You see, my sister had a friend in middle school whose parents were friends with our parents, and they now live in Crozet, a little town between Charlottesville and Afton. Tho' they were not home as we passed them by, they graciously invited us to stay in their house nevertheless. It is really nice to be indoors after getting up in a mud pit last night. In the morning we make eggs with spinach and red bell peppers, and dry our tents in the sun a little as we get ready. We do our best to put the place exactly as it was before we arrived and leave a thank you note as we go out the door.
Due to our exhausting night last night we sleep in and we get a late start, rolling at about 11:30. The clouds look as if they were spread across the sky with a butter knife. In Crozet there's a little peach orchard farmer's market and we have second breakfast there, the others buying apple cider doughnuts while I buy an apple but eat marshmallow fluff and dark chocolate peanut butter. We don't have enough food for lunch and wont be in civilization for a while after this so Jenn, Dan, and I take a detour to get food for our next three meals while the others go on and get a head start up the big hill we have to climb today. I don't like splitting up but I go along. The grocery store turns out to just be a gas station market but we get what we can (pork & beans and corned beef hash) and stop at another small farmer's market for eggs and mixed greens.
From Crozet to Afton it's all uphill and I flag pretty hard, going about 3 mph and stopping periodically to rest my butt and thighs. The road is pretty and mostly empty until Afton, but it's all uphill and I'm in a bad mood. We stop for a quick snack before hitting the blue ridge parkway, and that gets my spirits up. The blue ridge parkway is all uphill for a long while too, tho'. We meet the others at a sobriety checkpoint (we don't have to go thru it, haha) and continue upward. I'm the slowest one for this type of cycling. I lag behind basically all day because we climb well over 3,000 feet and on a fully loaded bike, it's really slow going.
When we've gone 35 miles the sun is setting and it's getting really cold and we're at the junction that would take us to Reed's gap, so Dan and Travis try to scout out the crossroad. Dan comes back after a while huffing and puffing, saying the hill he just went down and up makes everything we've done so far look like a joke. We hesitate what to do because we don't have enough daylight to finish the parkway today, but thankfully another cyclist comes up behind us (coming back to his car from a day's ride) and since he knows the area he tells us what's what. Turns out we're right next to the Appalachian Trail so people camp in these fields all the time and it's okay. So we just walk a ways on the actual Trail and veer off into a field and pitch our tents in the grass.
It's getting really cold because it's dark and we're over 3000 ft up, and Jenn has a real rough time of it, huddling in her tent as the rest of us cook. I let her borrow a fleece vest of mine that I'd brought for Colorado weather and she warms up enough to come out and eat her corned beef-pork & beans-hash. When we've eaten we retire to our tents to sleep. I pitched mine right over a bump but if I sleep curled on one side or another I can curl around it but I still toss and turn a lot. It's windy all night and the rattling of my tent wakes me up many times but at least it doesn't rain on us.
Tomorrow there's not as big of a climb so it should be easier.
distance covered (Jenn, Dan, and I): 36 miles
riding time: 4 hrs 56 min
average speed (for me at least): 7.2 mph
maximum speed: 35.8 mph
total so far: 411.5 miles
today's featured cyclist: my cousin!
Daphne riding Christopher Robin