Today’s ride is perfect. I hesitate, at first, but finally do go for the cinder-and-crushed-gravel-covered Virginia Creeper Trail alternative up my penultimate climb of the TransAm. And it truly is swell. I ride through the forest, along and across the streaks, sheltered from the heat by the beautiful foliage of the Chestnut Mountain. But don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself:
Riding along the Creeper Trail reminds me of my hike across the Pyrenees. Of how I loved being this deep in the nature and not seeing one bit of asphalt. For there are no roads, no shops, no pylons in the forest. It’s just you and Mother Nature. The morning ride in the woods makes me remember all that. Going back to my Parisian life seems, all of a sudden, even less appealing. How am I ever going to go back?
Once out of the park, it’s the rolling beauty of the mountain I am leaving behind that keeps my bike powered. I sit back, relax and cruise across the magnificent scenery of the Indian summer. Since it’s all downhill, I get to Wytheville quite early and have plenty of time to look for shelter. To my disappointment, the local fire department does not put cyclists up for the night. City Park it is then! Except that it’s not: there’s a wedding going on and the area is closed to the public until the event is over (5 am the following day?!).
I decide to hit the main street to look for some wifi and find an alternative for the night later. A group of local ‘kids on the block’ chat me up, asking about my itinerary. We start a conversation and tons of laughter ensue immediately. We are hooked! There are so many questions, so many simultaneous threads and jokes that it looks like we’re going to be at it until tomorrow morning. Luckily, for my own sake, we do finish at a reasonable hour (when the clock strikes OLD AGE) and Jen and Nate, a local creative couple, invite me to spend the night over at their place.