Mallard Duck Campground to Buchanan, Virginia. (42 mi.) Mile 373
More rolling through southern Appalachia
We are getting discouraged at our low mileage days, but this looks like par for the course until we get out of the hills. Perhaps part of the problem is that we keep calling them "hills" and that the Appalachians are determined to earn our respect as mountains, even though we come from a state where mountains are Mt. Rainier and the North Cascades. Riding a bicycle changes your perspective.
It rained most of the previous night, so we got a wet start, and made it to historic Lexington by noon, where we had lunch at an Inn while our clothes were in the laundromat next door.
Soggy start to the day at Mallard Campground
We are writing this from another motel. It rained all the previous night, and it is raining again, even though the days have been sunny and the countryside scenic. We have exploded all the contents of our panniers over the room to dry out, and are trying to reorganize our loads so Mike carries more and we send home as much excess as possible. Some of the "luxuries" that add to our weight include kickstands, camp pillows, and too many cameras. Our son Colin was right about the cameras, so we are sending one home. Anything to save weight, short of getting another haircut.
As I was puffing up another climb yesterday on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I contemplated if we really were nuts or not. A big tour bus had just pulled out at a scenic overlook and disgorged its passengers, so I checked out how I was doing by asking myself if I would trade places with them, and the answer was still no. In a motorized vehicle much is missed, including almost all of the sounds and smells. This route has been notably sweet with bird song and fragrance. The many interactions we have had with friendly strangers and the fleeting images that would be missed from a car give the trip more depth for us.
As for the dogs, things are going better with the Halt dog spray. Yesterday a dog chased us for much longer than was comfortable, interfering with our concentration and safety. Mike simply took the Halt out of the holster and aimed it at the dog, "Go ahead, make my day!". The dog closed its eyes, ducked its head, and turned tail. That was an experienced dog on a bike route. TransAm cyclists have been bitten and had their panniers torn by dogs on this route before, particularly in Kentucky, until they invested in pepper spray.
People have also been very curious about how our Saddle Areas are holding up. We can tell we've been in the saddle all day but it hasn't been a big problem. Besides padded bike shorts, Marilyn is using a Performance Women's Century Saddle, the winner over a dozen others tested for fit, plus a Nashbar shocked seat post, a worthwhile investment. Mike's new Terry Liberator saddle has not caused any problems.
Marilyn's Bruce Gordon BLT has a slight wheel wobble on rapid downhill descents. We're pretty sure Bruce Gordon would deny it is the design of the bike, so we are going to take some weight off the handlebar bag and see if it improves. Mike's bike has fallen over and broken his mirror twice in a 24 hr period. Since we are between bike shops, he has patched a mirror arrangement together with duct tape. One shouldn't even leave the house without duct tape.