Sunday, June 21

More Blue Ridge

As one can see, the Cookie Lady is super excited to house and talk with cyclists that come through.  She not only welcomes folks warmly, but sends them on their way prepared - be it hunger pains or housing pains.  One of the more delightful treasures June sent me away with, in addition to a full stomach, was the business card of the Lee family who were located in Radford, VA.  Handing me the card, she went on and on to tell me story after story of how wonderful the Lees are to cyclists.

My favorite story shared was that of a young family who came through with their daughter whose birthday was three days later.  "And you know, Radford is about a three day ride from here," making sure I understood.  Well, somehow the Lee's had caught wind of the birthday, probably from June herself, and to the child's amazement when they finally arrived in Radford, the whole place was decked out in Birthday gear - ribbons, Happy Birthday signs, cake and all!  "Good people, the Lees," she insisted.
Needless to say, a couple days later I pedaled just outside Radford and made the phone call to the Lee residence to check for vacancy.  As soon as "Trans Am" came out of my mouth (the name of the route), Sarah, Mrs. Lee, was giving me directions and insight on where to stop for dinner before arriving.  She directed me to a pizza place in Christiansburg which had an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet (the sort of thing that has been a huge ally in this endeavor), and after filling up for under $6, I was off to Radford.
Upon my arrival, I met the whole family - Thad, Sarah, their son Sam, and Katie the dog - and was given the grand tour of what would be my stomping ground for the next 10 hours.  "Once you're here, you're family - no one waits on you, you help yourself."  My kind of place.
After settling in a bit, I joined Thad, Sarah and David, the family's Presbyterian pastor, who were enjoying a porch sit, soaking up what was left of the balmy night.  I listened intently as the three exchanged stories, adding a piece or two as the conversation allowed.  Evidently Thad had made the ride back in 1998, starting in the West riding East, and David's brother in law was among the first to ride in 1976 when the route was first put together.  Soon enough, only Thad and I were left on the porch as he began to tell me about Radford and the significance of the New River, which runs right through/next to the city.
It's said that the New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world - second only to the Nile.  Geologists posit that billions of years ago the Appalachians were the present day Himalayas, and that over time have eroded to their present height, size, or girth (however one measures a mountain).  Now the New River itself runs north, into West Virginia, eventually connecting with the Ohio, and for those who don't know rivers, eventually pours into the Mississippi which heads out into the Gulf de Mexico.  So in order for a river to run north like it does, through the Appalachians, it's said the river must have been around BEFORE the mountains themselves - hence, 2nd oldest river in the world.  I know, crazy.  But, it's science.
The next morning I asked Thad and Sarah, who were comfortably lounging in their PJs, for directions to the nearest "breakfast joint."  Without missing a beat, the two pointed to the fridge with heads still buried in their newspapers.  Again, my kind of place.  After some eggs, bacon, and a pair of bagels, I was back on the road, not to forget the generosity of the Lee family.
The first glimpse of the Appalachians in Northern Virginia along with a cute cat that napped with me... no fleas, thankfully.

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