The other guy, Jeff, left 20 minutes before me in the morning. I rolled out at about 7am. I packed my provisions, and cruised out. I rode 40 miles on friendly roads before breakfast, and at no point did I feel dead. I was able to swoop into the hills, and mercifully it was manageable. I get some gusto on the downhill, and apply the inertia to the following climb - shift just right and keep spinning, and you'll make it to the top without bogging down - ready to go again. And again, and again, and again...
I made it to the city limits of Christiansburg, and up steepest climb I've seen. Not super long, but almost impossibly steep. I had to ride catawampus, left to right to lessen the grade and not tip backwards. I made it to the top and hooted and cussed. Praise God for Victory! Sweat poured from my chin. Then I fell asleep on a bench for half an hour.
When I came to, I changed some clothes and entered the bar. I sat on the corner stool and built a fort out of laptops, Bud Light, and cheap menu items. I was in business. I spent hours.
I crawled outside feeling sassy, with the sun still bright and abrasive. My guidebook mentioned a nearby camping spot that no longer has tent sites, and maybe never had friendly employees. It also looked like garbage. Fortunately, I had a contingency plan. This morning, Jeff gave me a business card for "Lee's Place" in the next town. The Lee family regularly hosts TransAm cyclists at their home in Radford. This is a well-known place on this trail. I called him, and was invited to come right over.
I put some Hella on my iPod and enjoyed some spirited cranking. I burned off a lot of beer on the fast fifteen miles there, turning the bar tab into superfluous waste as I quickly sobered up.
I was given the royal treatment. Many people have stayed at Lee's Place, but tonight I was the only traveler. I was offered a spare room, and was happy to take it. The man of the house is Thad. His son, Sam, was playing drums when I arrived. I can chat about bicycles, or drums, or even travel trailers to an extent.
Conversation wasn't hard to find. I was treated to Mexican food at a restaurant and told I would not be allowed to pay. We left the restaurant, and stepped into a heavy blowing rain. Once again, I dodged a downpour and went to bed feeling lucky.