We thought tonight’s campsite would be close to Marion, VA where there is a library, (that’s where we are now), but turns out the campsite is 6 miles down the road and there’s a stiff headwind, so we only have a few minutes here.  But better a short update that none.  I had so much to say 🙂 but don’t know when I’ll get another opportunity, so this will be a start.

Leaves are falling… sweet to have them come down around us as we ride.  New experience and memorable.  Some of the most stunning trees now have some bare branches as well as glorious color.  Geese flying south, evenings cooler.

Since I last wrote we’ve had occasion to meet many more angels:  ones offering hints and help with flat tires; the construction worker who let us walk across the bridge that was basically closed to traffic, thus saving us about 5 uphill miles back tracking; the sweet waitress in the Hollywood Bakery and Restaurant who made Mike’s day by calling him sweetie and honey and sugar, and telling him what beautiful blue eyes he had (I was taking a ‘restroom’ break — more about restrooms later if I get a chance); James in the Black Dog Bikes (cool logo, eh?), when both our gear shifting cables had broken overnight; Gail who drove us in from the campground in her pick-up; various kind folks who have helped with directions and encouragement…  Mike has a theory that whenever trouble happens, there are nice people there to help.  I call ’em angels 🙂

So are we stupid, brave, persistent, out-of-our-minds, adventurous, gluttons for punishment?  Words fail me, there must be others, but I guess I’d say, all of the above, at least?  We’ve come along from Harrisonburg, making it all the way up the Shenandoah Valley, transitioning to the Roanoke then the New River Valleys, and are now headed for Bristol, on the border between TN and NC.   We’ll be in Asheville in about a week, if all goes well.

We took a few short-cuts off our tried and true route 11, through Roanoke and Salem, and were relegated to a service road for the last 10 miles of yesterday as route 11 merged with I-81 (you can’t cycle on Interstates, and we don’t want to), into Wytheville (pronounced with-vul, accent on with), but overall 11 has been very good to us.  Low to medium traffic, some stunningly beautiful stretches, towns along the way with places to stop; mostly favorable winds, lots of wonderful ‘down’ stretches to coast and enjoy and breathe deeply, friendly people, some terrific restaurants, lots of history and settlement culture…  Yesterday, from Christiansburg to Wytheville, was our biggest day, almost 50 miles (75 or more km), with camping gear and serious hills — we’re planning not to do anymore like that!  We are now in the “Virginia Rail Heritage Region,” and there are lots of tracks and trains and a different flavor from the Shenendoah Valley, but also stunning prospects.

Of the last stretch, a major highlight was, of course, The Natural Bridge, where we took the whole day and stayed overnight.

I have many more musings, observations, challenges, rewards, questions and comments, but no time.  So I’ll sign off for now, and hope to fill in this section with a bit more detail at some later date.  Off to the campsite!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback is most welcome.

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