hallelujah

Written on Friday, 6/24/11

On a bench swing outside the Ellk Garden United Methodist Church.

I hadn’t meant for today to be a rest day, but it turned into one…

Jed, my gracious host in Blacksburg. He's spending the summer working with Floyd County to clean up their watershed, since they're the water source for many of the surrounding counties. Smart.

Leaving Jed in Blacksburg, I moved along to Wytheville, VA. Two things of interest: I hit a new top speed of 42 mph leaving the mountains surrounding Blacksburg, and I met Jim, a TransAm cyclist near the end of his Oregon to Virginia trip. After mentioning the mountains I had just conquered, he scoffed.

“Mountains? Those 2000’ers are hills, my friend. In the Rockies, there would be days I would spend the whole morning climbing, non-stop.”

Well, I’m glad I’m going east to west. Hopefully I’ll have semi-tree trunks by the time I hit Colorado.

………

The next day, I had a decision to make – I was ahead of schedule in Wytheville, so do I go a mere 20 miles to my planned stop in Atkins, VA, or push on another 50 miles to a cyclist-friendly church in Elk Garden? My lunch at Mi Puerto Mexican restaurant decided for me; fueled with beans, rice, tacos, and (bottomless!) chips and salsa, I pushed on to Elk Garden. The only thing standing in my path…the Appalachians.

Ready to conquer.

As you know, I’ve been following a roundabout route to Ohio to avoid the mountainous West Virginia. That, and the TransAm bike route follows a similar path. I eventually had to cross them mountains somewhere, though, and doing it around Glade Spring, VA seemed to be the most docile. So I took off, and soon was huffing it up steep switchbacks. At this point, my legs are strong enough that if Moose is in a low enough gear, I can keep spinning the pedals and slowwwly (5 mph-ish) make it up the mountain without killing myself. So I did that for the four mile incline…

And then the downhill! The best part of mountains (besides the view). Recess after class. Dessert after broccoli. This is what bicyclists (particularly mountain bicyclists) live for. However, I forgot there would be switchbacks going down as well…

By the time I saw the first sharp turn, I knew I was going too fast. I hit the brakes, swerved to the far right, hit a patch of gravel, and my tires lost traction. Moose slid sideways into a ditch, and I tumbled after. When I came to a stop, I got up, retrieved my belongings scattered across the road, and checked myself. Nothing seemed broken, my right palm was scraped and my wrist hurt, but other than a few nicks and scrapes, I was fine. My bike, miraculously, was nearly untouched. I bandaged my hand and, with brakes heavily applied, made it the rest of the way down the mountain.

Glad they're behind me.

As I continued across rolling pastures, I noticed my right wrist had swollen substantially and it was painful to shift gears. So it was a sight for sore eyes after 72 miles when I saw the church on my right. And it nearly brought tears to my eyes when I saw this sign:

Sure enough, to my disbelief, the door was unlocked. Food in the pantry. Tea in the fridge. Ice in the freezer. This was exactly what I needed. I used the church’s hose and my camping shower to get the gravel out of my palm and cleaned myself off.

A little scraped, a little chubby

Then, I made an enormous pasta dinner, iced my wrist (which I diagnosed as a minor sprain), and promptly fell asleep on the carpeted floor of the church. An intense day ended tranquilly thanks to the hospitality of Elk Garden United Methodist Church.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Don’t be modest, you had to crash into a runaway truck ramp to stop didn’t you, you big sexy tank.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sara on June 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    1. Sweetest church eVER!!
    2. So, do you have a spedometer on your bike? I say, not cool, unless it teaches you to slow down now!!!! Enjoy…relax…I should send you picture of after I fell off of my bike…and that wasn’t even from going fast (the first and only time I tried to do a trick! lol)
    3. I prefer the term ‘thunder thighs,’ but tree trunks sounds pretty tough too:)
    Sending love from Canadiana, take care of yourself cuzzy!!
    -Sara

    Reply

    • Posted by bcline909 on July 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      1. agreed!
      2. I do, and it has taught me I should maybe apply the brakes occasionally going downhill. maybe.
      3. thunder thighs are legit too. that was a friend’s nickname, so I didn’t want to steal his *ahem* thunder.

      Reply

  3. Posted by jannyd1028 on June 30, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Keep it up dude. You’re doing so fantastically. YOu look like a real outdoorsman now. I love it. Keep pushing!

    Reply

  4. […] up, I contemplated camping at the park when I saw the Obtuse United Methodist Church. Remembering the kindness I was shown in Elk Garden, I decided to attend the Sunday evening service (I actually rushed over from the park to make it on […]

    Reply

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