Draper to Atkins, Virginia. (50 mi.) Mile 522Off route for a "hot share".Every morning the Bryson's open their store at 7 am, and Karen Bryson starts fixing homemade breakfast biscuit sandwiches with a choice of bacon, sausage, pork tenderloin, fried egg, tomato, and/or cheese. For about an hour a steady stream of locals drop by to start the day with one of these breakfast sandwiches, a bargain at about $1.50.We hung around the store and had breakfast and coffee while waiting for the thick fog to burn off. Early morning riding is the best, when temperatures are cool, and the wind and traffic are light, but even though we know this and make better mileage when we get an early start, we've only managed to get on the road before 8 am twice.
The route parallels a couple of major arterials, so we stopped for a break at a huge truck stop at one of the intersections. It is some kind of joke if you ask for the restaurant's "non-
smoking section" at at one of these places.We were able to plug our laptop into one of the phones the truckers use in the booths and read our email. We have limited opportunity to hook up to the Internet, much less respond to everyone, but we'd like to say that the email is very much appreciated and encouraging. There also seems to be a big interest in a picture of Mike without his mustache. Now that he has had a chance to become reacquainted with his upper lip, he thinks it's for the best if he covers it back up, so he's growing his mustache back, even though that means carrying that extra weight.We had made reservations at an Inn about 55 miles down the road, but in Wytheville, Mike had a screw come lose (in his pedal). Wouldn't ya know it that the right size Allen wrench was among the things we sent home a few days ago. We were delayed a few hours solving the problem, and it was starting to rain when we left Wytheville. It soon became apparent there was no way we would make it to our destination before running out of light and energy. The few accommodations on our route have been filling with Appalachian Trail hikers lately, since the TransAmerican bike route intersects the Appalachian Trail multiple times through here.Thanks to the directions of people like Becky Harrison, of Rural Retreat, and folks at the Atkins Days Inn, who took a look at two wet, bedraggled bicycle tourists and exclaimed, "Well bless your hearts, I think we can get you a special deal!", we were finally able to take those long, hot showers about 7 miles off route on Hwy 11.