Day 47 – Wytheville to Daleville

Fri 23rd July 2010

Today we finally cycled through the 4,000 mile barrier to clock 4,011 miles by the end of the day. That leaves just 330 miles to Yorktown which we know is not far but after 47 days of cycling it’s far enough!

Today has been a hot one, probably the hottest day so far with temperatures reaching 96 degrees F. It was humid as well making it feel uncomfortable and clammy (soaking actually). To make it worse, today was full of short sharp hills making it the third highest daily climbing total of the whole ride. On top of that we had to cycle an extra 20 miles further than planned to reach Daleville because the B&B in Catawba was closed.


We've had mountains either side of us as we cycled along the valley

New River

The New River at Radford

If the weather and terrain weren’t enough Chris and I lost each other today. I was in front and turned right at a bridge. I waited until Chris was half way across and certain he’d seen me I then carried on. He didn’t see me and went straight on for about 4 miles. I also cycled on for 4 or 5 miles and waited for Chris at the next turn and waited and waited but no sign of Chris. Luckily, for the first time on the ride, both our phones had a signal and we were able to speak but had problems working out where we had gone wrong and where we were relative to each other. Anyway we lost an hour because of this and did get back together. Thank goodness the phones worked and that the route is signed well in Virginia.

Transam Trail sign

The TransAm route is well signed in Virginia. The 76 represents the year it was first ridden.

So it’s been a fun day and lots of the route had little shade to keep us cool but on the plus side the scenery was great for most of the day. Just before we reached Catawba a thunder storm passed over us and soaked us briefly. That was just wonderful but it was soon gone and replaced by scorching heat.

Catawba General Store

The store in Catawba was a welcome stop to fill our empty water bottles

We reached Daleville at about 4:30pm which was later than we wanted to finish but at least we have a very short day tomorrow of about 50 miles and the forecast is 97F. Today has made us feel tired and washed out so we ate at a restaurant that had a seafood buffet (as much as you can eat) for $10, so we are now very full as well.

Daily Mileage -91.4 miles

Time in Saddle -7 hrs 48 mins

Total Climbing – 5,671 ft

Day 46 – Damascus to Wytheville

Thurs 22nd July 2010

Debbie got up early today so that we could have our breakfast at 6:30am. She’s such a good cook we could have stayed a lot longer. But all good things come to an end and our rest day was finally over and it was time to go and we did so with some fond memories of Damascus.

Leaving Damascus

Saying goodbye to Debbie this morning.

We set off at about 7:15am which is late for us but we only had 70 miles today and we felt pretty relaxed about the day ahead. Our main challenge of the day was a climb up to 3,750 ft, the highest we’ll go in the Appalachians. It turned out not to be a challenge at all as the gradient was nothing like those we had climbed in the past few days and we were over the top very soon.

Chris cycling

Chris still going strong - and he hasn't fallen off for ages. At this rate he'll get his proficiency badge.

Chris up close

Is that the only cravat he owns?

Today we decided to get some video of us riding the bikes so using a Pedco Ultraclamp I secured the camcorder to my rear rack to get some shots of Chris behind me. It’s a great little clamp and can be attached anywhere. It also holds the camera very securely wherever it’s fixed.

Camcorder fixed to rear of my bike

Camcorder fixed to the rear of my bike

Alan's handlebars

This is my 'cockpit' with all I need to stay on the route and deal with dog attacks. I'll be glad when I no longer have to look at this view.

We made good time today and a few long slightly downhill sections with the wind behind us and that made for some easy cycling. There were also a few short hills in full sun too which were not so good but overall today has been a good day and we feel, at long last, that the end is finally in sight. With just 6 cycling days left and no more long days we want to enjoy the next week as much as possible. Our day off the bikes yesterday also made us feel much better today with none of that fatigue we usually feel in the mornings. Because we’ve cycled for so many days without a break we’d forgotten what it’s like not to feel tired.

Alan cycling

Chris is let loose with my camera - Take 14 - Action

Alan close up

What a good looking fella - haircut and trimmed beard as well. Sadly no cravat.

We actually cycled a bit further than Wytheville today, about 10 miles past the town but it’s a big place and we are still just on the outskirts. Tomorrow we have about 70 miles to complete and the terrian is undulating so we could end up with a fair amount of climbing and the weather forecast is for a hot day. With no raincoat I’m not complaining about that!

We met Gary today, he was doing the TransAm and was heading to Astoria. He’s got such a long way to go so good luck to him.


Gary heading West - Only 4,000 miles to go

Daily Mileage -69.2 miles

Time in Saddle -5 hrs 49 mins

Total Climbing – 4,329 ft

Rest Day in Damascus

Wed 21st July 2010

We noticed today that we have some more sponsorship money donated to Cancer Research through our ‘Just Giving’ site. So thanks to David and Brenda for those new donations.

Wow, it was so good to have a lay in until 8:00am this morning after waking up at 5:00am for the past two weeks. An early morning shower followed by a fantastic breakfast was the perfect start to the day. We’re staying at the Apple Tree  B&B which is really nice and we are made to feel very much at home by Debbie and Les. Damascus is a great little town to have a day off and the local restaurant cooked up some tasty catfish last night.

Apple Tree B&B

Apple Tree B&B - Highly recommended

After breakfast I wandered over the road to Eula’s and had my haircut for the first time in two months. I also tidied up the beard which I now seem to have and feel almost human again. We still have a long way to cycle but we feel very close to the finish now and find it hard to believe how far we’ve come to reach this point.

Damascus Shady Ladies

A gathering of shady ladies - Eula (third from left) cut my hair

We’ve done very little today other than rest, walk around the town a little and chat to Debbie. She even made us a pot of real tea. It’s going to be hard to leave this place.

Damascus Main St - I hope the two in the pick-up have their seat belts on!

Tonight we recieved an email from our cycling friend Ed, who carried on cycling today. He’s recommended a motel we could stay at tomorrow so we may make for there if conditions are good as it’s further than we’d planned to go but still not too far. We’ve also recieved some more offers of accomodation as we near Yorktown so that will make the last few days something special. Our rest day will have done us good and we should set off tomorrow feeling fresh and we’ll definately be on the home straight with just 500 miles to go.

This evening we went back to the local restuarant, Quinceys but just had a bowl of soup and some chips. On our way back to the B&B we then saw the cycling  family we had stayed with in Sebree last week. They caught us up today and are doing incredibly well through this terrain especially as the father, Jim, has ridden with a broken spoke since Berea. It was grreat to see them again and have a catchup. They are even staying at the same B&B so we hope to see them at breakfast too. They will have a late start tomorrow as Jim’s bike must be fixed before they can set off. At least they have a choice of three bike shops here to do the work. It’s great to meet the other cyclists doing this ride and share information and experiences.  And it’s strange to think that we could also go the rest of our lives without ever bumping into another TransAm cyclist once this trip is over.

Day 45 – Breaks to Damascus

Tues 20th July 2010

The motel we stayed in last night was on a steep hill so this morning we were not given any opportunity to warm up before tackling the climbs. We expected a tough day with 80 miles to do over the hilliest sections of the Appalachians but the long climbs came early in the day while we were still fresh so overall it was an enjoyable day despite posting the second highest climbing total in a day.

View of Appalachians

Our road is in there somewhere

The highlight of today was the descent down into Hayters Gap, a very fast winding downhill for 4 miles. It was a lot of fun until we had to start climbing again towards Damascus.

Climbing to Hayters Gap

We had some great roads during some of today's climbs

We reached Damascus at about 3:00pm by which time it was very hot and we were glad to get off the bikes. Damascus is a small town but it has three bike shops. It’s very much a tourist town which attracts cyclist and hikers alike. We plan to take a rest day here tomorrow and it looks like a good place to hang out for a day.


Wow, are we that close to home already

Dollar World

Hey Waddy - they even have shops for you here!

We rode for a while today with Ed and Matt and had dinner this evening with Ed before saying farewell to him. We’ve been riding with Ed for over a week now but tomorrow he will go on so this is where we part company. We’re going to miss him.

Daily Mileage – 78.9 miles

Time in Saddle -7 hrs 51 mins

Total Climbing – 6,632 ft

Day 44 – Hindman to Breaks VA

Mon 19th July 2010

Last night we stayed at the Historical Society in Hindman. It was a strange place to stay because the hospitality was good but the sleeping accommodation was appalling. The host, David, looked after us well and provided a baked potato and ice cream for desert. The breakfast this morning was also excellent but we were expected to sleep in a tent which was both wet and filthy. It’s a shame because it could be made really nice and sweating all night in a hot tent did not make for a good nights sleep.


Our 1 star accomodation last night

So we set off this morning glad to put last night behind us intending to reach Breaks in Virginia. It was cloudy for most of the morning so we managed to get a lot of miles in before the baking sun came out. That was just as well because we had a couple of long climbs today the second of which was the steepest sustained climb of the entire trip. It only went on for about 1.5 miles but it took a lot of effort to get to the top. One guy in a pick up slowed right down and said “You guys are tough” before driving off.

Poor Bottom

This place must have been named by a Transam Cyclist

Steep incline

The picture may not show it but that's so steep


Sherman finds a friend at last.

We are still riding with Ed, our American friend from Kansas and today we’ve also been riding with Matt who is heading for New York, so it’s been a good day for us to have others to talk to along the way. Just before the end of the day we left Kentucky and crossed into Virginia, our tenth and final State. It was a good feeling to know we are, at long last, in Virginia and it means that we’ve survived Kentucky’s gauntlett of dogs. One bit Chris’s pannier today as he was riding past but Chris stayed on the bike so again a photo opportunity was denied us.

Entering Virginia

And then there were four! Great to be in Virginia

We’ve now been riding for 14 days without a break so our plan is to use our last rest day in Damascus on Wednesday. So, unless something unexpected happens, we should be sticking with the itinerary on the website until we reach Yorktown.

Daily Mileage – 66.3 miles

Time in Saddle – 5 hrs 48 mins

Total Climbing – 4,421 ft

Day 43 – Booneville to Hindman

Sun 18th July 2010

The house we stayed at last night was very comfortable and was ideal apart from the fact that we had no Internet connection and that I was stung on the leg by a nasty looking wasp. But we slept well and the early finish yesterday allowed us to rest.

We left at first light this morning, when it was cool, hoping for another early finish with just over 60 miles to reach Hindman. The weather today was much the same with very high humidity and temperatures in the 90′s so the cycling was hot and hard work especially on the longer climbs.


A quarry off Highway 80

We rescued two more tortoise today who were sunbathing in the road and as usual had a few dogs wanting to run along next to us. We’ve been told that chasing dogs will not occur in Virginia so if that’s true tomorrow will be their last chance to get us.

Part of our route today took us on Highway 80, a very busy and wide road with very long hills. We were on this for about 10 miles and it was very unpleasant compared to the small intimate roads we’ve got used to over the past few weeks.

Highway 80

Highway 80. We were glad to get off this road

The last few miles into Hindman were quite flat and we finished at about 1:45pm. We still have our rest day to take and although we’ve now cycled for 13 days without a break we plan to carry on for another two days and take a day off in Damascus as planned.

Daily Mileage – 66.6 miles

Time in Saddle – 6 hrs 13 mins

Total Climbing – 4,606 ft