Where in North America is Uncle Rod? Day 23

Bloged in worship by rod Monday July 6, 2009

July 7, 2009
Marion, VA
63,515
212 miles (5,125)

I was thinking today as I rode a 5 hour, 212 miles, that these miles are not like the miles out west that I rode last year. In fact, all the miles I rode this year are quite different than those I rode last year. Here, on the east coast, there are no wide open spaces. If it is not towns and people, like Connecticut last week, it is mountains and switchbacks. Curves that are 20 mph, even on a motorcycle. Last year’s 400-mile day of straight desert riding, is this years 200-mile day of straight up and low-gear downhills. Of Grouse, and Deer, and Wild Turkeys.
I rode from my parents’ house, straight into the country. For 200 miles, I rode narrow 2-lane country roads. Sometimes one lane got lost, and I squeezed through, narrower still.
Across the mountains of Southern West Virginia, I always feel like someone, years ago, drilled holes, from the top, down into the mountains, and planted little towns. There are no places for towns at all, and yet, one descends a steep mountainside, and there is a town. There are always sides of hills missing to make room for Mainstreet. Houses are stuck into hillsides like arrows shot from across the river. One side of each house is one storey tall, the other side is often 3 storeys high, just to find the foundation. Thus, it seems like a huge drill bit, from above just dropped down and drilled out a hole for these towns. Were it not for the fact that this is a coal-rich land, no one could possibly have ever lived here. There had to be a financial gain for carving out communities in places where only birds could reach easily.
Today, I saw no rain. First ride, since I rode from Cape Breton, to the Bay of Fundy, that I didn’t get rain. Today, the temperature was perfect too. I rode into town after I set up camp, and it was quite cool, but all day, the ride was quite comfortable.
For some reason, I expected the up and down, and switchbacks to stop after I crossed in to Virginia. Who knew they would intensifiy?
I’ve never been to Boone, NC, so I was headed in that direction. Nearby, is the tallest point in Virginia, so I thought I might camp there. I made it as far as Marion, VA, where I have actually been, and tomorrow, I will ride into Boone, begin to make my way home.
I had no idea, how many slices of mountains, and long valleys lie in this narrow portion of Southwest Virginia between West Virginia and North Carolina, but I climbed up and back down, several times, with rolling valleys between, before I happened upon this State Park. Only about 10 miles to the south is I-81, but you’d never know there was civilization nearby.
As I mentioned, Southern West Virginia, is tight. Extremely steep mountains, and very very deep valleys. One rides along rivers here, upon roads that are actually hewn from the sides of the mountains. Even the river bottoms aren’t wide enough to accommodate the river and a road, so extra width is extracted by excavation. At 4pm on a July afternoon, the sun doesn’t reach over the mountains, and so it is evening down between the hills. One meanders through mountain shadows for hours before the sun actually sets somewhere behind those hills.
The last couple of hours of incredible motorcycle roads were so freshly paved that they had not yet been painted. Smooth, without gravel, NO traffic, intensely curvy, and up and down. Who could ask for anything more?
I had so wished to get at least a day or two of what I’d planned to get for 21days. Even if it rains all the way home tomorrow, I’ll have today to count for exactly what I needed.
So here, I am, knowing I’ll see Al and kids tomorrow, sitting by a fire, merely 250 miles from home, depending on the route, and enjoying a fire and night sounds of Whip-poor-wills, and frogs. It is a fitting last night of the Windhorse trip.
The Windhorse, by the way, ran beautifully today after having been cleaned a bit, and is resting beside me enjoying the cool mountain, night air.

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