It was so great after such a long day yesterday to sleep in this morning. I can’t recall how many times I woke up and looked at the clock and said “mmmm…a little longer”. Fortunately Cam was thinking the same thing each hour. Thanks again to Chris and Emily for trusting us alone at your house so that we could do that while you were at work. I promise Cam didn’t clog up your toilet and we didn’t feed Duck any steaks!
Today was a pretty good day for riding. We didn’t start riding until 11:45am. The first two miles down Chris and Emily’s road was all downhill (Emily drove us up the day before while we held onto the sides of her car) and then it was another 7 downhill from there. It was a beautiful ride into Damascus along the Holston River and through the Mt. Rogers recreational area of Jefferson National Forest.
In Damascus we grabbed some lunch at a local pizza place. I am not sure who smelled worse, us or the few people there who were hiking through on the Appalachian Trail. During our trek we have discovered how to replace the much needed calories that we are burning…DESSERTS! We ordered this delicious hot fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream, whip cream, and caramel drizzle. Yes…it was as good as it looks.
Damascus also marked the point that we picked up on the Trans America Trail. This is the trail that we will be taking across the majority of the country and is mapped out specifically for cyclists.
Today’s plans were to ride approximately 63 miles into the town of Rosedale. These plans involved one particularly major climb toward the end of the route. We didn’t think much about it looking at the map other than “well, here it is…guess we have to go over it”. If you read yesterday’s post on Hwy 181 we mentioned how brutal it was. Well this climb was no different! Come to find out this climb in the cycling world is categorized as a Cat 1 climb. It was 3.5 miles long with a 7.9% grade. Basically we could ride with the pros now! Ha! Hwy 181 is categorized as a Cat 2.
Once back down the mountain, we both were out of water, our legs were shot, and dusk was setting. I had nothing left in me to pedal but we still had 4 miles to go to Rosedale.
And then the greatest thing happened. What we thought was a school where we were going to look for a water spigot was actually Elk Garden United Methodist Church! We had been trying to call this church earlier in the day because we had been informed they allowed camping on their premises. However we came across something even better!
One cool thing about the TransAm trail is that places along the way are extremely cyclist friendly. So this church is set up similar to a hostel in a sense. They leave the door unlocked and you are welcome to food in the cabinets in the kitchen and a floor to sleep on or camp outside. All they ask is for a donation to continue to supply the place with more food. How awesome!
Looking forward to a nights rest and another early start in the morning.