Mountain City, TN > Troutville, VA
It was an absolutely perfect day to be riding a bike. It was mostly shady riding through the ups and downs of the Cherokee National Forest. It was beautiful too. Waterfalls from time to time, creeks, tons of trees of course. It was not unlike the scenes from Last of the Mohicans... which was filmed in neighboring, NC. Amusing to me, there were a bunch of bicycle tour vans and trailers that kept passing me up and down, taking guests up to the top of the first big climb with bikes so they could simply ride down the mountain on the bike trail that snaked along the road in the trees. Most of the people I saw participating didn't look to be extremely fit and I just smiled to myself due to the context of myself and my trip.
I spent most of the day simply riding along, contented to be in a relatively humidity-free place again that wasn't blisteringly hot either. The higher concentration of motorcycles, specifically Harleys didn't even bother me. The weather trumped all negativity. At some point though I really, urgently need to go #2. So I did what anyone in my situation would do... i made sure no one was coming, tucked my bike into the woods and did the deed. Wet wipes were always on hand, and for situations such as this, they were worth more than gold. I think the rich food and the break from cycling over the weekend contributed to the mild G.I. distress of that moment. I felt immediately better afterwords.
That evening, after only 63 miles, I got to the town of Wytheville where I stopped and gorged myself on Mexican (naturally). There was a KOA listed on the map, but it turned out to be several miles out of town, fortunately in the direction I was ultimately heading. I took my left overs with me and set off to find me a camping spot. It was a little weird riding through a neighborhood to reach the campground, but once I was there, it was like nothing could bother me. I did the whole night registration thing, took a shower, brushed my teeth, rinsed my clothes, set up camp and passed out. The best thing about it was that my stuff was dry in the morning(!) because there wasn't 100% humidity in the air and somehow not raining, like southern MO.
Just as I reached the outskirts of Radford, it started sprinkling rain. I was hungry anyway and ditched into a McDonald's to eat lunch, charge my phone and wait for the storm to blow over. The news about the shooting at the Washington Naval Yard was just breaking on TV when I walked in and I found it to be especially poignant as that was were I was heading in a matter of days. The rain had stopped pretty much the same time I was done eating and I set off to cross the river into town. The map was confusing crossing the river and I ended up going the wrong way for a little bit, down a hill into a river-front park. I found my way back through town passing a few people again and feeling sheepish about it.
Through Christiansburg and I found myself on roads almost exactly like riding around Middle TN. There were even big bridges that looked like the Natchez Trace bridge that crosses over Hwy 96 outside of Franklin. The route skirted the edge of a big ridge and it was a while before I rounded the end of it to get to the Daleville/Troutville combo town. I must have been feeling bad and/or needing a good wifi connection to figure out how I was actually going to get to Alexandria, VA where my cousin, Laura, was kind enough to offer me a place to crash at the end of my trip. I booked a room at the Howard Johnson (thinking of my dad who used to stay in HJ's growing up on family vacations) along Hwy 220 and BONUS! As a guest for the night, I got a coupon for the Mexican restaurant across the street. That was a no-brainer dinner decision. =P I had oodles of left-overs for snacking on later.