Monday, May 16, 2011

Back to Bicycling: Cookie Lady, Blue Ridge Parkway.

I started the morning by making some tacos to go and sending home some books and disused items from my luggage. I said my goodbyes to Will, and I sincerely hope the next chapter in his life after graduation is fulfilling and rewarding. He deserves it.

I was happy to get back on the road, and after three nights of rest in Charlottesville, I didn't feel much pain in the ankle department. I'm finally following my guidebook, Bicycling Coast to Coast, and the directions were easy to follow. I'm finally riding on the official TransAm bicycling route, and I'm happy with the easier directions and a selection of roads which I can trust with confidence.

I cut two pages out of the book with the knife on the Leatherman that Tim gave me, and I clipped the pages to my half-aero-bar unicorn-command-center.

In the middle of a beast of a long steep climb is the tiny town of Afton. Just up the hill is the home of June Curry, the famous Cookie Lady, who has been providing cyclists with refreshments and housing since 1976. I knocked on the door, and she came out to chat and give me a key to the bicycle house, which aside from lodging is a sort of museum. There are hundreds (thousands?) of cards from well-wishers. There are heaps of parephenalia from touring cyclists from the past 35 years. What a sight.

June is getting frail. My guidebook is 15 years out of date, and the photo of June in the book is of an already elderly woman. She suffered a stroke in 2005, but still manages to get around slowly using a cane. Her hearing is on the way out, and I was self conciously aware that I was talking way too fast and not making enough sense. If you're riding by, it's worth a visit. I filled my waterbottles with the hose.

Next was the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a famous scenic road, and the long climbs beat the hell out of me. The scenery was nice, but when the sky opened up I stopped having so much fun. I was soaked from all directions with sweat and rain as I slugged it out over the long inclines through the mountains. I sighed and muttered, looking forward to the day when I'm stronger and my muscles can catch up to my efforts. These mountains are really working me over.

As I said, my guidebook is 15 years out of date, and the campground at the end of the day no longer exists. I stopped for directions at Gertie's General Store, where I was invited to camp out back. I took them up on the offer, and I was pleased to have a break in the rain to set up my tent - staked out with rain fly and everything. The sky has been dumping rain and throwing down thunderstorms for days, and the rain fly proved necessary.

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