06/15/2004

Day 16 - 6/15
Troutville, VA to Radford, VA
60 (745)

Shortly after going to bed in the picnic shelter, the trains started going by on the nearby track. Not a single train had gone by all evening, but after midnight, three came through. I was basically sleeping right next to the track-it was loud.

For that reason, I decided to sleep in to about 6:30. Just as I was ready to be on my way, an older gentleman walked over to chat. It started out innocent enough, talking about age. He said that he was much older than he looks, then he asked me to guess. I said 80. Turns out he was 79. I suppose that could have been found offensive, since most people guess that he's in his 60s.

Then he pulls out his wallet to show me his 'card.' It's a Son of the Confederacy ID. He asks, 'Now, you know what most people think?' I don't answer. 'I'm a racist.'

'That's what people think or that's what you are?' I reply. Within minutes he's sharing he hatred of Lincoln, saying that he won't even carry five dollar bills. Then in another minute he's talking about the bible and how the whole country is doomed. Time for me to go.

About 15 miles out of town I have another flat. I pull it off and deduce that it's in the same spot as yesterday's flat. It looked like the tape on the rim that covers the spoke holes (I know I sound really technical here) wasn't laid evenly, so I rigged up something that hopefully will work. Though I am getting really fast at flipping my bike over and pulling off the rear tire.

I was feeling pretty tired a little too early in the day, so I pulled out my cd player. I'd always heard that it was bad to have headphones on while riding, but there was hardly any traffic (mister officer, sir). Music was just the distraction my mind and body needed. It's so easy when you're out there all alone to focus on how hard this really is and how slowly the odometer turns. Distractions are welcome, and the next 25 miles cruised by.

I hit some rain after lunch, though it was nothing compared to what I rode through in Baltimore.

The real treat of the day was arriving to the Lee's house in Radford. For the last several years they've been hosting bicyclists, with their fame coming entirely from word of mouth. I'd heard wonderful things about them from two other bicyclists and the Troutville park attendant. It's so wonderful during this trip to get a shower, a home-cooked meal, a little laundry, and a warm bed, all in a family setting. Thanks Sarah, Thad, Sam and Pete!