After a reasonably warm night outside the post office i woke excited. The chai that the Nepali gas station guy promised me seems to be the reason for the joy. It was exactly 7 am in the morning when i got to the gas station. Asked them for chai and discovered that they guy’s sister in law dint drink tea. That sucked. After a cup of coffee got on the way. I figured i would get to Buchanan and get something to eat. After a bunch of hills reached the town. Nothing to write home about just a small town with a Burger king. Adam showed up. He was figuring out if he should climb the same day or the next. Chatted with him for a bit and we headed out. The plan was to ride to Lexington for lunch and then get to the base of Vesuvius by 5 pm and hopefully climb up and get to Afton by 9 at night. The plan seems super ambitious and only if I get to Afton will I be able to finish on 28th. Today is the long day that I have been putting off.
Rolled out of the town of Buchanan and headed towards Lexington. The town was extremely nice. A nice street with a bunch of old buildings all well kept. The main street thad lots of stores and a college run by the armed forces. Towards the end of town was a nice restaurant selling Burgers and coffee. Stopped by to get some food to eat. Went in to order and it started to rain. Sat around eating and drinking waiting for the rain. Finally after about an hour of waiting headed out. Seemed like it would rain later but thats something to worry about later. My next stop would be at the grocery store at the base of Vesuvius,
The road to the base was reasonably flat. Made some time. Met Adam on the way and we kept riding. He wasn’t going to climb in the evening and wanted to stay at the base somewhere and climb in the morning. We passed a couple of gas stations and kept riding on. If i was alone I would have stopped but now since Adam was also pushing it we headed out. Finally reached the base of the mountain. It was about 5 in the evening. Quick stop at the famous grocery store for cup of coffee. We decided to go check out the post office and the church. At the grocery store they gave us the phone number of the person who helped cyclists find accommodation at the church. Unfortunately wasn’t able to reach him so we rode to the post office. As i expected the AC was on full blast and it was super cold inside. Adam called the church again and the guy picked up. Met him at the church and he gave us the bad news. Sleeping inside the church wasn’t an option since they have been specifically told by there insurance company not to do that and sleeping outside under the gazebo was a liability issue since they were renovating the place. Adam decided to stealth camp in the church or just put up his tent somewhere. i headed out towards Afton.
It was about 7 ish in the evening when i began the climb. Thankfully Andrew had told me about it. The first 2 miles were horrible since it was super steep. After the first 2 miles it got a little easier to start climbing. Slowly reached the the top on the blue ridge parkway. The view from here was amazing but sadly i could barely see anything since it was night. I was told that this part was the best part of the entire eastern part of the ride. Too bad i missed that maybe the next time. As i rode the parkway it got really dark. All the ghost stories I had read about in the past came back. Its was a little scary to be up a mountain with a small light in front of the bike with nobody around. A car passed by and then turned around and followed me for a min or so. Every scary movie scenario came to my mind. Alone in the woods in the middle of the night with a car following me isn’t always a good sign. The car pulled up and it was David. He was watching me on the tracker and came up to see if I was ok. He is known for giving racers Watermelon after they climb the mountain. This time around he brought some grapes. We chatted for a bit while I ate the world’s best grapes in the world. David would wait for me at the bottom of the hill and show me the way to the Bike house. Slowly rode towards the town. At the Rockfish gap I met David who showed me the way to the Bike house.
Victoria met us at the Bike house. We tried to open the door but it was locked. A tourer had locked up the door and gone to sleep. After knocking on the door a couple of times with no answer climbed in from the back and knocked on the door. Finally they woke up and opened up the door. Took a coupe of pictures with David and chatted with Victoria for a little bit. She told me about the story of the Bike House. In 1976 an Old lady noticed that cyclists were coming up the hill in front of the house and put up a tap so that they would have water. Since she made cookies she made cookies for bikers. Sometimes she would let them sleep in the spare room she had. She passed away a few years ago and now Victoria keeps the tradition going. Victoria is a chef and makes cookies too. Its amazing to see so much kindness is there in the world. Everything that people tell you that the world is an evil place isn’t true.
After a quick chat and a small sink bath got to bed. The couch was super soft and welcoming. Finally the day was over. Checked my phone and Andrew had sent me a text . He was talking to David and he was checking to make sure i was ok since it was late at night when i started the climb. Its been an amazing day meeting and talking to new people. Tomorrow onward to Mineral.
Lesson for the day: Usually ghosts don’t hang out in the bushes waiting for you to ride by to jump out and scare you.
Up Next: Day 55, Afton to Mineral