So as not to bury the lede, I’ll just get this out of the way. I made it to DC! Pacific to Atlantic. Not bad for an old guy. So I checked in to my hotel, got the bike sorted, and ran about a mile to take care of some long overdue business.
And then I went to eat and have a few beers. It had been a long day. I had a hard time sleeping the night before due to the worrisome forecasts of Fred’s last gasps. My weather window went from non-existent, to possible, to looking pretty good. I got up at 4am and things looked even better, but I was too tired and it was too dark to get going. Back up at 5:30 and things looked great for a 6am start. I grabbed a coffee and loaded the bike, setting off at about 6:10. My plan was to be out of Virginia by noon to miss most of the storefront.
I set off out of Asheville well buttoned up in my gear, braced for the storm. I opted not to layer, which I regretted a bit as the road climbed and then slid into a 40-mile long river valley leading to Kentucky. It got a bit nippy, but never under the mid-to-high 60’s, so my shorts and t-shirt ultimately did the job…barely. The road out of Asheville was damp, but the rain was never more that a drizzle. We climbed a bit then dropped into Tennessee’s Johnson City. It was…a city. But Tennessee was lush and green, although I find the kudzu really ominous. It just seems like it’s devouring the forests where it grows. Unsettling.
Tennessee checked off the list, the road carried me on to Virginia’s very western end. It’s basically a Virginia sandwich between TN and KY. Which enabled me to duck up the aforementioned river valley, which carried me through Virginia coal country up to the Kentucky border. It was…amazing. Great road, interesting communities, amazing geography. It’s almost a fjord with a little river at the bottom and communities and services stretched out on both sides of the river, clinging to the steep rock walls. I could’ve ridden that road forever. It took me through the small town of Grundy, which looked much less like a pill-ridden hellscape than I would’ve expected. I finally made it up to the Kentucky state line and trod a few steps on their soil, before return to the main road. I did notice that the Virginia side seemed to be more prosperous for whatever reason. Even the rundown Virginia homes were houses. Everything on the Kentucky side that I saw was a trailer.
After that it was just hammer down to make it to DC. Interstates through Virginia, then West Virginia, then Virginia again until they spit me out in DC proper. There was plenty of rain throughout the trip, but no real deluges, and usually just enough to make me keep my visor down. So, annoying more than anything else. I stayed dry and happy, though a bit tired from the sleepless night. Once here I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day and I went to work fixing that. Right after a quick insult to our former president and a selfie on the Mall.
I took a moment to stretch my legs and stroll the town just a bit before bed. A few dramatic scenes caught my eye:
Starting Mileage: 57480
Ending Mileage: 58114
Daily Mileage: 634