Day 5 - June 13, 2002

Charlottesville to Lexington, VA (Mallard Duck Hostel)

Ride length: 69.6 miles
Total to date: 279.38 miles
Moving time: 7 hr. 30 min.
Maximum speed: 41 mph
Average Speed: 9.3 mph
Total ascent: 5615 ft.
Minimum elevation: 499 ft.
Maximum elevation: 3297 ft.
Ending elevation: 538 ft.
Wind: calm all day; little breeze in the afternoon.

Goodbye Piedmont... Hello Appalachians

Now those are what I call mountains! I had my butt kicked today by the Blue Ridge Parkway. The ride from Charlottesville to Greenwood was roller coaster. Greenwood to Afton was completely insane. The grade was so steep that I had to get off my bike and push it. The slowest I can go on the recumbent without tipping over is 4 mph while upright riders can keep their balance down to about 2 mph. Hopefully I won't have to push so much any more.

Afton is where I met June "The Cookie Lady" Curry at her home. She is an amazing person and a legend to TransAm bicyclists. When the TransAmerica route started in 1976 as the BikeCentennial route, June and her father offered food and water to passing cyclists. Cyclists have been stopping by ever since for a drink of water, friendly hospitality, and a bite to eat. She keeps a "bike house" that contains pictures, postcards, letters and memorabilia from the thousands of cyclists who have passed through there in the last 26 years. There is a fully stocked kitchen and plenty of room to lay a sleeping bag down for the night.

I met an eastbound cyclist named Jeff Jacobs there. He stayed over night and was just getting up when I arrived about 9:30am. Jeff is from Bozeman, Montana and is quite a character. He goes to college in the fall, skis all winter and spring, and is cycling this summer. He has two more semesters to go until he graduates. Jeff is cycling from Michigan to Bar Harbor, Maine following his own route and the TransAmerica route.

The most amazing thing is the amount of stuff he is carrying. He has over 90 pounds of gear plus his bike and BOB trailer - probably about 125 lbs all together. Included in his gear is the largest bike lock I have ever seen (3/4" diameter cable about 5' long), a CD player, speakers, and 30 CDs. He's got a lot of stuff and plenty of extra. My entire rig including the bike, trailer, and gear weighs in at about 90 pounds.

Two other cyclists stopped by while Jeff and I were still there. They are doing an eastbound trip across Virginia to see if they really want to try a TransAmerica ride next summer. They had very nice racing bikes and had little gear with them for their 9 day journey.

Jeff and I talked about our appetites. I thought before I left that I would be a ravenous eater during the trip - much like when I did backpacking and canoeing when I was younger. I've had very little appetite for the past four days and have lost a good amount of weight. Jeff also says he has trouble eating and finds himself forcing food down. I hope that my appetite grows or there won't be much left to me in a week or so.

The climb up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway from Afton was long but not too steep. I stopped at a gas station at the beginning of the parkway and met an Appalachian Trail thru–hiker who was heading north. We traded a few quick trail stores as we filled our water bottles for our afternoon jaunt - 35 miles for me and 10 for him.

Most of the parkway is between 2000 and 3000 feet in elevation and proved to be quite a climb at times. It was very slow going for hours and hours. This certainly was the most difficult day so far as I did three times more climbing than the trip average so far and rode eight miles more than my average has to be. The weather was very nice - mostly cloudy with highs around 80° F. The forecast called for rain but the skies never shed a drop. The pictures below are all from the Blue Ridge Parkway between Afton and Vesuvius. The skies were very hazy so the distant mountains are hard to see.

The route leads off the parkway down into a town called Vesuvius. This four mile descent is terribly steep. It's always smart to descent without braking if possible - instead I had to use my brakes very heavily the whole way down since the road was so steep and winding. By the time I got to the bottom and started along a river valley toward my stop for the night I was thoroughly beat. I don't think I've ever felt so dehydrated, hungry and exhausted before in my life. I certainly need to eat more regularly and keep more water with me from now on.

Another ten miles led me to the Mallard Duck campground. The first thing I did was lean my rig against a picnic table and suck down a huge amount of water from a spigot. I stayed in their cyclist hostel for the night. No one was attending the campground so I just helped myself inside. The owner stopped by a few hours later and I upped my $5 and signed his logbook. I slept 12 hours and still felt completely drained in the morning. Here are pictures from inside the hostel. It has a cook plate, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot as well as the standard bathroom with shower.

Food: 2 Oatmeal Raisin cookies (280 Cal), 2 packets of oatmeal (294 Cal), peanut butter & jelly sandwich (340 Cal.), 1/4 bag of trail mix (530 Cal), 1 PowerBar (240 Cal.), 6 quarts water.

Total Energy: 1684 Cal. (I still need to eat more)

Food cost: $10 donation to the Cookie Lady

Hostel cost: $5

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