April 24, 2001

4/24/01 Catawba, VA

57.6 miles

I almost forgot to tell you that included in the $20 tent fee was a huge mosquito population. I ended up making a smoky fire just so I could eat in peace.

Because I had a long day ahead, and because of the heat of the last two days, I decided on an early start. But even leaving at 7:15, I didn't get back to the TransAm route until 8 A.M. A pleasant morning ride.

Stopped in Buchanan for a bit of breakfast, then continued on. It was warm, but there was a little breeze that was welcome.

One thing that struck me today concerned my bike mirror. Before my AT hike, I bought hiking poles, but, before the hike, I thought it was a waste of money. I now know that my hike would have almost been impossible without those poles. The same goes for my rear view mirror. I've ridden for years without one, but got one because it was recommended. It is now so essential, I don't know if I could even tour without one. When you're riding a two-lane with no shoulder and two trucks are approaching from different directions, the mirror tells me when to take my mountain bike "off road."

A must stop for any cyclist should be "Nannie's Market." I stopped just for a few minutes to stretch a bit, when I got talking to Donald (DL for short). Here was one of the happiest young men I've ever met; all smiles, telling jokes, and greeting everyone who came through the door. He said he was from Tennessee, so I asked him how he came to Daleville, VA. "A woman, of course," he said, "and we're getting married on Saturday!" DL showed me some old pictures of both Nannie and the store. I hadn't planned on it, but decided to get some lunch there. While I was finishing my sandwich, DL tells me I might get wet. Startled, I look up and see a black band of clouds ahead. The weather gods are laughing again.

DL tells me to be careful because the next several miles are full of heavy traffic because of a cement factory and a landfill. But after that, it should be a peaceful ride. What's worse than sharing the road with truckers? Sharing it with them when it's raining! And guess what! After I get past the factory and landfill, the rain stops. Go figure.

The Catawba valley is such an American classic, that I wish I could come back someday to paint on canvas all that is here. Even with the overcast skies, the place looked peaceful.

Two long days in a row were taking their toll on me. I welcomed a rest in Catawba, when I spotted three thruhikers. We compared hiking and biking and such like that. But they needed to get back to the trail, and I needed back on the road.

The Cross Trails B&B finally showed itself at the top of the hill. As I drug the bike up the driveway, Bill Cohen greeted me at the door. Bill and his wife have run this B&B where the Appalachian Trail and the TransAmerican Bicycle Trail cross for the last 6 years. I found Bill when compiling information on Catawba for the Blue Ribbon Route.

The comfort of Cross Trails

After getting me settled in the "Katahdin Room," we went for dinner in nearby Salem. After that, I enjoyed talking to the other guests, a couple from New York, David and Veronica, section hiking the AT.

I can't tell you enough about the genuine hospitality and warmth I've gotten from Bill and Katherine. How is it that I'm so lucky to meet people like this every day on this trip? I just hope I can give even a portion of this back to others who meet me.

I'm tired, clean, warm, and can't keep my eyes open. But this is such an elegant place, I'm nervous to even sleep on the bed...