I have not been able to post over the past two nights, the first I was too exhausted, and the second we were in a beautiful hidden valley with no phone service. I will try to summarize the three days now.
We enter the beautiful foothills of the Appalachians and begin to climb into the Blue Ridge Mountains.
On day one we head towards Charlottesville the famous city of Jefferson.
For 60 miles and gradual climbs I help a rider in the back of the pack one with a lifelong ambition to make this trip. Living in the flatlands close to the Chesapeake Bay with minimal hill training it is very difficult for her to climb the 3500 feet.
Nonetheless after eight hours of pedaling she is able to complete the task.
We are hosted at a local Unitarian church and treated to breakfast by alumni the next day and then head higher and higher into the Blue Ridge Mountains to the top of the Parkway. At 20 miles sweeping I come across a rider who cannot make it to the top. We stop, I make sure she is safe, and I continue on. The rescue van will come back later to pick her up. Higher and higher I go up to the mountain tops and after 6 hours and 6500 feet I reach the peak of the Vesuvius.
its almost a straight shot down to the valley below and I know that without brakes I could easily reach 60 or 70 mph. Suddenly Angel and Flossia appear to my great relief. Purched on my shoulder and on top of my head one looks forward one looks back. Rocketing down the mountain side I watch closely for gravel and debris and use my brakes sparingly so they do not overheat. I do not look at the speedometer on the way down hill trip but rather concentrate on the 50 feet in front of me with each hairpin turn. Within 12-15 minutes I have sped down what took me six hours to climb on the other side. At the bottom of the hill is our campsite. We are hosted by a local grocery store who allows us to camp outback next to a flowing creek. Under the stars I sleep soundly my tummy full of food cooked by locals to celebrate our safe arrival.
Today we have a 60 mile ride to Roanoke one of the easiest of the trip. It is 90% downhill along streams , creeks and rivers .I am so tempted at times to get off and wade into the waist deep cool waters. Instead I ride on. As I listen to the gurgling water I think to the flow of life.
How gently the water flows around rocks ,boulders, and downed trees little impediment to motion towards the sea.
Today the person I help does not get lost for the first time, climbs all the hills and reaches the end in the middle of the pack. yes it took me 3 hours more than usual… but so what?
I think of some riders who have doubts, uncertainties, and fears, how they look ahead to see boulders rocks and downed trees. It is not easy when one has not done this before to let the water flow ,to glide past to the sea.
Yes it is very exhausting and more work than usual to help others in need but who am I to protest if I can help them reach a lifelong dream.
Angel and Flossie wink at me… “Just go with the flow”.
There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.” — Kurt Hahn, Founder if Outward Bound
PS . i am taking care of myself… here i am rolling out cramps…