Day #10) June 22, 2011. Hungary Mother State Park, Va – Gate City, Va - 80 miles in 5:34 hrs.
Rained a lot late last night at our campground – right into the morning. Got up and worked for a bit at 6am during some drizzling, and then when finished I helped to put gear away amidst intermittent rain bursts. It was pretty frustrating to get things close to ready to leave and ride, and then get nailed with another 20 min rain burst put us right back in the van waiting it out. So we were in and out of the van getting ready, not getting read, getting ready, not getting ready. Finally, by 8:30 I said “---- it” and put my gear on to ride in the rain. I’ll do a steady rain, even a pretty gnarly rain in warm weather, but not thunder and lightening on a bike. Well, steady rain it was.
Judy started out with me, like a total trooper, in the rain. Temp was about 60-something, so it wasn’t warm by any means, but it was doable. Climbed out the Hungary Mother park and then descended into Marion. At that point we were pretty soaked, especially the shoes and socks from the road spray off of the wheels. Next was a stint on Rt 11 south trending towards Abingdon, Va. Eleven was not my idea of a good road to ride a bike because it parallels I-81, but absolutely no roads were available to get us back on the back roads trending to the west – without re-climbing Walker Mt. Had to bite the bullet to get back into the backcountry. So we needed to do about 15-20 miles on 11.
By the time we’d gotten in about 3-4 miles on 11 the rain had dissipated and we were able to air dry off for a bit. That’s when my bike’s bottom bracket started making these clunking noises. My guess is that the rain and grit somehow got into my BB and now it’s making noises. So we just kept it rolling, and after another half hour the sun actually began popping out. That’s when the long sleeved jersey came off. Jude and I paralleled I-81 for a good while, crossing and re-crossing the interstate several times in the process. Got to our out, CR 80 west and get the freaking heck off of 11 and in an instant we were way out in the countryside of Va. Went from like suburbs to country in 3 miles – nothing but farms and rolling foothill countryside as far as the eye could see. Fabulous!
Met up with Bill in the van and made the rider change at about 2.5 hours in. Made a road change to to a little county road, CR 700 and took that pup west. Very little traffic, very decent road, but wow, it was just a climbing fest of power climbs. I mean that was a total roller coaster of a ride. Very little flats, but a WHOLE lot of up and down. That’s where my bottom bracket was just making some gnarly noises as I went out of the saddle or in the saddle on the climbs, where I applied a lot of pressure on the crank arms. It was really beginning to bug me.
We must have done a solid 25-30 miles of that CR 700, and it just crushed my legs with the non-stop power climbing. Bill, as Judy, did one heck of a job climbing. I have to say that on the three trans-continental trips I’ve done, they have taken part in all three, and on this trip they have just taken it up a notch with respect to their stamina and climbing ability. They’re there darned near all the time. Really good to see.
So the next change was us getting on SR 58/421 northwest to Gate City. Again, another really great backcountry road that was pretty mellow with respect to the traffic situation. By then the sky had greyed over and sprinkles were in the air on occasion. Kind of gave us a sense of urgency to finish the day out before the heavens burst forth with more rain. On the way we had talked about power washing our drive trains in a car wash to see if that would help with my noisy BB situation, and wouldn’t you know it, within several miles of discussing that we passed a little car wash out in the middle of nowhere. Hell, it looked so non-used that the coin machine had cobwebs on it, and we were a bit afraid that it would gobble Bill’s quarters and then not even turn on. But it did and we spayed our bikes down, with me really concentrating on the BB, chain, rear cluster and chain.
Got it rolling again….and there were still some noises coming out of my BB. I’ll have to spay lube the whole thing tomorrow morn and see what the verdict is then. Sometimes noises like that just go away, and sometimes they’re a portent to nasty things to come. Hopefully my deal is of the former. Made it to Gate City and we all agreed to shoot for a motel considering that the call for weather tonight is for some heavy thunder storms to move through. Forecast is that by 8pm the ----is going to hit the fan.
We had to drive across the TN border to Kingston, TN to find a Super 8. Then munched at a local pizza place that had an “all you can eat” pizza buffet. Final consensus: ok, not great, but certainly ok.
Back at the Super right now watching the storm front moving in. Good night to not be camping judging by the worst-case scenario fanatics on the Weather Channel.
Tomorrow we’re hoping to make Cumberland Gap Nat. Park in Va. …….Pete