Mountains are for strong people. When I walk into a Wal-Mart, I'm superhero-fit. It gives confidence, but that's not the measure. Nay - for the mountains you need actual legs. I've been fighting along with smelly penguin carcasses, and the offended pavement has been screaming back. You will know failure when you drop to the granny gear on an imperceptible climb.
But I got there! I made it to the town park in Troutville, Virginia. My 1996-published guidebook told me that you can camp here. The sign on the gate literally said "No Bicycles" on the list of "No's" - to say nothing of the quasi-homeless jerkoffs who are riding them.
As I read the sign looking for a loophole, a lady pulling a trash cart beamed at me - "Hello!" Of course this brings a big smile to my face. When a hello is beamed like this, the world knows no malice. "Are you going to spend the night?" Jesus. I'm on Mars. "Well I thought I might - is that ok?" It's funny how I start to talk like a local wherever I am. A couple times I've said something in such a phony drawl I wanted to kick myself in the dick.
Doesn't matter! I was given royal treatment. I was shown where to set up my gear, and I even signed a guestbook. A guestbook for a town park. I was told that hot showers were available at the fire station across the street - and within 20 minutes, I had availed myself of that strange and awkward service.
I went down the block to buy some canned tomatoes to cook some of the weighty food out of my luggage. No need, apparently. There was a surprise party for a cancer survivor in the pavillion next to my tent. A kind young boy brought me a plate of food and a soda. The mother of the man who went through chemo brought me a dessert. Again, I'm blessed.
A 28-year-old touring cyclist rolled in a few minutes later. God even provided someone to talk to.