Monday, July 4, 2016

Days 13 and 14: New Companions!

2 Day Mileage: 62.8 + 63.2 = 126.0
Total Mileage: 829.7
Day Time: 5:42:53 + 5:14:54 = 10:57:47
Total Time: 3 days 5:36:43

  Snapchat @MSquaredYE Day 13  

  Snapchat @MsquaredYE Day 14

   I got some great sleep and an even better breakfast by Isaac as I mentioned in yesterday's post. I was definitely right about not wanting to leave because I didn't get on the road until noon on the dot. The beautiful home with AC paired with great company made the stay amazing and leaving tough, but onward I must go.

   Day 13 was filled with short, steep hills which made the whole day a drudge. I think the reason being... I am on the road alone again. It's the reason leaving Greyson and Isaac in the morning was so hard. It's also a reason you see a heavy dose of snapchats early in the morning. The snap chatting makes me feel connected to the rest of you. That is until I get in a groove and the cycling becomes a little easier. That and I get lost in the audiobooks and podcast...  

 I kept pumping along listening to far more audiobook than typical until I ran into Jimi Justin Hendrix. Justin was just on his way home from a training session for his friend who is "Everesting" and was kind enough to escort me out of Radford, VA. It was a pleasure to ride with him for 30 minutes and it brightened my day to meet such a kind person.  

The rest of the day I kept pushing through the hills, found a Dairy Queen and got a blizzard and chili cheese dog and ended the night around 7 pulling into a little picnic area with a Pavillion for shelter. To my surprise there were 3 cyclist traveling the Transam. The highest point of the day, and maybe the whole trip! Ryan and Mike from Brooklyn and Jamie from the UK. Funny part is, Ryan and Mike both left together on June 20th just like me. They took the route down the coast whereas I turned off DC to ride through Shenandoah Park. But here we meet all three on day 13!

We hit it off pretty quickly. Mike is a Cubs fan and the Mets are playing the Cubs tonight. So I threw the game on the app and we enjoyed getting to know each other while watching America's favorite pastime. Soon after we all picked out our favorite picnic table and fell asleep with ease through "strength in numbers" as Ryan says.  

We gradually awoke around 8 AM and each began our morning rituals. Without ever having camped with these guys, let alone anyone else, it was a seamless process in which we all ended up ready to go at the same time.

It was already imminent we would be staying together for at least the next few days, so I mentioned my 4th of July plans. I have a warm showers host in Abingdon that is going to take me in for the night of the 3rd and all of the 4th to celebrate the holiday. I messaged him hoping he could take in 3 more guys.

In the meantime we rolled out 4 deep. The first half of the day was once again filled with hills, but this time mostly long, gradual hills. Having Ryan, Mike and Jaime to ride with made what could have been a difficult day alone, a great day of riding together.

Ryan, Mike and Jaime all only have rear panniers and quite less weight than me. I was happy their presence pushed me to go a little faster and harder today, but more importantly made me realize I need to shed some extra weight. Riding alone and going at my own pace, I figured who cares if I'm dragging a little today, but now I see the importance of reducing my load.

Ryan crushes the hills and lead the way all day while Mike, Jaime and I took turns paired up getting to know each other. Without a doubt, getting to know each other was not just fun, but the distraction we all needed to push through the first half of the day. 

With absolutely zero service all day, we couldn't find a place to eat, nor were we hearing back from my warm showers host. When we finally got to our day's summit, we rolled on down hill for a few miles until spotting a new convenient store who served sandwiches and pizza.
  Here we met Dave. A local cyclis who has done some week long tours in his day and dreams to ride the whole Transam when he retires. Dave rode us to the nearby "Virginia Creeper Trail" which is approximately a 10 mile dirt/gravel trail ALLLLLL DOWNHILL to Damasucs, VA. We could even continue on it to Abingdon to our hopeful warm showers host. But still no service.    
The start of the Creeper Trail
I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I think we all agree these 10 miles were a highlight for our trip. Not only is it gorgeous, but it was a gradual downhill that kept our pace at 20+ mph. 
My finish at Astoria, OR only 3712 miles away!
  Once we hit Damascus we took a quick break and finally found some wifi and service (only if you have Verizon). My host at warm showers could not accommodate 4 guys so we started making new plans. Deciding we would stay in Damascus we began calling hostels and inns all around. 

 Thanks to an AT hiker we met a few hours earlier, she suggested Woodchuck hostel where she stayed in an Tipi. We made our way to Chuck's and couldn't be happier about the decision. The house was full but we were able to tent in the backyard, take a warm shower (ha-ha) and play some cornhole. 
After we ate we made our way to the park for a few beers and fireworks. It was an impressive show for such a small town.

   To say the least, it was a very successful first day with my new group and I am loving typing "we" instead of "I"    


  1. Keep living the dream Matt, I am following you all the way.

  2. Glad you found some cool dudes to enjoy the journey with, Mat Hew

  3. Glad you found some cool dudes to enjoy the journey with, Mat Hew