Rockfish Gap to Mallard Duck Campground, Virginia. (41 mi.) Mile 331Blue Ridge Parkway.......enough hills, already!!From the Inn at Rockfish Gap, we entered immediately into the Shenandoah National Park and the beautiful, lush and scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, but there was one catch: more climbing. The Parkway has relatively moderate grades and light traffic, but our route still involved another approx. 3,000 ft elevation gain. This wasn't such a problem before Charlottesville, but after a few more days of climbing with our heavy bikes, muscles were sore, and I was having trouble with the hills. At one point, as we were crawling at a snail's pace up another incline, a motorist coming toward us slowed down, rolled down his window and yelled what seemed self-
evident at the time, "Are you insane?!"We did, however, appreciate the greenery, the pink mountain laurel, purple rhododendrons, and mature hardwood forests of hickory, maple, and oak, looking like broccoli sprouts covering the distant mountains. We had to seek shelter under the trees once during a cloudburst, but when the sun returned, the Park was especially pretty.
The descent from the Parkway to the valley and the town of Vesuvius below involved approximately 3 miles of 13% grade, a hazard for bikes as heavy as ours. Half way down we stopped to let our smoking brake pads cool. Mike touched his bike's rim to see how warm it was and it burned his fingers. Our pace more than doubled once we hit flatter terrain.We decided to call it a day at a private campground (near a railroad track) about 9 miles east of Lexington. The map had indicated there might be a cafe nearby, but we learned the nearest food was farther then we wanted to go. As we were debating what to do, three women from another campsite came over to say they had heard we might be hungry, and invite us to share dinner with them. We learned later that they only lived a few miles away, but bring their travel trailer to this RV campsite every summer. They had had a considerable debate among themselves over the pros and cons of inviting unknown bicyclists to dinner, including their notion that bicyclists are usually "health food nuts" and might reject their simple burgers and "snaps and spuds", home-
cooked green beans and potatoes. This turned out to be one of the best meals we have had so far, and we couldn't thank them enough for this generosity.Arriving in Vesuvius