April 25, 2001

4/25/01 Draper, VA

67.3 miles

The Cross Trails B&B is just heaven. The cathedral ceiling opens up the main room, complete with a huge library on everything outdoors. For the guests, there is another TV sitting area on the balcony next to the bedrooms. Even my room was huge. Katherine said they took the living room from one design and then added to it. That was 6 years ago and I am very lucky to get a room, as they were booked the night before and the night after I arrived.

Katherine & Bill Cohen

Last night at dinner, we talked a lot about the community, B&Bs, the AT, and how the internet was touching all of it. "We get almost 80% of our business from the internet," Bill says. He even has an internet column on Roanoke.com as the retired outdoor editor of the Roanoke Times.

This morning I had a breakfast for a king. Both Bill and Katherine cooked us a banana and dried cranberry fruit salad, followed by baked eggs, potato pancakes, biscuits, and candied pears. After David and Veronica left for the trail, Bill and I sat down to talk more about the bike trip. Bill is very easy-going to talk to. My battery was definitely recharged with my stay here.

The best thing about the old country roads is that they're not straight. Instead, they follow the contours of the land, giving you a more intimate connection with the countryside. Such was my ride through the Catawba valley. The land had more wrinkles and folds than your grandfather's face, but it was a joy to follow it. In fact, everything was going so smoothly, I swore I must have left a bunch of gear back at the B&B. Even the hills didn't seem to take any effort to get over. At the 10-mile mark, I just had to pull over and check my stuff. All there! Guess the stay with Bill and Katherine really did charge my battery.

Winding roads of Virginia

One surprise outside of Christiansburg was 5 miles of west-bound bike lane, complete with signs from Filter's Gate to Ellett. All morning I had ridden with wind pants and a jacket, but at Ellett I started stripping off layers.

All the guidebooks talked about "Danger Hill" on Main St. in Christiansburg, even giving alternate directions around it (I took the alternate). But if the long, steep climb just to reach the city limits is any measure, "Danger Hill" must be a cliff!

On the alternate route, which was a slow winding uphill through peaceful neighborhoods, I stopped off at the "Pizza Inn" for another AYCE. I keep telling myself that until later in the trip, I'm just not going to get my money's worth with these AYCE. So on to Radford.

Stopped off at the library to check my email. Then I had wanted to stop off at Radford University. The school started out as a women's teachers college and I thought it would be a good place to tell about this fund-raiser for women's studies. But it's a ways out of town and then "BANG"...flat tire! The problem was I was on a highway with no shoulder. Had to wait five minutes just till it was clear enough to get to the other side. I changed the tube and decided to push on because it was getting late.

The plan was to stay at Clayton Lake State Park, but after seeing the only camping was for RVs at $14 a night, I decided to push on. My problem was the setting sun. I was heading west and if the sun came down much further, it would blind the drivers behind me. And when you're on a road with no shoulders, others not seeing you is the easiest way to end this trip quickly.

But my body still had a little recharge, so I put it in high gear and "hauled ass." And made great time. I reached Bryan's General Store about 6:30 P.M. Unfortunately, the bike shop looked like it had been boarded up for a while. They told me that sometimes, cyclists camp at Dick Moose's Farm. So I got directions. The folks at the store were nice, patient, and real helpful.

I rode up to the farm but no one was home. It didn't feel right camping there without permission. So I decided to wait. I cooked dinner, looked over the maps for tomorrow, etc. The sun set and still no one. I really didn't have much choice now, so I set up the tent. But everything was ready in case I was made to leave. I even slept in my biking clothes. I was kind of nervous and jumpy, but finally fell asleep.