April 26, 2001

4/26/01 Sugar Grove, VA

55.4 miles

Woke up to a thick blanket of fog. I still decided to break camp quick, just in case. Because of the fog, I was glad I could take the New River trail back to the store instead of the road. Visibility was only 30 feet.

I'm sure, all across America, at the small town market, the same scene unfolds every morning. By the time I got there, the grill was busy making egg sandwiches for the farmers and the kids waiting for the bus. Terry, who runs the store, had just returned from a road trip to Wyoming. So he caught up on everything that happened while he was gone and told about his trip. One of the high school boys complained about being suspended for hugging a girl. "It wasn't as if I had my tongue down her throat," he said. Soon it was just Terry, his wife, and me.

They were preparing to move to Debois, WY whenever they could get things worked out. He hated to leave the store because it had been in his family for 40 years, and he had run it for the last 20. "Things have changed too much here," he lamented. The road trip had been to check up on some property he already owned and he wanted to start fresh. I told him I'd look out for him in the fall when I'm on the Great Divide Route.

Do you remember how I said that these country roads let you get more intimate with the landscape? Well, too much intimacy can be a bad thing. The hills were killing me. Plus, I think the only reason the road curved so much was so it could go over more hills. And the temperature was such that you needed a jacket on the downhills, but got too hot on the uphills.

Over hill and dale

In Wytheville, I checked my email and stopped for AYCE pizza. I know, I said I'm not ready for that, but it sounded so good and it was on the route.

The road after that was the usual. I decided that every town we ride through is either built on the tallest hill around or in the deepest valley.

Decided to shoot for the Raccoon Branch Campground a few miles past Sugar Grove. But to my surprise, the town was a full service one (I thought the maps said no services), and since I was only 2 miles from the campground, I decided to have an old-fashioned vanilla milk shake at the Mountain View Market. Good!

Finally reached the campground which I thought was deserted when I came upon Mike. He was pretty upset. He and his brother George had had a wreck today. A passerby took both George and his bike into Marion to get checked out. We talked awhile and it seemed as if Mike felt a little better.

Then, guess who drives up in a U-Haul -- George! Mike is ecstatic, the bike wheel is destroyed, and since he couldn't rent a car, he got a truck. The bike is boxed up. He'll drive to Louisville on Wednesday for his flight home. In the meantime, he will hang out with Mike and me in Damascus. Just another fun evening with Mike and George.