Atkins to Chilhowie, Virginia. (19 mi.) Mile 541Rained off the route.The rain that forced us off the route to find a motel yesterday only intensified today. It was slick as snot out there: poor visibility and standing puddles, unsafe to ride. We studied the map and came up with a plan to shortcut the route, travel west on US 11 (where we had detoured yesterday) and pick up the route again in 2 days, cutting 43 miles off and missing a lot more hill climbing. "Oh well", says Mike cheerfully. A bike shop guy told us later that many others did this.Looking out from the laundromat at the rainNow we are only 19 miles farther west and back in a motel, but with a bottle of wine, crackers, cheese, and the remote control. This is probably the only time we have had so far to actually crash after a day of riding. Usually it takes us all day to get somewhere, and when we get there, we have camp chores, washing out our clothes by hand, and this journal to deal with, etc. Even the 19 miles today took a long time because of the traffic and weather. We took our time along the way, checked out historic Marion (heavy on the antique shops), and spent a lot of time in a laundromat drying clothes.Riding a bicycle across the country isn't easy! At least this will give us a chance to rest our muscles.We appreciate the comments from people who email us and who talk to us along the way. Bicycle tourists seem easy for strangers to approach. Several times we have stopped by the side of the road, looking like lost travelers studying a map, when people have pulled up in their car, rolled down the window, and asked things like, "Do you know where to find a good pizza?" (Answer: Gino's West on Michigan Ave., Chicago -
Do we look like we are from around here or what!?), or "Could you tell us how to get to J.C.Penneys?"Almost everywhere we stop to eat, people ask us about our trip, even though locals are a little jaded on this relatively highly traveled route. One waitress said our trip sounded a little like the TV show "Survivor". "Yeah," we said, "but we can't vote each other off," though the thought has occurred to each of us at one time or the other.The weather is supposed to remain stormy and wet for almost a week. The plan is to get one of our rare early starts, make at least 35 miles tomorrow to another shelter, then eventually, pick up the pace so we can return to our jobs on time......which we think about constantly.....yeah, right....ha....Rain makes it hazardous to ride.