As I looked at the map last night I had two options for today’s ride.  Option 1. Ride 56 miles, just past Lexington, VA, to a campground for the night.  Option 2. Ride 85 miles to a USFS campround, that is 4 miles off route.  And Option 2 includes a 1,700 ft, 4 mile climb.  Hold on, I am thinking….  I really like the looks of Option 1.  So, I slacked a bit today.  I had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and I took my time today.  It was nice to have a short ride.  The morning was great, but the afternoon got a little hot.  I knew I should have kept my early morning start.

It was a pretty uneventful day, so I am going to talk about tomorrow.  The last hurdle.  Just because I did not choose Option 2 does not mean I do not have to do the 1,700 ft, 4 mile climb.  Bright and early tomorrow, I am going to climb up SR 56 to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  After the Parkway there is another smaller climb, something like 900 ft, and that is it!  It will basically be downhill to Yorktown!

As of, end of day, Monday July 19th, I have 265 miles to Yorktown!  Less than 300 miles, I can’t believe it! Everyday, for 51 days, just chipping away.

Something went wrong with my bike computer so the mileage I have been posting is 30 miles more than my actual mileage.  I probably should have been posting the map’s mileage and not the bike computer’s mileage, but oh well.  I still will have ridden the TAT in either case.

I brought a book with me on the trip, The Martian.  The movie came out a little while ago, it starred Matt Damon.  It was a suggestion by a friend at work, Jeremy, thanks JK. If I happened to have any time at night I would crack it open.  One chapter in, and my eyes were so heavy the book would literally fall on my face.  Anyway, it was about an astronaut who got stranded on Mars and about how he dealt with every issue that came up, to stay alive.  Although my trip was nothing like that, there were some parallels that I could relate to.  I really enjoyed reading it. Well, tonight I finally finished it!  I did not think that was going to happen.

Bear with me here. I am going to quote the last few paragraphs of the book.  I think it describes the experience I have had on this awesome trip. The parallel starts at, “But really,….”

“The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist.  Why bother?”

“Well, Okay, I know the answer to that.  Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we’ve dreamed of for centuries.  But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out.  It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.”

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search.  If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood.  If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies.  This is so fundamentally human that’s it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.” 

“Pretty cool, eh?”

I thought those last few paragraphs of the book could not have described my experience any better.  What I say next is not a political stance, for or against any particular candidate in this year’s election for President.  I have seen signs that say, “Make America Great Again”.  I say, America “IS” great.  And I have seen it with my own two pedals.

4 more days!

I am staying at a campground 10 miles southwest of Vesuvius, VA.

Day 51 – 56 miles

Total 3,993.2 miles

I didn’t stop for pictures or a video today.  I was in tree canopies most of the day.  Good for keeping cool, bad for scenic views.